The “Silk Road Think Tank Network (SiLKS) Online Annual Meeting 2020” was held on the afternoon of September 29, 2020 under the guidance of the Development Research Center of the State Council (DRC), supported by the Center for International Relations and Sustainable Development (CIRSD), and hosted by the Secretariat of SiLKS. Ma Jiantang, Secretary of the Party Leadership Group of the DRC (Minister), attended the meeting and delivered keynote and concluding speeches. Yu Bin, member of the Party Leadership Group and Director General of the General Office of the DRC, presided over the opening ceremony, and Wang Xiaolong, Director General of the Department of International Economic Affairs of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, attended and addressed the meeting. Heads of 38 Chinese and foreign organizations, including the DRC, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO), the OECD Development Centre, think tanks such as the Russian Academy of Sciences, the Kazakhstan Institute of World Economy and Politics (IWEP), the Centre for Strategic and International Studies, Indonesia, the African Economic Research Consortium (AERC) of Kenya, the National Center of Strategic Planning(CEPLAN) of Peru, the Finance Center for South-South Cooperation (FCSSC), as well as multinational entities such as the 48 Group Club of the United Kingdom, Ericsson and the Suez Environment joined the meeting.
The Annual Meeting aimed to safeguard the multilateral mechanism, deepen global partnership, and promote high-quality Belt and Road cooperation in the post-COVID-19 era. The Meeting revised the Silk Road Think Tank Network Guiding Principles and accepted five new members and partners, namely the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development, the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa, the African Capacity Building Foundation (ACBF) and the Policy Studies Institute of Ethiopia and the AERC. The Meeting also elected a new Steering Committee with Party Secretary Ma Jiantang and Mr. Jusuf Wanandi, Co-founder of the Indonesian Center for Strategic and International Studies, as Co-chairs.
Party Secretary Ma Jiantang said that presently the global epidemic is still raging, the world economy is in serious recession, economic globalization and the sustainable development goals are facing serious challenges. It is more important than ever for us to uphold the concept of a community of shared future for mankind, work together, strengthen solidarity and cooperation, adhere to multilateralism, support the important role played by the United Nations, the World Health Organization and other international institutions, rise up to global challenges through connectivity, openness and inclusiveness, and promote the recovery and sustainable development of the world economy.
Ma Jiantang pointed out that, since its inception seven years ago, the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) has contributed significantly to implementing the United Nations 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, promoting sustainable global development, improving the global economic governance system and facilitating the building of a community of shared future for mankind. The BRI has become a global public good and an open and inclusive platform for international cooperation for the benefit of all. In the post-pandemic era, the BRI partners are called upon to uphold the principle of extensive consultation, joint contribution and shared benefit, practice the concept of open, green and clean development, pursue high standards, people’s wellbeing and sustainability, focus on new highlights such as the Silk Road of Health and the Digital Silk Road, and promote a high-quality “Belt and Road”.
As for the future of SiLKS, Ma Jiantang shared four suggestions: first, improve the governance mechanism to enhance the effectiveness of cooperation; second, focus on cooperative research to provide intellectual support; third, conduct in-depth exchanges and seminars to strengthen knowledge sharing; and fourth, strengthen international communication and tell the story of “Belt and Road”.
At the Meeting, participants believed that since the outbreak of COVID-19, SiLKS members and partners have worked in unity and helped each other with mutual sympathy and real actions to fight the pandemic. The Secretariat of SiLKS has donated pandemic-fighting supplies to hard-hit regions, which are shining examples of the Silk Road spirit. As the world economy is wrestling with the pandemic, coupled with the anti-globalization trend, strengthening the international cooperation between think tanks is of great significance for defeating the virus, pushing for global economic recovery and implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, advancing economic globalization and improving the global economic governance system. SiLKS will play a more important role as an international think tank network in rooting for multilateralism, promoting mutual trust, and enhancing solidarity and cooperation in the post-COVID-19 era. Their efforts to conduct cooperative research, exchange ideas and step up international communication on issues such as promoting economic recovery, synergizing the BRI and relevant regional and sub-regional mechanisms, and pushing for the sustainable development of economy, society and environment globally will contribute to the high-quality development of the Belt and Road in the post-epidemic era.
The Meeting issued the SiLKS Online Annual Meeting 2020 Joint Initiative. The Joint Initiative noted that countries are confronted with the arduous tasks to control the epidemic, stabilize the economy, and protect livelihoods. All parties should work together to score a global victory over the pandemic and jointly build a global community of health for all. SiLKS members and partners oppose the any attempt to politicize the COVID-19 pandemic, label the virus, and stigmatize any particular country. All parties should respect each other and respond to the pandemic through strong and coordinated measures at the multilateral level.
The Joint Initiative put forth that all parties should adhere to globalization and multilateralism, enhance coordination of international macroeconomic regulation and economic stimulus policy, jointly safeguard the global governance system with the United Nations as the core, support the leadership of the World Health Organization in global public health governance, ensure the stable and smooth functioning of global industrial and supply chains and uphold the multilateral trading system with the World Trade Organization as the core.
The Joint Initiative stated that SiLKS members and partners endorse the Joint Statement of the High-level Video Conference on Belt and Road International Cooperation. It is necessary to enhance results-oriented cooperation in finance and trade, innovation and technology, and people-to-people exchanges, and make the BRI a model of cooperation, health, recovery, and growth.
The Joint Initiative expected members and partners to jointly build SiLKS into a world-leading and influential network of think tanks with sound governance, adequate funding, dynamic academic exchanges, and research findings, and provide high-standard intellectual support to high-quality Belt and Road cooperation in the post-COVID-19 era.
At the meeting, more than 40 Chinese and foreign delegates delivered speeches and comments including Balazs Horvath, RBAP Senior Economic and Strategic Advisor on Belt and Road Initiative, UNDP; Mario Pezzini, Director of the OECD Development Center; Emmanuel Nnadozie, Executive Secretary of the African Capacity Building Foundation; Stephen Perry, Chairman of 48 Group Club; Vuk Jeremić, President of the Center for International Relations and Sustainable Development; Zsolt Barthel-Rúzsa, Executive Vice-Chairman of the Századvég Foundation of Hungary; Mushahid Hussain, Chairman of the Pakistan-China Institute; Javier Abugattás, President of the National Center of Strategic Planning(CEPLAN) of Peru; Bert Hofman, Director of the East Asian Institute at NUS; Cai Esheng, Chairman of the Finance Center for South-South Cooperation; and Tao Pingsheng, Secretary-General of SiLKS and Director General of Department of International Cooperation, DRC.
SiLKS was launched in 2015 by the DRC in collaboration with relevant international think tanks and international organizations. The network currently consists of 59 members and partners including 41 authoritative think tanks, 11 international organizations and 7 multinational enterprises, with the Secretariat located in the Department of International Cooperation of the DRC.