On September 30, 2020, the 2nd Forum of Science, Technology and Innovation of China-Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (“China-CELAC STI Forum”) was held by video link. The forum was co-chaired by Mr. Wang Zhigang, Minister of Science and Technology of China, and Mr. Marcelo Ebrard, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Mexico, which assumes pro tempore presidency of CELAC. The forum brought together heads of science and related authorities of 20 CELAC countries, namely Argentina, Chile, Costa Rica, Colombia, Cuba, Guatemala, the Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guyana, Honduras, Jamaica, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Trinidad and Tobago, Uruguay and Venezuela. Aiming to promote mutually beneficial and win-win cooperation in science, technology and innovation between China and CELAC countries in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic, the forum focused on issues including the scientific research cooperation on COVID-19 response, the development of science and technology against the pandemic, the trend of science and technology in the post-COVID era and the prospects of science, technology and innovation cooperation between China and CELAC countries.
Wang noted that Chinese President Xi Jinping’s proposal to jointly build a China-CELAC relationship of the new era featuring equality, mutual benefit, innovation, openness and people’s well-being, and foster a China-CELAC community with a shared future is applauded by CELAC countries. The Chinese government takes innovation as the primary driving force for development and is committed to innovation with a global vision. In recent years, China has notably improved its scientific prowess and innovation capability, and contributed more and more “Chinese wisdom” to addressing global challenges. Through the joint efforts of Chinese and CELAC leaders, science, technology and innovation cooperation has played an increasingly prominent role in growing China-CELAC relations. In the face of the COVID-19 pandemic, Chinese scientists have spared no effort in pursuing scientific research on epidemic control and made important contributions to the global fight against the pandemic. China is standing firmly with CELAC countries at these difficult times, and working hand in hand with them to develop drugs, vaccines and testing reagents. To contain the spread of the virus, China and CELAC countries should further strengthen scientific and technological exchanges and cooperation, with a focus on the fight against the pandemic, to meet challenges together; explore new models of cooperation and foster synergy of development strategies; build platforms and strengthen communication; and create a sound ecosystem for cooperation to produce more fruitful results.
Ebrard said that CELAC countries and China have urgent cooperation needs in fighting COVID-19, optimizing industrial structure and promoting economic growth. CELAC highly values its comprehensive partnership with China, and cooperation on science, technology and innovation plays a vital role in driving CELAC-China relations. Going forward, the CELAC side stands ready to further deepen cooperation with China in science and technology to address common challenges.
The representatives of CELAC countries applauded the fruitful results achieved in China-CELAC cooperation on science, technology and innovation, endorsed the cooperation initiative proposed by Minister Wang Zhigang, and appreciated the open and responsible manner of China’s scientific community in pursuing research cooperation on COVID-19. Representatives of several countries expressed their gratitude for the help and support provided by the Chinese side. The participants of the forum shared the view that science, technology and innovation has been vital in fighting COVID-19 and restoring economic and social development. They all expressed the readiness to seize the opportunity to deepen cooperation in science, technology and innovation, promote high-quality economic and social development in CELAC countries and China, and harness science and technology, more than ever, to tackle global challenges and enhance human wellbeing.
As an intergovernmental cooperation mechanism on science, technology and innovation jointly established by China and CELAC countries, the China-CELAC STI Forum has provided a sound platform for the two sides to communicate innovation policies, exchange best practices and explore ways of cooperation, which will bring win-win benefits for China and CELAC countries.
The Joint Statement of the Forum of Science, Technology and Innovation of China-Community of Latin American and Caribbean States was adopted. The forum also brought together the representatives of China National Space Administration, the Chinese Academy of Sciences and other relevant departments of the Chinese government, and Mexican Ambassador to China José Luis Bernal, Argentine Ambassador to China Luis María Kreckler, and Cuban Ambassador to China Carlos Miguel Pereira Hernández on the CELAC side. Before the start of the forum, Minister Wang Zhigang met with the three ambassadors and exchanged views with them on strengthening bilateral and multilateral exchanges and cooperation in science, technology and innovation.