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#China has the opportunity to help develop SE Asian countries under BRI: #Mahathir

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The Silk Road connects China and Europe and is an important trade route between East and West. President Xi Jinping proposed the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) to further expand the connotation of the Silk Road, Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad (pictured) said, writes People's Daily's Lin Rui.

Mahathir is set to visit China for the upcoming second Belt and Road Forum for International Co-operation (BRF) later this month. Southeast Asian countries are important participants in BRI. “We think that China has the opportunity to help develop countries in Southeast Asia,” said the prime minister.

In 1974, Malaysia became the first ASEAN country to establish diplomatic ties with China. “45 years ago we decided to establish diplomatic relations, and since then the relationship between Malaysia and China has improved tremendously. Malaysia has benefited because we have a huge market,” Mahathir said.

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Bilateral relations and co-operation between China and Malaysia have been developing fast in recent years. China has been Malaysia's largest trading partner since 2009, and total trade reached a record high of $108.6 billion in 2018, China's records show.

Mahathir has visited China many times. He has witnessed the achievements since China's reform and opening up. “China has become a very prosperous country and at this moment is the second biggest economy in the world, and I think this is extremely good because China has much to contribute to the development of the world, including developing countries. So I think China has made a very important decision to open up China and join the world market,” Mahathir said.

Mahathir was impressed with China's achievements in the field of high technology. “Indeed, China has, in many cases, surpassed other parts of the world. So we feel that China is a good model for us and we can learn a lot from China. I think China's contributions to the world economy is very big,” he added.

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Competition: EU, US and the People's Republic of China participated in the Fifth Global Maritime Regulatory Summit

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On 7 September, senior government officials from the EU, the US and the People's Republic of China participated in the Fifth Global Maritime Regulatory Summit. Participants included representatives of the competition and maritime authorities responsible for regulating international liner shipping in the world's largest liner trade lanes.

The summit covered sectoral developments since the start of the coronavirus pandemic, including the challenges faced by the international container transport sector and broader issues of maritime supply chains. Participants agreed that the pandemic presented operators in shipping companies, ports and logistics services with exceptional challenges, on routes to and from the EU as well in other parts of the world.

They exchanged views on the respective actions undertaken by their jurisdictions, as well as future outlook and perspectives, including possible actions to increase the resilience of the sector. The summit takes place every two years and is a forum to foster cooperation between the three authorities. The next summit will be convened in 2023 in China.

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Reimagining a more resilient UN system with Taiwan in it

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After more than 200 million infections and over 4 million deaths and counting, the COVID-19 pandemic has raged across the globe. This has created a profoundly devastating socio-economic impact on our interconnected world, with virtually no countries spared. The pandemic has disrupted global trade, exacerbated poverty, impeded education, and compromised gender equality, with middle to low income nations bearing the brunt of the burden, writes Jaushieh Joseph Wu, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Republic of China (Taiwan) (pictured, below).

As many countries brace for another spike of the virus, prompted by the highly contagious Delta variant, the world looks up to the United Nations (UN) to ramp up comprehensive efforts to resolve the crisis, ensure better recovery, and rebuild sustainably. This is a daunting task that requires all hands on deck. It is time for the global body to welcome Taiwan, a valuable and worthy partner that stands ready to lend a helping hand.  

Over the past few months, Taiwan, like many other countries, has been dealing with a surge of COVID-19 cases after almost a year of success in containing the virus. Yet, it got a handle on the situation and emerged even more ready to work with allies and partners to tackle the challenges posed by the pandemic. Taiwan’s effective response to the pandemic, its rapid capacity expansion to meet global supply chain demand, and its substantive assistance toward partner countries around the world all speak to the fact that there is no lack of compelling reasons for Taiwan to play a constructive role in the UN system.

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However, under pressure from the People’s Republic of China (PRC), the UN and its specialized agencies continue to reject Taiwan, citing the 1971 UN General Assembly Resolution 2758 (XXVI) as a legal basis for this exclusion. But the language of the resolution is crystal clear: it merely addresses the issue of China’s representation in the UN; there is no mention of Chinese claim of sovereignty over Taiwan, nor does it authorize the PRC to represent Taiwan in the UN system. The fact is, the PRC has never governed Taiwan. This is the reality and status quo across the two sides of the Taiwan Strait. The Taiwanese people can only be represented on the international stage by their popularly elected government. By falsely equating the language of the resolution with Beijing’s “one China Principle,” the PRC is arbitrarily imposing its political views on the UN.

The absurdity doesn’t end there. This exclusion also obstructs the participation of Taiwan’s civil society. Taiwanese passport holders are denied access to UN premises, both for tours and meetings, while Taiwanese journalists cannot obtain accreditation to cover UN events. The only reason for this discriminatory treatment is their nationality. Barring members of Taiwan’s civil society from the UN defeats the ideal of multilateralism, contravenes the UN’s founding principles of promoting respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms, and hampers the UN’s overall efforts.

For six decades, Taiwan has been providing assistance to partner countries around the world. Since the adoption of the UN 2030 Agenda, it has focused on helping partners achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), and, more recently, engage in antipandemic response and postpandemic recovery. Meanwhile, at home, Taiwan has fulfilled its SDGs in gender equality, clean water and sanitation, and good health and well-being, among others. Our innovative, community-based solutions are harnessing public-private partnerships for the benefit of society as a whole.

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The World Happiness Report 2021, released by the Sustainable Development Solutions Network, ranked Taiwan the happiest in East Asia, and 24th in the world. The ranking indicates how the people of a country feel about the social support they receive, and reflects in large part a country’s implementation of the SDGs. Taiwan is willing to pass on its experience and work with global partners to build a better and more resilient future for all.

At a time when the world is sounding the clarion call for climate actions and to achieve net-zero carbon emissions by 2050, Taiwan is actively charting a roadmap toward the goal, and has drafted dedicated legislation to facilitate this process. Climate change knows no borders, and concerted efforts are a must if we want a sustainable future. Taiwan knows this, and is working on the best ways to turn the challenges of carbon reduction into new opportunities.

In his oath of office in June this year, UN Secretary-General António Guterres stressed that the COVID-19 pandemic has revealed our shared vulnerability and interconnectedness. He said that the UN, and the states and people it serves, can only benefit from bringing others to the table.

Denying partners that have the ability to contribute is a moral and material loss to the world as we seek to recover better together. Taiwan is a force for good. Now is the time to bring Taiwan to the table and let Taiwan help.

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EU-Taiwan relations: MEPs push for stronger partnership

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In a new report adopted on Wednesday (1 September), MEPs on the Foreign Affairs Committee advocate closer relations and a stronger partnership between the EU and Taiwan guided by the EU’s One China Policy, AFET.

They also hail Taiwan as a key EU partner and democratic ally in the Indo-Pacific that contributes to maintaining a rules-based order in the midst of an intensifying rivalry between the great powers in the region.

Prepare the ground for a new Bilateral Investment Agreement

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To step up cooperation, the text stresses the need to urgently begin an “impact assessment, public consultation and scoping exercise” on an EU-Taiwan Bilateral Investment Agreement (BIA). MEPs highlight the importance of trade and economic relations between the two sides, including on matters relating to multilateralism and the World Trade Organization, technology such as 5G, public health, as well as essential cooperation on critical supplies such as semiconductors.

Deep concerns over Chinese military pressure against Taiwan

On another note, the report expresses grave concern over China’s continued military belligerence, pressure, assault exercises, airspace violations and disinformation campaigns against Taiwan. It urges the EU to do more to address these tensions and to protect Taiwan’s democracy and the island’s status as an important EU partner.

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MEPs insist that any change to Chinese-Taiwanese cross-strait relations must be neither unilateral nor against the will of Taiwanese citizens. They also issue a stark reminder of the direct connection between European prosperity and Asian security and of the consequences for Europe if a conflict were to extend well beyond the economic realm.

The text, which also addresses a range of other aspects and recommendations related to EU-Taiwan relations, will now be submitted to a vote in plenary. It was approved by 60 votes in favour, 4 against with 6 abstentions.

“The first European Parliament report on EU-Taiwan relations sends a strong signal that the EU is ready to upgrade its relationship with our key partner Taiwan. The Commission must now intensify EU-Taiwan relations and pursue a comprehensive enhanced partnership with Taiwan. Work on an impact assessment, public consultation and a scoping exercise on a Bilateral Investment Agreement (BIA) with the Taiwanese authorities in preparation for negotiations to deepen our economic ties must begin before the end of this year,” said rapporteur Charlie Weimers (ECR, Sweden) after the vote.

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