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

Abstract : 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.

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.

About Xinhua Silk Road

Xinhua Silk Road (en.imsilkroad.com) is the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) portal.China’s silk road economic belt and the 21st century maritime silk road website,includes BRI Policy, BRI Trade, BRI Investment, Belt and Road weekly, Know Belt and Road, and the integrated information services for the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI).

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

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