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Seize the Historic Opportunity of BRI for Common Development of China and Sudan

Ma Xinmin
Chinese Ambassador to Sudan

Over the past 100 years, the Communist Party of China (CPC) has gained rich, valuable experience in state governance, one of which is adhering to the basic national policy of opening up. Since the 18th National Congress, the Party and the state have ushered into a new era of socialism with Chinese characteristics. Facing the changes in domestic and international situations in the new historic context, the CPC Central Committee, with Comrade Xi Jinping at its core, seizes opportunities at the new stage of development, upholds the vision of building a community with a shared future for mankind, and works actively with the global community to advance the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). The BRI, a key approach adopted by China in the new historic context to promote all-around opening up, is taken as an upgrade of China’s opening up and serves as a vital platform for mutually beneficial cooperation between China and the rest of the world.

Chinese President Xi Jinping put forward the major initiative of building a Silk Road Economic Belt and a 21st-Century Maritime Silk Road (Belt and Road Initiative) during his visit to Central Asian countries in September 2013 and to southeast Asian countries in October 2013, which marks a new chapter of China’s Belt and Road history. In the ensuing seven years, the BRI has attracted close attention from the international community and won extensive support abroad, transforming from an abstract overall outline into a meticulously detailed blueprint.

At the Opening Ceremony of the Boao Forum for Asia Annual Conference 2021 held on April 20, 2021, President Xi Jinping in his keynote speech called for building a closer partnership for health cooperation, a closer partnership for connectivity, a closer partnership for green development and a closer partnership for openness and inclusiveness. His proposals charted the course for future high-quality Belt and Road cooperation within the international community. As a country along the ancient Silk Road routes, Sudan was one of the earliest countries to actively respond to the BRI and enter into a Belt and Road cooperation agreement with China. More importantly, President Xi’s speech provides a good opportunity for both countries to expand cooperation under the BRI framework.

China and Sudan should build a closer partnership for health cooperation. This year marks the 50th anniversary of the sending of a medical assistance team to Sudan by the Chinese government. Over the past half of a century, medical and health cooperation between our two countries, committed to serving local people, has been a shining example of bilateral practical cooperation, with fruitful results achieved on many fronts, from helping with the construction of hospitals to establishing the hospital pairing-up cooperation mechanism, from providing medical assistance in clinical treatment to helping establish the public health system, from expanding general medical services to specialized medical services to donating drugs and investing in the pharmaceutical industry.

Our medical and health cooperation has evolved into a multi-layer and multi-faceted mechanism of cooperation in broad areas, including sending the medical assistance team, assistance with the construction of hospitals, donation of medical devices and drugs, organization of Brightness Action programs to diagnose and treat local cataract patients free of charge, and offering bilateral personal training.

To help Sudan fight the once-in-a-century epidemic, the Chinese government sent a 20-member medical expert team and provided anti-epidemic medical supplies in 17 batches to various sectors in Sudan. China also donated 250,000 doses of COVID-19 vaccines to the Sudanese side, becoming the first to offer vaccine aid to Sudan under the bilateral framework. In the post-COVID era, China stands ready to work with Sudan to deliver the proposals and initiatives made by President Xi Jinping at the opening of the 73rd World Health Assembly and the Extraordinary China-Africa Summit on Solidarity Against COVID-19. We will take solid steps to advance the health care initiative adopted under the framework of the FOCAC and the CASCF.

We will continue to tap the potential of the medical assistance team to Sudan, make full use of the mechanism for pairing up Chinese and Sudanese hospitals, and further enhance exchanges and cooperation in public health, prevention and control of infectious diseases, medical infrastructure, medical personnel training, and capacity building. With these actions, China-Sudan medical cooperation will be lifted to a new level.

China and Sudan should build a closer partnership for connectivity. First, our two countries need to maintain better communication of our policies. Under the principle of achieving shared growth through consultation and collaboration, our mechanisms for political consultation and business interactions ought to play a bigger role in the coordination of policies. This will inject new momentum into our pragmatic and friendly cooperation. Second, our two countries need to increase infrastructure connectivity. China will do its utmost to construct quality infrastructure at reasonable prices for Sudan including ports, bridges, and electricity facilities, and have them interconnected.

By further promoting the hard connectivity of infrastructure and soft connectivity of rules and standards, China will provide strong support for Sudan’s economic and social development. Third, our two countries need to work faster to keep a smooth trade flow. China will help the traditional competitive industries of Sudan better integrate themselves into global supply, industrial, and value chains, through fully exploiting the resource and geographical superiority enjoyed by Sudan and introducing general international business practices and models. The two nations need to find ways to forge cooperation in a broader range of areas. Fourth, our two countries need to enhance financial connectivity.

Financial institutions of each side will be fully encouraged to offer investment and financing services for our practical cooperation and solve the fund shortage that impedes Sudan’s sustainable development, thus enabling the related parties to get engaged and share the benefits in the long run. Fifth, our two countries need to boost people-to-people connectivity. China will build bridges for the two cultures to learn from each other, create a pattern of multi-faceted people-to-people exchanges, and tell true stories about China-Sudan friendship on the world stage. In this way, our enduring friendship will win much more public support.

China and Sudan should build a closer partnership for green development. China-Sudan cooperation in green development has been proved successful in many cases.

In recent years, with the assistance of Chinese experts and technical, financial, and equipment support from China, the white industry chain of Sudan, represented by the cotton sector, has begun to take shape. The Sino-Sudan Agricultural Development Zone, located in Sudan’s Rahad irrigation area and invested in by Chinese companies, successfully built a whole cotton industry chain that integrates cotton breeding, planting and processing, services for agricultural machinery, and cotton trading. As a result, the output of cotton growing is notably increased, benefiting more than 200,000 local farmers. At the end of last year, China and Sudan entered into an implementation agreement for the China-aid slaughterhouse project, under which China will assist with building a modern slaughterhouse in Omdurman.

Upon completion, the slaughterhouse is expected to have the capacity to slaughter approximately 144,000 head of cattle or camels and 600,000 head of goats. The China-aid slaughterhouse project, a key project in China-Sudan strategic agricultural cooperation, will be helpful for Sudan to build a modern industry chain for livestock farming, thus having profound implications for enhancing Sudan’s capacity for independent economic development and improving the wellbeing of local farmers and herdsmen. Going forward, China is ready to work with Sudan to scale up cooperation in green infrastructure, green energy, and green finance, to make green a defining feature of our Belt and Road cooperation. China and Sudan need to bring together the respective strengths in exploring new growth drivers for our cooperation on green development.

China will actively encourage enterprises to explore the development of economic crops like sesame, peanuts, and alfalfa with the aid of the Sino-Sudan Agricultural Development Zone program, and to increase the added values of livestock products and build a green industry chain for livestock farming with the aid of the China-aid slaughterhouse project. Upholding the principle that the BeiDou Navigation Satellite System is developed by China and dedicated to the world, China will apply real-time navigation services and early warnings against disasters to help Sudan increase the output and quality of its agriculture and animal husbandry sectors and achieve intelligent agriculture and intelligent livestock farming.

China and Sudan should build a closer partnership for openness and inclusiveness. The BRI consultation is not China’s solo show, but rather a chorus involving countries around the world. The pursuit of the BRI cannot be achieved by China alone but entails the wisdom and efforts of every participant. Under the principle of “market-based operation, openness and transparency, compliance with international practices, and rules-based approach”, the BRI is committed to maintaining and building an open world economy, collaboratively creating a favorable environment for opening-up and development, and promoting the establishment of a fair, equitable and transparent system of international trade and investment rules.

As the BRI has emerged as a truly inclusive global-level cooperation initiative, China sincerely welcomes advice and suggestions from all countries and will have dialogue and consultations with them based on mutual respect and equality. Together with other countries, China is resolved to play the chorus well and works to advance the BRI at higher standards, with better quality, and for more benefits. As for the Belt and Road cooperation between China and Sudan, the two countries need to act in the spirit of openness and inclusiveness and work with all willing participants to build our Belt and Road cooperation into a pathway to poverty alleviation and growth, which will contribute to a bright future of peace, development, and cooperation.

We firmly believe that as long as China and Sudan grasp the historic opportunity of Belt and Road cooperation and meet challenges head-on with hard work and courage, we will be able to accomplish steady and sustainable progress in the BRI by drawing on our respective strengths for shared development. This will enable us to break new ground for practical, friendly cooperation between the two sides.

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