Chinese President Xi Jinping gives a toast at a banquet to welcome distinguished guests from around the world who attended the opening ceremony of the Beijing 2022 Olympic Winter Games in Beijing, capital of China, Feb. 5, 2022. (Xinhua/Zhai Jianlan)
BEIJING, Feb. 7 (Xinhua) -- Chinese President Xi Jinping has engaged himself in a flurry of face-to-face high-level meetings with foreign dignitaries visiting Beijing for the opening of the Beijing Olympic Winter Games despite challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Over the weekend, Xi held bilateral meetings with about 20 heads of state as well as government and international organization leaders, and held a welcoming banquet for the foreign guests.
Behind this tight diplomatic schedule, Xi has drawn attention to issues of global concern and highlighted the need for togetherness at a trying time for humanity, shedding light on the path toward a post-pandemic world and a better and shared future.
Among the visiting dignitaries were Russian President Vladimir Putin, Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan, leaders of Central Asian countries who met Xi during a virtual summit days before the Games, and Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic.
Unity, solidarity and togetherness were the most discussed keywords during the meetings.
"We shall promote the spirit of the Olympic Movement and meet the common challenges facing the international community through solidarity," said Xi, adding that the only way for all countries to address the various challenges effectively is to strengthen solidarity and cooperation and work together for a shared future.
The leaders expressed the hope that the international community can take the Beijing Winter Olympics as an opportunity to rise above differences and work together for a shared and better future.
Antonio Guterres, secretary-general of the United Nations, said the world now needs a successful Winter Olympics to send a clear message that people of any country, ethnicity and religion can rise above differences to achieve solidarity and cooperation.
China has led by example in jointly fighting the pandemic. During the meetings, Xi reaffirmed China's commitment to ramping up assistance to other developing countries in pandemic response, including efforts to help Egypt become a vaccine production center in Africa.
In the meeting with Xi, Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan said COVID-19 vaccines provided by China not only saved the Pakistani people, but also saved the country's economy.
Facilitating concrete development is another hot topic of Xi's meetings.
Besides key bilateral projects ranging from energy to digital economy, the Belt and Road cooperation was much discussed.
Major infrastructure projects such as the Hungary-Serbia railway and the China-Kyrgyzstan-Uzbekistan railway got a push. Kyrgyz President Sadyr Zhaparov noted the country is willing to work closely with China to make the China-Kyrgyzstan-Uzbekistan railway a flagship project in the Belt and Road cooperation. Argentina has also signed a Memorandum of Understanding with China on the Belt and Road cooperation.
Many leaders also voiced support to the Global Development Initiative (GDI) Xi proposed last year, which is considered helpful to boost economic recovery and facilitate sustainable development.
Kazakh President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev said Kazakhstan will continue to actively support and participate in cooperation under the Belt and Road Initiative while supporting the GDI put forward by Xi.
The China-Russia joint statement reads that the Russian side confirms its readiness to continue working on the China-proposed GDI, including participation in the activities of the Group of Friends of the GDI under the UN auspices.
When meeting with Guterres, Xi said that the GDI he proposed is highly compatible with the UN 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and is meant to promote a more robust, greener and healthier global development. China stands ready to closely cooperate with the UN to jointly advance the work.
Guterres hailed the GDI as one of great importance in advancing the realization of the UN 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and addressing the inequality and imbalance in global development.
Meeting with Guterres, Xi pointed out that no system should be regarded as the only model to follow, nor is there a single development model that fits all.
As agreed by both China and Russia, two countries that have built a model of international relations in the 21st century, people of all countries have the right to choose forms and methods of implementing democracy that suit their own national conditions.
In a joint statement issued by the two countries on Friday, they called on the international community to respect cultural and civilizational diversity and the rights of people of different countries to self-determination.
Moreover, "mutual respect" became a term repeatedly highlighted during Xi's meetings with guests during the weekend.
"We need to uphold mutual respect, equality, dialogue and consultation, strive to bridge differences and eliminate conflict, and work together for a world of durable peace," Xi said during his toast at Saturday's welcoming banquet.
"The international community should stand closer together," Xi said. ■