Chinese Ambassador to Latvia: The international community has an urgent task to increase the fair distribution of vaccines

Chinese Ambassador Liang Jianquan answers Neatkarīgā's questions.
03.09.2021. JPJuris Paiders
©Ķīnas vēstniecība Latvijā

This year marks 30 years since Latvia was admitted to the UN. The People's Republic of China was one of the first countries to recognize the restoration of Latvia's independence on September 7, 1991. On September 17, 1991, Latvia, together with Estonia and Lithuania, was admitted to the UN, thanks to the vote of the People's Republic of China in the UN Security Council. This year marks the 30th anniversary (September 12, 1991) of the establishment of diplomatic relations between Latvia and the People's Republic of China. How does your government view this 30-year period of cooperation?

In the 30 years since the establishment of diplomatic relations between China and Latvia, bilateral relations have been continuously developed, as well as exchanges and cooperation in various fields have deepened.

Over the last 30 years, there have been many exchange visits between the leaders of the two countries. Latvia has once been visited by the President of China, the Prime Minister and the Chairman of the National People's Congress. In turn, four Presidents of Latvia, four Prime Ministers and five Speakers of the Saeima have visited China. These visits play a very important role in promoting the development of bilateral relations.

Pragmatic cooperation between the two countries has also expanded over the last 30 years. Especially in the last 10 years, the economic and trade relations between the two countries have developed rapidly in the framework of the construction of the Belt and Road Initiative and the cooperation between China and the countries of Central and Eastern Europe. Bilateral trade has grown from 26 million euros in 2000 to 798 million euros in 2020. At present, Rilak mineral paints, Groglass anti-glare glass, Food Union dairy products, Stenders bath products and other Latvian products popular with Chinese buyers have entered the Chinese market. Latvian companies are actively participating in the third China International Import Expo, China and Central and Eastern European Countries Expo and others, expanding export channels for high-quality products to China. China is ready to further expand the import of high-quality Latvian products that have a high demand in the market, as well as ready to encourage even more Chinese companies to invest in Latvia. We also hope that Latvia will provide a fair and equitable business environment for Chinese companies. China supports Latvia's role as a regional logistics center, actively explores the possibility of opening a direct flight between China and Latvia and regular Sino-European freight trains. In addition, the tourism industry of the two countries has established close ties to strengthen cooperation. We believe that after the pandemic, the level of cooperation between the two countries in the tourism sector will be further increased.

Over the past 30 years, the exchange of people and cultures between the two countries has steadily enriched. Various Chinese and Latvian cultural, sports and art groups have visited each other's countries, where they gained wide recognition. Various events have been successfully held in Latvia, including the Happy Spring Festival and the Chinese Film Festival. Every year, exchange students from China and Latvia come to each other's country to learn the language, sowing the seeds for friendship between China and Latvia. The Chinese national bobsleigh team has come to Latvia for training many times, and many Latvian experts have joined the Beijing Winter Olympics preparation team, contributing to the Beijing Winter Olympics. Here, I also wish the Latvian Winter Olympics team good results in next year's Beijing Winter Olympics. It is worth mentioning that in the conditions of the pandemic, China and Latvia have maintained contacts and supported each other, writing a new chapter in the book of cooperation between the two nations.

An old Chinese saying goes, "By learning from history, we can learn the ups and downs." There is a saying in Latvia: "He who studies the past blesses the future." History is a mirror, and the 30-year development process of Sino-Latvian relations has given us deep enlightenment and rich experience. Although China and Latvia have different social systems and cultural traditions, the two countries have common interests in many areas. The development of friendly and cooperative relations is beneficial to both nations. As long as the two sides adhere to proper mutual understanding, adhere to the principle of mutual respect, strive to seek common ground while preserving differences, and seriously respect each other's fundamental interests and core concerns, bilateral relations will be able to move forward sustainably and safely.

How is the global Covid-19 pandemic currently affecting the People's Republic of China and its economic development plans? How is the People's Republic of China doing in tracing the source of the virus outbreak and limiting the spread of the latest virus strains, especially the Delta variant?

This time, the Covid-19 pandemic has had a major impact on the economies of all countries, including China. In 2020, the global economy decreased by 3.3% compared to the previous year, and China's GDP growth also decreased to 2.3% for the first time. China contributes to the prevention and control of the pandemic, as well as to economic and social development in general, has taken the lead in containing the pandemic, resuming work and production, and achieving positive economic growth. Among the largest economies with a global GDP of over 1 trillion US dollars, China is the only one to have achieved positive economic growth. In the first half of this year, China's economy continued to recover, strengthen and improve. In the first half of the year, China's GDP grew by 12.7% compared to this time period the previous year. The growth of personal income did not lag behind economic growth. In the first half of the year, real per capita income increased by an average of 5.2% over two years. This year, we achieved the goal of a moderately prosperous society in all respects and historically solved the problem of absolute poverty. However, it should also be noted that the global pandemic is still ongoing, with factors of external instability and uncertainty increasing. The foundations for sound economic recovery and development still need to be strengthened.

Recently, with the rapid spread of Delta and other strains of Covid-19 virus, the number of infected people has returned to high levels in many countries. The Chinese government has taken general measures for coordinated pandemic prevention and control and vaccination. Currently, more than 2 billion doses of the vaccine have been used across China, and nearly 900 million people have completed a two-dose vaccination course. Some local cases of the disease were discovered in several Chinese provinces and cities some time ago. The concerned municipalities immediately started testing the entire population. Strict pandemic prevention and control measures were put in place in several hundred regions, including the closure of some residential areas. After more than a month of effort, this pandemic wave is effectively under control. However, we must not relax or be careless. Preventing a new outbreak must remain a top priority.

Currently, the global pandemic continues to spread again. The international community has an urgent task to increase the fair distribution of vaccines, to unite and cooperate in the fight against the pandemic. At the same time, it is very important to understand the origin of the virus so that we can better combat the pandemic and so that humanity can prevent similar virus outbreaks in the future. However, tracing the origin of the virus is a complex scientific issue and science must be respected. Research should be carried out in collaboration with scientists around the world. China attaches great importance to and actively participates in global cooperation on traceability. Based on the principles of science, openness and transparency, China has twice invited WHO international experts to China for joint research on the origin of the virus. Earlier this year, a joint group of international and Chinese experts conducted a 28-day study in China and issued a report on the traceability by the Joint WHO-China Study Team, which drew authoritative, professional and scientific conclusions, providing a good basis for further global cooperation on virus traceability. More than 80 countries have written to the Director-General of the WHO stressing the need to protect the results of this joint study and opposing the politicization of traceability of the virus. To date, China has donated and continues to donate vaccines to more than 100 countries and exports vaccines to more than 60 countries. The total number has exceeded 770 million doses, the largest number in the world. Chinese President Xi Jinping recently announced that China will seek to provide 2 billion doses of vaccine to the world this year and donate 100 million US dollars to the COVAX mechanism. China is ready to work with all parties to actively pursue global cooperation in the fight against the pandemic and to contribute to the ultimate victory of humanity over the pandemic.

Will the flare-up of the global pandemic in the summer of 2021 affect the People's Republic of China's development plans for the next five years and growth opportunities?

Although the Covid-19 pandemic has had a severe impact since last year, the Chinese economy continues to show strong resilience and potential. We believe that the fundamentals of the Chinese economy and the long-term positive trend will not change as a result of this pandemic, and we are able to minimize the impact of the pandemic on the economy.

2021 is the first year of China's 14th Five-Year Plan. Over the next five years or even longer, guided by the new concept of innovation, coordination, green, open and shared development, China will develop a new development model based on the domestic cycle and mutually reinforcing domestic and international cycles to promote high quality and sustainable economic and social development. At the same time, the Chinese government will pay more attention to addressing the relationship between efficiency and fairness and will give greater priority to the gradual attainment of the well-being of all citizens. During the 14th Five-Year Plan, China will promote reform and openness at a higher starting point, pursue mutually beneficial results, build a new system of open economy at an even higher level, and continue to promote a market-oriented, just and international business environment. China has a population of 1.4 billion and a middle-income population of more than 400 million, making it the most promising market in the world. Total imports of goods are expected to exceed 22 trillion US dollars over the next 10 years. China's development will provide more opportunities for cooperation for all countries.

How does the leadership of the People's Republic of China view the developments that took place in Afghanistan in August?

Recent developments in Afghanistan show that the Afghan people do not support an externally imposed model of governance and it lacks social grounds. Relying on military intervention to address regional hotspots is even more futile.

There have been fundamental changes in the internal situation in Afghanistan. There is a need for all parties to cooperate and actively lead the Taliban. The international community should contribute to the positive development of the situation in Afghanistan and lead the Taliban's reunification with all Afghan parties and peoples, so that the Taliban can establish a broad and inclusive people-supported political structure in Afghanistan through dialogue and negotiation as soon as possible, implement a moderate and stable domestic and foreign policy, curb all forms of terrorism and crime, ensure a smooth transition in Afghanistan so that the war-torn Afghan people can get rid of the war as soon as possible and build lasting peace.

Unlike Latvia and other EU member states, the People's Republic of China has a land border with Afghanistan. Has the flow of political refugees from Afghanistan reached the People's Republic of China, and what is the attitude of the People's Republic of China towards the political refugees of the previous government?

At present, there are still many destabilizing factors in Afghanistan that make a peaceful reconstruction process difficult. The international community should provide Afghanistan with the economic, basic needs, humanitarian and other emergency assistance it needs, as well as take concrete steps to help Afghanistan make a smooth transition. This is beneficial to the Afghan people, contributes to the stabilization of the situation in the region and is in the interests of European countries, including Latvia.

As a friendly neighbor and a true friend of Afghanistan, China has always pursued a friendly policy towards all the people of Afghanistan, respects Afghan sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity, and adheres to the principle of non-interference in Afghanistan's internal affairs. It will not change in the past, now or in the future. We respect the fact that the Afghan people determine their own future and destiny, and we are ready to continue to develop good, friendly and cooperative neighbor relations with Afghanistan, to play a constructive role in the peaceful reconstruction of Afghanistan and to provide our assistance for Afghanistan's economic and social development.

What is the position of the People's Republic of China on US Vice President Kamala Harris's accusations against China of 'intimidation' in the South China Sea?

At present, with the joint efforts of China and ASEAN, the situation in the South China Sea remains broadly stable. As a country outside the region, the US ignores the history and facts of the South China Sea to protect its hegemonic interests, ignores the desire and efforts of China and ASEAN to jointly maintain peace and stability in the South China Sea, makes waves on questions about the South China Sea, blatantly sows discord between the countries of the region, which is the greatest threat to the stability of the South China Sea and is the real source of coercion and intimidation.


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