China says it has so far provided nearly two billion doses of COVID-19 vaccines to more than 120 countries and international organisations.
That figure, according China’s Foreign Minister, Wang Yi, accounted for one third of all vaccines administered worldwide, excluding China.
Addressing a virtual meeting of the Advisory Council of the Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation 2021, Mr Yi said Chinese companies had worked with 19 developing country partners on joint vaccine production, and developed an initial annual capacity of more than one billion doses.
Earlier this year, China and 31 cooperation partners jointly launched the Initiative for Belt and Road Partnership on COVID-19 Vaccines Cooperation.
The Initiative champions closer cooperation on vaccine export, assistance, joint production, technology transfer and other areas, to keep the pandemic at bay.
Mr Yi said China would fulfil its commitments of providing another one billion doses of COVID vaccines to Africa and donating an additional 150 million doses to ASEAN countries.
“With concrete practices on the ground, China’s promise of making the vaccines a public good is becoming a reality," he stated.
“We will deepen cooperation with other developing countries on the joint production of vaccines for an early victory over COVID-19 and help bring life back to normal across countries at an early date.”
China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI, launched in 2013, is a coordinated plan to develop two new trade routes connecting China with the rest of the world.
The Initiative seeks to connect Asia with Africa and Europe via land and maritime networks with the aim of improving regional integration, increasing trade and stimulating economic growth.
The name was coined in 2013 by China’s President Xi Jinping, who drew inspiration from the concept of the Silk Road established during the Han Dynasty 2,000 years ago – an ancient network of trade routes that connected China to the Mediterranean via Eurasia for centuries.
Mr Yi said the BRI had become the world’s largest platform for international cooperation.
He said in the first 10 months of this year, China’s investment in its cooperation partners grew by 14.6 per cent, and their trade up by 23 per cent.
“China has established e-commerce cooperation mechanisms with 22 countries, and its trade in cross-border e-commerce in the first half of this year rose by more than 20 per cent year-on-year, broadening the prospects for cooperation on Silk Road e-commerce,” he said.
Mr Yi said experience over the past year showed that the BRI cooperation had not been undermined by the COVID-19 pandemic, in spite of the disease causing major changes to economies.
He, however, said there was the need to improve bilateral, trilateral and multilateral cooperation mechanisms to make the BRI global partnership network more solid, substantive and productive.
"Following the principles of openness, inclusiveness and transparency, China welcomes more countries and institutions to join tripartite or multiparty cooperation under the BRI," Mr Yi said.
He assured that China would continue to focus on economic growth, job creation, livelihood protection and poverty reduction, and deepen practical cooperation with partner countries in the economic, trade, health, poverty reduction, education and agricultural fields.
“We will develop more cooperation projects that improve people’s lives, to deliver more real gains to people across the partner countries,” Mr Yi said.