Strengthening Cooperation to Weather the Trying Times
Remarks by State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi at the G20 Extraordinary Foreign Ministers’ Meeting
4 September 2020
Your Highness Prince Faisal bin Farhan Al Saud,
As we meet, the global pandemic is compounding the once-in-a-century changes unfolding in our world. We are witnessing rising unilateralism, protectionism, and headwinds against globalization, leading to growing uncertainty and volatility in the international landscape.
Multilateralism is the only way forward to meet these challenges. No matter it is preserving peace and security, promoting sustainable development or combating COVID-19 and climate change, we all have to adhere to multilateralism. This requires all of us to uphold the international order underpinned by international law and to reinforce the UN-centered international system. As the world is about to mark the 75th anniversary of the UN, China calls for renewed commitment to multilateralism and to the UN. We must come together to advance global governance in the post-COVID-19 era and build a community with a shared future for mankind.
As we speak, COVID-19 is still raging in many parts of the world and some countries are seeing a rebound of the virus and even a looming second wave. We must all stay vigilant. At the same time, we face the pressing task of restoring global growth, for which the flow of goods and people must be resumed as soon as possible. Our meeting’s focus on facilitating international movements and border management is therefore highly relevant and timely. To this end, China would like to share the following proposals.
First, we need to facilitate travel. On the basis of guaranteeing health and safety, we need to gradually expand orderly people-to-people exchanges. To this end, we will need policy coordination and new cooperation mechanisms. China has opened up fast lanes for cross-border movement of essential commercial and skilled personnel with the ROK, Germany, Singapore, Indonesia and several other countries, which have functioned well. China proposes that the existing bilateral travel bubbles be upgraded to a multilateral network. It will allow commercial and chartered flights to be scheduled more efficiently and rationally. It will also increase the flow of people and goods between the countries involved.
Second, we need to collaborate in controlling risks. China proposes enhanced information sharing between countries on epidemic response, and setting up an international mechanism on mutual recognition of COVID-related health certification. Measures like pre-departure nucleic acid testing and mutual recognition of testing results and health codes can lower the risks of cross-border transmission. It is essential that governments remind their citizens to follow the local health protocols after arrival, while the host countries should offer protection to the health and safety of foreign nationals.
Third, we need to smooth out the flow of goods. More green lanes for transporting goods may be set up. To keep industrial and supply chains undisrupted, China has made customs clearance more efficient by improving border port infrastructure and digitized clearance procedures. It is also important for countries to lower tariff and non-tariff barriers, lift unnecessary export restrictions, and explore the feasibility of zero-tariff treatment for crucial medical supplies.
To advance cooperation in the above-mentioned areas, China would like to launch, together with other members, an initiative on facilitating cross-border flow of people and goods. Specific proposals include running a workshop on border management and international travel in the near future; designating focal points for closer communication and coordination; and setting up an ad hoc platform to synergize the existing bilateral and regional arrangements for international movements. China looks forward to active participation by other G20 members in these proposals.
The G20 countries are major economies in the world. Collectively, we account for 85 percent of global GDP and over 80 percent of international trade. We are also among each other’s biggest trading partners. If the G20 leads the efforts with closer cooperation, this will not just help restore our own growth but is also conducive to revitalizing the global economy.
Faced with a pandemic unseen in a century, we G20 countries must strengthen solidarity and cooperation, particularly on the following fronts:
A pressing priority is to speed up vaccine research, production and distribution to build a firewall against the virus. The G20 countries must take the lead in making the vaccines accessible and affordable, especially for the least developed countries and high-risk groups. The coordinating role of the World Health Organization should be exerted in this regard to form greater synergy between the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunization (Gavi), the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI) and other mechanisms. China is working with 11 countries on phase-three clinical trials of COVID-19 vaccines. When available, China will share the vaccines with other countries through various channels. As pledged by President Xi Jinping, China will make its COVID-19 vaccine a global public good, and work with other countries to build a community of health for all.
Digital economy has displayed unique strengths during the COVID-19 crisis. Looking ahead to the post-COVID era, we need to encourage the growth of new industries and new business forms and models, and unlock the potential of digital economy. Data security is an issue of shared interest for countries around the world. China is actively considering putting forward an initiative on data security. We call on all parties to communicate and coordinate in a constructive way as we work to ensure the secure and orderly cross-border flow of data. We need to work together to build an open, fair and non-discriminatory business environment, and maintain the supply chain security of global ICT products and services, for everyone to benefit from digital economy.
We need to give particular attention to the plight of developing countries and step up support for those hardest hit by the coronavirus and under heavy financial stress, including by further extending the period of debt suspension.
In conclusion, let us strengthen solidarity and partnership, firmly uphold multilateralism, and support Saudi Arabia in exercising the G20 presidency. Together, we will work to ensure a fruitful Riyadh Summit.