Interview: BRI cooperation to spearhead post-pandemic recovery, says Malaysian expert

0 Comment(s)Print E-mail Xinhua, 04 23, 2021

Members of the Chinese anti-COVID-19 medical consultant expert team attend a  video conference with Malaysia's traditional Chinese medicine (TCM)  associations, practitioners and companies on China's experiences in  applying TCM in the fight against COVID-19, in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia,  April 22, 2020. (Xinhua/Zhu Wei)

The expert said that the pandemic, for all its disruptions to global trade and economy, has ushered in a wave of cooperation notably among  countries along the BRI, which helped each other out in a time of  troubles.

KUALA LUMPUR, April 21 (Xinhua) -- The Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) is  expected to spearhead the post-pandemic global economic recovery, as  participating countries have reinforced their ties in joint response to  COVID-19, a Malaysian expert has said.

The response also paved the way for BRI countries to boost cooperation in  health and digital economy, while climate change could become a new  frontier for joint effort if China continues to lead in tackling the  challenge, said Ong Tee Keat, founding chairman of the Center for New  Inclusive Asia, a Malaysia-based think tank, in a recent interview with  Xinhua.

According to a report on Asian economic outlook and integration progress issued  Sunday by the Boao Forum for Asia (BFA) Annual Conference, the BRI  showed strong resilience and vitality last year, with relevant projects  continuing to advance, cooperation yielding fruitful results, and trade and investment growing despite headwinds.

China's medical supplies for 18 African countries arrive at the Kotoka  International Airport in Accra, capital of Ghana, April 6, 2020.  (Xinhua/Xu Zheng)

Ong said that the pandemic, for all its disruptions to global trade and  economy, has ushered in a wave of cooperation notably among countries  along the BRI, which helped each other out in a time of troubles.

"The pandemic has its silver lining in enhancing better camaraderie and connectivity of hearts and minds," he noted.

As one of the BRI countries, China reached out to other pandemic-battered  partners by donating personal protective equipment and cooperating in  vaccine development, Ong said, adding that China walked the talk of  making Chinese vaccine a public good for the international community.

China emerged as the only major economy that swiftly contained the outbreak  and recovered from a slump last year, playing a key part in global  economic recovery and benefiting other countries via multilateral  platform such as the BRI, said Ong.

Meanwhile, the country is pushing forward its 14th Five-Year Plan (2021-2025) and  new development paradigm of "dual circulation," which "is expected to  provide the BRI countries with vast market potential in the  post-COVID-19 recovery," he noted.

The first batch of COVID-19 vaccines made by the Chinese biopharmaceutical  company Sinovac Biotech is unloaded upon its arrival at the Kuala Lumpur International Airport in Sepang, Malaysia, Feb. 27, 2021. (Xinhua/Zhu  Wei)

The goodwill forged through cooperation during outbreaks have laid the  foundation for better public health response in the future, he said,  pointing out that such cooperation within and beyond the BRI or the  Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) serve as a useful  template.

In the face of the pandemic, the scope of BRI cooperation has also been  expanded in a timely way to build a "Health Silk Road" and a "digital  Silk Road," said Ong, noting that digital economy would continue to  thrive, considering restrictions to gatherings and travels could remain  for a while, Ong said.

China, having had an early start in developing digital economy, is deemed as a leading example that other countries can seek to emulate, according to  Ong.

A staff worker sells children's clothes via livestreaming in Zhili Town  of Huzhou, east China's Zhejiang Province, Feb. 8, 2021. (Xinhua/Xu Yu)

"The potential that China can unleash in the digital economy is enormous.  This is believed to be the next main thrust of a globalized economy  facing the protracted impact of the disease," he said.

Ong said that the BRI network is an existing platform ideal for  multilateral collaboration in addressing climate change, which is not  only a global concern but a challenge increasingly relevant to countries along the BRI, as many of them belong to the developing world.

In this regard, China has abundant experience in mitigating environmental  degradation via legislation, afforestation and other measures, providing inspirations for partners in the initiative, he added.

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