On November 30, 2020, the Second Vice Ministers’ Special Meeting on COVID-19 between China and Pacific Island Countries was held via video link. Co-chaired by Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Zheng Zeguang and Minister of Foreign Affairs and External Trade of Solomon Islands Jeremiah Manele, the meeting was attended and addressed by Niue’s Premier and Foreign Minister Dalton Tagelagi. Representatives from China and 10 Pacific Island Countries which have established diplomatic ties with China, i.e. Fiji, Samoa, Papua New Guinea, Vanuatu, the Federated States of Micronesia, Cook Islands, Tonga, Niue, Solomon Islands, and Kiribati participated in the meeting.
Zheng Zeguang introduced China’s efforts in coordinating COVID-19 response and economic and social development, and spoke highly of the significant progress made by island countries in fighting against COVID-19 and safeguarding people’s livelihood. He stressed that China will continue to uphold the concept of a community with a shared future for mankind, share its experience of pandemic prevention, control and treatment, provide support and assistance to island countries in need, implement the solemn commitment of making China’s COVID-19 vaccine a global public good, and assist island countries with their COVID-19 response and economic recovery. He said that China will, in the context of regular pandemic prevention and control, build “fast tracks” for personnel exchanges and “green lanes” for the flow of goods with island countries, and keep industrial and supply chains stable and open. Zheng Zeguang also informed island countries of China’s recommendations of enhancing cooperation with island countries in the fields of vaccine supply, Joint COVID-19 Response Fund, debt service suspension, e-commerce, personnel training and local cooperation in the next stage.
Premier Tagelagi and Foreign Minister Jeremiah Manele congratulated on the convening of this meeting, and appreciated the assistance offered by China for Niue and other Pacific Island Countries’ COVID-19 response and work and production resumption. Representatives of other island countries highly valued China’s remarkable achievements in pandemic prevention and control and work and production resumption, appreciated new cooperation initiatives put forward by China, and expressed their willingness to deepen cooperation with China in the fields of COVID-19 response, economy, trade, infrastructure, health, education and tourism, in order to defeat the pandemic and restore economy at an early date.
All participants reaffirmed that the pandemic is a common threat to the mankind, and its response requires strengthened international cooperation. We need to continue to support the leadership role of the World Health Organization in coordinating the global response to COVID-19, and oppose to any acts of politicization or stigmatization associated with the pandemic. Both sides need to reinforce coordination and cooperation on international and regional affairs, jointly uphold international justice, safeguard multilateralism and the interests of developing countries, and push forward the comprehensive strategic partnership between the two sides.
A joint press release was published after this meeting.