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Wang Yi Hosts Video Conference of Foreign Ministers of China, Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka on COVID-19

On April 27, 2021, foreign ministers of China, Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka jointly held a video conference on COVID-19. State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi hosted the conference, which was attended by Afghan acting Foreign Minister Mohammed Haneef Atmar, Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi, Nepali Foreign Minister Pradeep Kumar Gyawali, Sri Lankan Foreign Minister Dinesh Gunawardena, and Bangladesh's Foreign Minister A.K. Abdul Momen.

Wang Yi said, the six countries are good neighbors living in harmony, good partners along the course of development, and good brothers sharing weal and woe. Faced with the sudden outbreak of the COVID-19, we worked together to fight the pandemic, protect the life and health of people, maintain public health and safety, boost economic growth, and jointly advance Belt and Road cooperation.

Wang Yi expressed, China also invited India to attend the meeting. China expresses deep sympathy for the raging pandemic in India and extends sincere condolences to the Indian people. China is ready to provide support and assistance to the Indian people at any time according to the needs of India. He hopes the meeting will help India fight against the pandemic. China will uphold the concept of a community with a shared future for mankind, stand firmly with the people of South Asian countries, and join hands and unite as one until all countries in the region eventually prevail over the pandemic.

Wang Yi expressed, now a new wave of the pandemic is wreaking havoc, and countries in South Asia are confronted with new shocks and challenges. Thus, China is willing to put forth the following proposals for strengthening anti-pandemic cooperation of the six countries:

First, we should consolidate consensus on cooperation against the COVID-19. We should carry forward of the Oriental tradition of "good neighborliness" and demonstrate a firm resolve to jointly fight against the virus. We should focus on the urgent tasks of pandemic containment and economic recovery, explore diverse approaches to address the pandemic, and convey the clear signal of sharing weal and woe and sticking together in times of difficulty, instilling confidence of prevailing over the pandemic at an early date. We should continue to oppose attempts of labeling the virus and politicizing the pandemic to prevent interference in international anti-pandemic cooperation. We should continue to support the WHO in playing a due role in global cooperation against COVID-19 and all countries should work together to build a global community of health for all.

Second, we should deepen practical cooperation in fighting against the COVID-19. China is willing to promote vaccine cooperation with other countries through flexible methods such as free aid, commercial procurement, and filling and production of vaccines, under the framework of the six-country cooperation mechanism, so that people in South Asia are accessible to more diversified and stable vaccine supplies. Currently, we should explore multiple forms of cooperation based on the spreading directions of virus variants to contain the spreading of the variants. China is also willing to establish a China-South Asia emergency supplies reserve through friendly consultations with all parties based on the proposals from all countries.

Third, we should promote post-pandemic economic recovery. China wishes to implement the "fast tracks" to facilitate essential travels and accelerate the unimpeded transport of goods through "green channels". We should expand cooperation in new business forms such as digital economy, promote high-quality Belt and Road cooperation, and help countries in the region march on the "fast lane" of economic recovery. China proposes to establish a China-South Asia poverty reduction and development cooperation center to exchange experience and good practices in poverty reduction with other countries, and hold a China-South Asia forum on rural e-commerce poverty reduction cooperation as a new platform for poverty reduction in the third quarter of this year.

Fourth, we should maintain an international and regional environment that is conducive to the development of all countries. China will stand firmly by justice and go with the historical trend of development. It will work with countries in the region to defend the international system with the UN at its core and the international order underpinned by international law, and resist illegal acts of interfering in other countries' internal affairs and coercing other countries to choose sides, jointly upholding harmony and tranquility in the region and beyond.

The foreign ministers of other five countries actively supported the important proposals put forth by Wang Yi. They appreciate China's material and technical assistance to other countries, reiterate the WHO should continue to play an active role in global anti-pandemic cooperation, and oppose politicizing the pandemic. The five sides hold the view that vaccines should be distributed in a fair and just principle instead of being monopolized by a handful of countries to avoid "vaccine divide", and speak highly of China's efforts to achieve vaccine accessibility and affordability in developing countries. The five parties supported the important proposals of setting up a China-South Asia emergency supplies reserve, and a poverty reduction and development cooperation center, and holding a forum on rural e-commerce poverty reduction cooperation. The five countries are willing to work with China to deepen Belt and Road cooperation, maintain the stability and security of the industrial and supply chains, strengthen cooperation in non-traditional security areas such as poverty reduction and food, and discuss measures to facilitate personnel exchange and commodity circulation based on the regular pandemic prevention and control. All parties agreed to defend the UN-centered international system and the international order underpinned by international law, oppose unilateral bullying, interference in others' internal affairs, and double standard, and maintain peace, stability, openness, inclusiveness and cooperation of the region.

The six foreign ministers issued a joint statement on cooperation against the pandemic after the meeting.

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