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Help and hope


Despite the COVID-19 pandemic, China and Vanuatu have deepened their cooperation under the framework of the Belt and Road Initiative

A batch of 80,000 doses of COVID-19 vaccines donated by China arrived in Port Vila, the capital of Vanuatu, earlier this month. This was the second batch of vaccines China has provided to the Pacific island nation. The first batch of 20,000 doses was sent in June. The second batch, on Nov 7, was delivered less than a month after Vanuatu made the request.

Vanuatu's Minister of Health said, against the background of the raging pandemic and disrupted transport and supply chains, China and Vanuatu have worked together to overcome multiple obstacles. The Chinese side has made great efforts to ensure the timely delivery of the vaccines, displaying the Chinese speed. China's support and help have reinforced Vanuatu's confidence in fighting the virus and enhanced its capacity to control the pandemic, which reflects the deep friendship and solid comprehensive strategic partnership between the two countries.

No one is safe until everyone is safe. China and Vanuatu have made vaccination a top priority for cutting the transmission lines of the virus. The Chinese vaccines, which are safe and easy to store, have earned acclaim in Vanuatu. The delivery of Chinese vaccines has demonstrated the two countries' concrete efforts to build a global line of defense against the virus.

Since the start of the pandemic, Chinese President Xi Jinping has stressed on multiple occasions, including the 73rd World Health Assembly and the 16th G20 Leaders' Summit, that vaccines should be made a global public good. China is committed to ensuring the accessibility and affordability of vaccines in developing countries. And with concrete actions, it has honored its promise as a major responsible country, and demonstrated its resolve to defeat the virus along with the rest of the world.

Vaccine cooperation is an epitome of the comprehensive strategic partnership between China and Vanuatu. In addition to their joint fight against the virus, the two countries have also deepened exchanges and cooperation in various fields, such as disaster relief and economic recovery.

The past year and more have seen close communication among leaders of both countries through "cloud diplomacy", charting the course for bilateral relations. Vanuatu Prime Minister Bob Loughman and several ministers attended the Communist Party of China and World Political Parties Summit, which President Xi addressed via video link. Vanuatu Foreign Minister attended the first China-Pacific Island Countries Foreign Ministers' Meeting, which was held online in October.

Major political parties from Vanuatu, including the Vanua'aku Party and the Union of Moderate Parties, sent congratulatory messages to the CPC on its centenary. Prime Minister Loughman spoke highly of President Xi's leadership and his farsighted vision of building a community with a shared future for mankind, saying the CPC's development theories and practices provide valuable experience for other developing countries to address their challenges and problems they face.

In recent years, the two sides have constantly pushed forward practical cooperation. Under the framework of the Belt and Road Initiative, China and Vanuatu have deepened their cooperation in infrastructure, manufacturing and human resources. China has provided aid to Vanuatu with no political strings attached. As has been stressed by many Vanuatu statesmen, including Prime Minister Loughman, "Without roads, there is no hope." The construction of the Pentecost Road at the start of this year was the latest fruit of the two countries' friendship. The project will benefit residents and inject new impetus into Vanuatu's economic recovery.

Education is deemed to be "the beacon of hope" in Vanuatu. China signed a Memorandum of Understanding on Joint Chinese Language Education in Primary and Secondary Schools in the Republic of Vanuatu in September, indicating a new breakthrough in education cooperation between the two sides. It will create numerous opportunities for the youth in Vanuatu.

The Port Vila City Community Sports Complex project aided by Foshan in Guangdong province broke ground in September, marking a new stage in the two cities' friendship. In November, quality products from Vanuatu were put on display at the China International Import Expo for the fourth time in a row, creating greater opportunities for Vanuatu goods to enter the Chinese market.

Since China and Vanuatu established diplomatic ties in 1982, they have continuously fortified political mutual trust and reaped a wealth of fruits in exchanges and cooperation. The two countries' relations have set an example of China's diplomatic ties with Pacific island nations. Reviewing the history and looking into the future, the two countries should adhere to mutual respect, equality and mutual trust, strive for win-win cooperation, and enhance cultural exchanges with an inclusive and open mind.

As developing countries, both China and Vanuatu cherish their hard-won national independence and self-reliance, and are both striving to meet their own people's aspirations for a better life. China has embarked on a new journey toward achieving its second centenary goal of building a modern socialist country in all respects, while Vanuatu is making the transition to becoming a developing country. The two countries enjoy huge potential for cooperation in areas such as agriculture and fisheries, public health, infrastructure, transportation and communication, trade, education, tourism, marine development and traditional medicine. They can also join hands to improve global governance, fight climate change and achieve sustainable development. As China further deepens reform and opens its door even wider, the nation with a population of 1.4 billion people and a middle-income group of 400 million people will surely offer bigger market opportunities to Vanuatu.

Approaching the threshold of 40 years of diplomatic ties, China and Vanuatu enjoy brilliant prospects ahead. China is ready to work with Vanuatu to enhance friendly exchanges and practical cooperation within the framework of the Belt and Road Initiative and in alignment with Global Development Initiative. Together, we can create a better future for the peoples of the two countries.

The author is Chinese ambassador to Vanuatu. 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.

Contact the editor at editor@chinawatch.cn