China and Pacific Island Countries Held the Second Vice Ministers' Special Meeting on COVID-19
2020-12-02 05:51

On November 30, 2020, China and Pacific Island Countries held the second vice ministers’ special meeting on COVID-19 via video link. Vice Foreign Minister Zheng Zeguang of China and Foreign Minister Jeremiah Manele of Solomon Islands co-chaired the meeting.

The Pacific Island Countries presented at the meeting include: Vanuatu, Fiji, Samoa, Papua New Guinea, the Federated States of Micronesia, Cook Islands, Tonga, Niue, Solomon Islands, and Kiribati. Mr. Kalfau Kaloris, Director General of Vanuatu Ministry of Foreign Affairs, International Cooperation and External Trade, as head of the Vanuatu Team, participated in the meeting at the Chinese Embassy in Port Vila. H.E. Zhou Haicheng, Chinese Ambassador to Vanuatu was also present.

China and Pacific Island Countries reviewed the significant achievements of their cooperation on combating COVID-19 and shared the view that the comprehensive strategic partnership between China and Pacific Island Countries has been deepened and developed through such cooperation. The Pacific Island Countries applauded China’s major strategic achievements in containing the COVID-19 outbreak and its progress in recovering socio-economic development, and expressed gratitude for China’s assistance in fighting the virus.

In the Joint Press Release issued after the Meeting, the two sides reaffirmed their commitment to multilateralism and the UN-centered international system, applauded and welcomed the adoption of the resolution on “comprehensive and coordinated response to the corona-virus disease (COVID-19) pandemic” by the 74th session of the UN General Assembly, and called on the international community to work in solidarity and collaboration to contain the spread of COVID-19. The two sides highly appreciated the leadership role of the World Health Organization in coordinating the global response to COVID-19, and reaffirmed their opposition to any attempt of stigmatization, politicizing or mislabeling the pandemic.

The two sides agreed to deepen cooperation and strengthen multilateral coordination on fighting COVID-19 and agreed to align their development strategies for the “post COVID-19 era”, expand practical cooperation within the framework of the “Belt and Road Initiative” and promote people-to-people and sub-national exchanges, with a view to boosting economic recovery and achieving common development. China appreciated the dual challenges of COVID-19 and climate change faced by Pacific Island Countries, and would continue to provide them with assistance to the best of its ability.

DG Kaloris spoke highly of the Vanuatu-China relationship and acknowledged China and PICs for their continuous support on Vanuatu’s COVID-19 prevention and control. He appreciated the collaboration with China in the fight against COVID-19 to promote public health security, enhance economic and social recovery and development, and promote the evergrowing cooperation under a Comprehensive Strategic Partnership. Mr Kaloris particularly thanked China for its commitment in Vanuatu’s COVID-19 response and recovery efforts. Noting that China was committed to making COVID-19 vaccine a public good and ensuring its accessibility and affordability in developing countries, including the Pacific Islands, he pointed out this was further testament of China’s role and standing as a responsible global leader. He shared Vanuatu’s proactive and preventive measures to curb the introduction and transmission of COVID-19, reaffirmed Vanuatu’s commitment to strengthening Multilateralism and UN-centered international system, and commended the exceptional work of WHO for decent coordination of global response to COVID-19. Mr. Kaloris expressed the immense gratitude on behalf of the Government and People of Vanuatu to the Government and People of China for their continued assistance with Vanuatu’s development needs and priorities. “We look forward to recommencing ongoing projects under the Belt and Road Initiative once borders reopen as these are important infrastructural developments for Vanuatu”, he added.