WORLD Multilateralism under new circumstances


Multilateralism under new circumstances

Global Times

13:44, November 02, 2021

A handover ceremony for Chinese-donated COVID-19 vaccines is held in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, on October 24.Photo:Xinhhua

A handover ceremony for Chinese-donated COVID-19 vaccines is held in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, on October 24. (Photo: Xinhua)

This year marks the 50th anniversary of the restoration of the People's Republic of China (PRC)'s lawful seat in the UN. With this historic event, the Chinese people, accounting for one fourth of the world's population, were able to return to the UN family. The UN thereby truly became the most representative and authoritative international organization.

A story of fairness and justice

The founding of the UN was a milestone in humanity's pursuit of peace and development. China was the first country to put its signature on the UN Charter. However, the PRC, since its founding, was kept out of the UN for 22 years. On October 25, 1971, the UN General Assembly at its 26th session adopted Resolution 2758 with an overwhelming majority. It decided to restore all its rights to the PRC and to recognize the representative of its government as the only legitimate representative of China to the UN.

Resolution 2758 was based on a draft resolution jointly proposed by Albania, Algeria and 21 other countries. It was endorsed and supported by most countries. When it was adopted, many delegates from Asia, Africa and Latin America expressed their joy with cheers and applause. In the five decades since, China has acted in the same spirit by firmly upholding the legitimate rights and interests of fellow developing countries.

In the five decades since, China has stood for sovereign equality and non-interference in other countries' internal affairs, while opposing power politics and hegemony. It has safeguarded international justice, adhering to equity and impartiality, and opposed geopolitical rivalry and exclusive blocs. The country has also supported the political settlement of hotspot issues in line with the spirit of the UN Charter and stood up to the use of force or unilateral sanctions.

Having participated in more than 30 UN peacekeeping operations, and sending a total of over 50,000 peacekeepers, China has become the largest contributor of peacekeepers among the permanent members of the Security Council. It is also the second largest funding contributor to the UN and UN peacekeeping operations. To date, 24 Chinese military and police officers have given their lives in the line of duty. At this very moment, more than 2,400 Chinese peacekeepers are on duty across the globe. China has also set up a standby force of 8,000 troops and a police squad of 300 for UN peacekeeping missions. They are ready to go anytime when needed to safeguard world peace.

China has been working with developing countries to jointly uphold basic norms governing international relations and international fairness and justice. China was among the first to reach the UN Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). It has met 10 years in advance the poverty eradication target set out in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, reducing the world's poverty-stricken population by over 70 percent. In fostering greater synergy between its own development and that of the world, China's contribution to global growth remained the highest for 15 years running. The Belt and Road Initiative has received support from 141 countries and 32 international organizations. The China International Import Expo, one that enables China to further open up to the world, has been held for three consecutive years. China also takes an active part in South-South cooperation. Under this framework, it has provided around 400 billion yuan ($62.5 billion) of development assistance to 166 countries and international organizations, and has built close to 3,000 turnkey projects. It has sent more than 600,000 aid workers to help over 120 developing countries with their efforts to achieve MDGs. In collaboration with the UN Development Program, it has also set up the International Poverty Reduction Center in China. The center has run targeted training courses for poverty reduction workers from 136 countries and international organizations. It is China's contribution of intellectual and material resources to global efforts against poverty.

Addressing global challenges
On climate change, China has worked actively for the adoption of the Paris Agreement and has remained a firm supporter to it, facilitated solutions to environmental protection and sustainable development. At the General Debate of the 75th Session of the UN General Assembly in September 2020, President Xi Jinping announced that China will strive to peak its carbon dioxide emissions before 2030 and achieve carbon neutrality before 2060. Later at the Climate Ambition Summit, President Xi put forth more steps to scale up China's nationally determined contributions, testifying to China's sense of mission and responsibility.

When the Asian financial crisis broke out in 1997, China's commitment of not letting the renminbi depreciate served its neighboring economies well in navigating the crisis. In the wake of the 2008 financial crisis, its responsible macroeconomic policies were an important contribution to world economic recovery. In recent years in particular, China has absorbed 25 percent of the total exports from the least developed countries. Under the G20 Debt Service Suspension Initiative, China has put off more loan repayments than other countries. All these are concrete steps to narrow the North-South gap.

In the global fight against COVID-19, China launched the largest emergency humanitarian operation since the founding of the PRC, and has been providing vaccines to other developing countries as a global public good to boost global solidarity in fighting COVID-19. China has provided medical supplies to over 150 countries and 13 international organizations. It has provided 1.5 billion doses of Chinese vaccines to other countries and international organizations.

Development is the master key to addressing all problems. Every country has the right to realize its own development through efforts. The collective revitalization of developing countries is the most distinctive feature of our times and an important symbol of the progress of human society as a whole. Any attempt to suppress the development of developing countries by whatever despicable methods is doomed to failure.

Global economic recovery has been uneven. The implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development is confronted with new challenges. As the global cause for development stands at a crossroads, President Xi proposed the Global Development Initiative. This initiative embraces the people-centered core concept. It takes the betterment of people's well-being and realization of their well-rounded development as the starting point and ultimate goal, and endeavors to meet the aspirations of all nations for a better life. The initiative responds to the dynamics and urgent needs of global development, and has identified priority areas including poverty alleviation, food security, COVID-19 and vaccines, financing for development, climate change and green development, industrialization, digital economy, and connectivity. To this end, it has also put forward cooperation proposals and plans to translate development consensus into pragmatic actions so as to inject new impetus to the implementation of the 2030 Agenda, forming synergy with other initiatives including the Belt and Road Initiative, Agenda 2063 of the African Union, and the New Partnership for Africa's Development, pooling together the strengths of multilateral cooperation mechanisms such as the UN, the G20 and BRICS as well as various sub-regional and regional platforms.

This initiative is an important public good and cooperation platform that China provides to the international community. It is open to the whole world and welcomes the participation of all countries.

Constructive and comprehensive

Strongly committed to democracy, the rule of law and equity in international relations, China put forth the Five Principles of Peaceful Coexistence as early as the 1950s, contributing to the formulation and development of the basic norms governing international relations.

The country has joined almost all universal intergovernmental organizations, such as the World Trade Organization, and signed more than 600 international conventions. It has fulfilled its obligations, honored its commitments, stood for greater democracy in international relations, and advocated making economic globalization more open, inclusive, balanced and beneficial for all.

The past 50 years have seen Chinese leaders taking the UN stage many times. From the Three Worlds Theory to the proposal for a new international political and economic order, from building a harmonious world to a community with a shared future for humanity, China has shared its wisdom and solutions for world peace and development at every historical moment.

Since President Xi first proposed the building of a community with a shared future for humanity in 2013, the initiative has been constantly enriched both at the conceptual level and through diplomatic practice. Rising above differences in social systems and development stages, it rejects the zero-sum mentality and geopolitical calculations, while setting the common goal for different countries, nations and civilizations. China will continue to take on an active role in the reform and improvement of the global governance system under this framework.

At the bilateral level, China is forging communities with a shared future with more and more partners. At the regional level, China has reached agreements with relevant parties on building communities with a shared future in its direct surroundings and the Asia-Pacific region, and with Southeast Asian, African, Arab, Latin American and Caribbean countries. At the global level, China's calls for the creation of communities with a shared future in the fields of cyberspace, nuclear security, ocean governance and health all have been warmly received.

In global governance, China has continuously been cultivating a new type of international relations. It deepens comprehensive strategic coordination with Russia to form a bulwark for world peace, security and strategic stability. It works to upgrade its relations with Europe by enhancing mutual trust, increasing consensus and expanding practical cooperation. It encourages a U.S. return to a more sensible China policy, to jointly build a strategic framework for the sound and steady growth of bilateral relations and carve out a new path for countries of different social systems to live in peace.

In its campaign for improved global governance, China has been taking solid steps to advance international and regional cooperation. It works for the early entry into force of the 15-nation Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership agreement, pushes forward the China-Japan-Republic of Korea free trade process and advances the Lancang-Mekong cooperation. It steps up the establishment of China-Africa, Sino-Arab and the China-Latin American and Caribbean communities with a shared future to enhance China's solidarity and friendship with fellow developing countries. It contributes its fair share to the poverty alleviation, debt reduction and disaster mitigation of other developing countries, and supports them in developing the capacities for self-generated progress.

China has been scaling up its strategies of openness and cooperation, committed to fostering a higher-standard open economic system to fully unlock the potential of its vast market and domestic demand. The country, via its own development, adds to global recovery and shares more development opportunities with the world, all the while remaining firmly opposed to protectionism in any form. China joins forces with others to keep the global industrial and supply chains stable and smooth as part of an open world economy. It advances high-quality Belt and Road cooperation and accelerates the development of the Health, Digital and Green Silk Road initiatives to benefit more nations and populations.

China has also participated in the international rule-making in emerging areas. By releasing the Global Initiative on Data Security, it aims to address worldwide concerns over cybersecurity, and join other countries to foster an international cyberspace featuring peace, security, openness and cooperation.

The principal pursuit

The UN is the banner of multilateralism. The very definition of multilateralism entails that global affairs should be handled through extensive discussion and consultation, and international rules should be formulated by all parties involved.

In its quest for multilateralism, China holds that the basic norms governing international relations built around the purposes and principles of the UN Charter should be upheld. The most important aspects are:

First, a commitment to win-win cooperation. What is needed, is dialogue and cooperation on the basis of equality and mutual respect among all countries. No country should expect others to lose. Rather, they must work together to ensure all come out as winners and achieve security and prosperity for all.

Second, the pursuit of justice. Promoting democracy in international relations is central to ensuring international equity. It is essential that all nations share the responsibilities of global governance and work together to create peace and development. The key is to promote law-based international relations, observe universally recognized laws and norms, and honor worldwide agreements adopted by all parties. International rules must be based on international law, and must be signed by all. They are not the patent or privilege of a few. They must be applicable to all countries, and there should be no room for exceptionalism or double standards.

Third, a focus on action. Multilateralism means taking action and finding solutions, rather than concentrating on the rhetoric. Otherwise, it will not stand its ground and will not withstand the test of time. The actions taken must not be short-sighted, but serve the common interests of all, while bearing in mind that each and every country will benefit from what is best for the world. They must further serve long-term needs in addition to immediate ones. No action should be taken for the sake of expediency at the expense of the long-term peace and sustainable development of the world. Major countries, in particular, must lead by example and deliver global public goods.

Fourth, a respect for diversity. Every country has its unique history and culture, and needs to follow a path of development befitting its own realities. This diversity, together with the common values of peace, development, equity, justice, democracy and freedom, will unleash the greater powers of multilateralism. Splitting the world along the ideological line contradicts the essence of multilateralism.

The road ahead

With the international landscape experiencing changes unseen in a century, how can the world avoid division, reject confrontation, maintain solidarity, and advance cooperation? There is only one right answer: upholding the international system with the UN at its core and safeguarding the basic norms governing international relations based on the purposes and principles of the UN Charter. This is because this system is the only system jointly built by all, and advocates the only set of norms universally endorsed by all. Building an international consensus on the UN platform to meet global challenges together is the biggest common ground of all countries.

China will work with all countries to resolve differences through dialogue and negotiation, settle disputes through political ways, advance democracy and the rule of law in international relations, and jointly build a world of lasting peace. It is to work with all countries to uphold the new vision of common, comprehensive, cooperative and sustainable security, combat non-traditional security threats, promote modernization of global governance capacity and system, and jointly build a world of universal security.

China will work with all countries to enhance solidarity and win-win cooperation, provide more global public goods to developing countries, work for a steady post-COVID-19 world economic recovery, speed up the implementation of the 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda, and jointly build a world of shared prosperity.

China will work with all countries to treat each other with respect and as equals, respect countries' own choice of social system and development path in light of national conditions, uphold diversity of the world, advance mutual learning among civilizations, and jointly build an open and inclusive world.

China will work with all countries to uphold the people-centered approach and green development, implement the Paris Agreement on climate change, steadily strengthen global governance on biological diversity, protect future generations, green mountains and lucid waters, and jointly build a community with a shared future between man and nature and a clean and beautiful world.

China will work with all countries to defend the common values of humanity, namely peace, development, fairness, justice, democracy and freedom, continue to advance the building of a new type of international relations featuring mutual respect, fairness and justice and win-win cooperation, and jointly build a community with a shared future for humanity.

China will remain a builder of world peace, a contributor to global development, a defender of international order, and a provider of public goods. Upholding the spirit of extensive consultation, joint contribution and shared benefits and the banner of true multilateralism, China will forge ahead for greater peace and development of humanity.

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