UN ESCAP chief highlights China's integral role in Asia-Pacific regional connectivity

ESCAP Executive Secretary Dr. Shamshad Akhtar delivers a statement on Asia-Pacific Regional Connectivity and Integration during her official visit to China, with Mr. Qu Xing, President of China Institute of International Studies

As countries debate and formulate strategies for the post-2015 development agenda, China's experience and leadership in sustainable development will be key to greater connectivity, integration and cooperation in the region, the top United Nations official for Asia and the Pacific said this week.

Wrapping up an official visit to China, United Nations Under-Secretary-General and Executive Secretary of the Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP), Dr. Shamshad Akhtar met today with Vice Minister of Finance Shi Yaobin to discuss China's proposals for an Asia Infrastructure Bank, which would inject badly needed financing for infrastructure projects throughout Asia and the Pacific, and support the region's vision of a more interconnected and integrated market.

Earlier this week, Dr. Akhtar noted that China had already proven the power of domestic connectivity, with its national, provincial and metropolitan multimodal transport links and development corridors.

“These have plugged even the most remote rural regions directly into the global economy, supporting [China's] goals of economic growth and social harmony," Dr. Akhtar said on Thursday at the China Institute of International Studies, a leading think tank in Beijing.

“China is also increasingly a nexus for wider Asia-Pacific connectivity and integration,” Dr. Akhtar stressed. “So far, Asia-Pacific economic dynamism has been driven by individual economies but our future regional success will depend on how closely and effectively regional economies can work in combination, together.”

As part of Dr. Akhtar's week-long visit to China, she held discussions with a number of other senior Chinese officials, including State Councilor Yang Jiechi, the Vice Chairman of the National Development and Reform Commission, Xie Zhenhua and Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs Li Baodong, on the country's initiatives for sustainable development, such as the ‘Silk Road Economic Belt’ and the ‘Maritime Silk Road,’ announced last year by President Xi Jinping.

In these discussions, Dr. Akhtar emphasized that in addition to "hard" connectivity such as roads and railways, “soft" connectivity, including people-to-people exchanges, information and communications technology and knowledge platforms were just as important components for linking the countries of Asia and the Pacific.

China's leading role in science, technology and innovation, as well as developing methods for financing projects, were also highlighted by Dr. Akhtar as integral to the implementation of sustainable development.

In addition to talks with the Ministries of Agriculture, Science and Technology, and Transport, the Executive Secretary visited with the Vice President of the All-China Women's Federation, Yu Hongqiu and the Administrator of the China National Space Administration, Xu Dazhe.