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The journey continues


China and Ecuador have forged closer ties in the fight against the virus and are implementing a blueprint for their post-pandemic relations

China and Ecuador have a long tradition of friendship. Since the establishment of diplomatic relations 41 years ago, bilateral ties between the two countries have reached new highs, rising to the level of comprehensive strategic partnership.

The two countries have deepened their mutual political trust, their pragmatic cooperation has yielded fruitful results, and the cultural and people-to-people exchanges between the two sides have become increasingly close.

China is Ecuador's second-largest trading partner, its most important source of bilateral financing and its sixth largest source of foreign direct investment. China has also signed a visa-free agreement with Ecuador, which makes personnel exchanges between both sides more convenient.

The exchanges between the think tanks, universities and art groups in the two countries have effectively promoted people-to-people exchanges. Facts show that the development of China-Ecuador relations has greatly benefited the two countries and their peoples, and become a model for cooperation and mutual benefit between large and small countries.

Since the outbreak of the novel coronavirus, the two countries have been helping each other, contributing to each other's fight against the virus and contributing to the building of a global community of health for all.

The two heads of state have laid out the direction for bilateral ties. At the height of China's fight against the virus, President Xi Jinping and Ecuadorian President Lenin Moreno, emphasized anti-virus cooperation between the two countries and pointed out the direction for actions in their telephone calls and letters.

Li Zhanshu, chairman of the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress of China, also exchanged letters in this regard with Ecuador's president of the National Assembly Cesar Ernesto Litardo Caicedo.

Other high-profile officials including the two countries' foreign ministers also voiced support for each other's anti-pandemic fight through telephone calls and letters.

The two countries repaid each other's favor in the fight against the virus through firm support. After the pandemic broke out in Ecuador, the Chinese side upheld the vision of building a community with a shared future for mankind and became the first country to respond to Ecuador's urgent needs by offering assistance. China was also the country's second largest source of donations during the pandemic.

Although faced with shortage of vaccines against COVID-19, China gave priority to ensuring the early delivery of vaccines purchased by the Ecuadorian government. A batch of vaccines from Chinese pharmaceutical company Sinovac arrived in Ecuador recently, becoming the largest vaccine shipment it has received so far.

The cargo gave a huge boost to Ecuador's national immunization campaign, demonstrating China's moral responsibility and friendship with Ecuador.

The Chinese side shared its pandemic prevention and control experience with Ecuador, inviting the South American country to use a China-developed online knowledge platform for pandemic prevention and providing the country with multiple versions of COVID-19 diagnosis and treatment protocols and prevention and control plans made with Chinese front-line experts' painstaking efforts.

The two countries have exchanged their experiences during eight videoconferences. They also cooperated on the COVID-19 drug and vaccine research and development. At present, another Chinese vaccine developer, Anhui Zhifei Longcom Biopharmaceutical Co Ltd, is carrying out phase III clinical trials with an Ecuador laboratory.

China and Ecuador have promoted cooperation despite the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. Both sides have made every effort to overcome the inconveniences caused by the pandemic, steadily promoted cooperation in various fields, and integrated their post-pandemic development plans.

The bilateral trade volume between China and Ecuador rose 50.9 percent year-on-year to $7.56 billion last year. Ecuador's exports to China reached $4.31 billion, a year-on-year increase of 72 percent. Ecuador reversed its trade deficit with China, achieving a surplus of $1 billion.

This hard-won achievement reflects the strong resilience, great potential and broad prospects of the practical cooperation between China and Ecuador. The two sides are continuing with the high-quality construction of the Belt and Road, traditional cooperative projects in infrastructure, energy and other fields, as well as emerging industries such as 5G, digital economy, clean energy and modern agriculture. These will create more growth opportunities for China-Ecuador pragmatic cooperation during the pandemic.

The two countries are also coordinating with multiple parties, devoting themselves to global anti-COVID-19 cooperation and public health governance, and supporting the World Health Organization to play a central role in the global fight against the virus.

The Ecuadorian side has actively participated in multilateral conferences such as the China-sponsored special videoconference of China and Latin American and Caribbean Countries' foreign ministers on COVID-19 and an anti-pandemic cooperation forum on digital technology.

The two countries have also closely coordinated on ensuring fair distribution of COVID-19 vaccines at meetings of the WHO, the United Nations Human Rights Council and other international organizations.

This year is of great significance for both China and Ecuador. China is launching its 14th Five-Year Plan (2021-25) and has embarked on a new journey of building a modern socialist country in an all-round way. In Ecuador, a new government led by Guillermo Lasso will bring the country to a new stage of national construction and economic recovery.

In this new scenario, China-Ecuador ties will usher in more new opportunities. The Chinese side expects to implement the important consensus reached by the two heads of state, make a blueprint for bilateral relations, enhance mutual trust on the basis of equality, expand cooperation under the framework of the Belt and Road Initiative, boost friendship in the anti-virus fight, draw the two peoples closer in mutual learning and understanding, and write a new chapter in developing their comprehensive strategic partnership.

The author is the Chinese ambassador to Ecuador. The author contributed this article to China Watch, a think tank powered by China Daily. The views do not necessarily reflect those of China Daily.