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More dynamic Asia-Pacific makes for better global community

By He Fei | Xinhua | Updated: 2021-07-19 10:10

Photo taken on Jan. 14, 2021 shows a night view of Lujiazui in Pudong of east China's Shanghai Municipality. (Xinhua/Fang Zhe)

Across the planet, new variants of the coronavirus are supercharging a further spread of the pandemic, and vaccine inequality is making the already uneven global economic recovery worse.

Faced with these two challenges, leaders of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) have promised at a virtual gathering on Friday to redouble their efforts to navigate their way out of the crisis and stay committed to building an open, dynamic, resilient and peaceful Asia-Pacific community over the next two decades.

If those pledges can be turned effectively into actions, such endeavors will accelerate regional recovery and contribute to the welfare of the rest of the global community.

While the world is on the alert in the face of constant mutations of the cunning pathogen, solidarity and collaboration remain the key for the human race to tame the virus.

For more than a year, the Asia-Pacific region has responded in significant ways to this crisis. As vaccines are a powerful weapon to beat the pandemic, many countries in the region have pushed for fast and effective vaccine roll-outs on the national and regional levels, and sent vaccines to others in need.

However, APEC member economies can still do more to beef up the regional and global health response systems.

For example, while China has provided more than 500 million doses of vaccines to other developing countries, Chinese President Xi Jinping said in his address at Friday's meeting that China will provide an additional 3 billion US dollars over the next three years to support a COVID-19 response and economic and social recovery in other developing countries.

Beijing has also financed the setup of a fund under APEC to fight COVID-19 and fuel economic recovery.

In a statement issued after the meeting, the leaders also voiced their commitment to making quality-assured vaccines accessible and affordable to all. Actions including expanding vaccine manufacture and supply, and encouraging the voluntary transfer of vaccine production technologies, will further boost the vaccines' role in the fight to vanquish the virus.

A dynamic and balanced economic recovery in the region and around the world is only feasible when the pandemic is defeated.

As a major powerhouse of global growth, a more open and integrated Asia-Pacific will bring significant, positive spillover effects to the wider world.

Thus, regional countries should ramp up their efforts to establish a high-standard Asia-Pacific Free Trade Area, and implement the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership, the world's biggest free trade agreement, at an early date.

In this process, China, the second largest economy of the world, will continue to play a crucial role. Official data showed that the country's gross domestic product expanded 12.7 percent year-on-year in the first half of 2021.

Notably, China is entering a new development stage and adhering to a new development philosophy which features innovation, coordination, greenness, openness and sharing. This transformation will create more opportunities for regional growth.

Regional countries should also optimize their development strategies to make economic growth more efficient and sustainable.

Amid the pandemic, the digital economy has shown its edge as a new driver for future growth. In the statement on Friday, APEC members stressed the need to strengthen digital infrastructure and technologies towards a digital future. While fostering such transformation, they should also work for a digital business environment that is open, fair, and non-discriminatory.

Meanwhile, they need to push for joint endeavors to achieve balanced, inclusive and sustainable development, such as promoting green growth, and empowering women and other vulnerable groups in the job market.

"Turn your face to the sun and the shadows will fall behind you," the Chinese president said at the informal APEC gathering.

As long as the Asia-Pacific economies can stay united and stay focused on their shared vision, they will ultimately put the current crisis behind them and join the rest of the world in building a brighter, shared future for all.

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