Upholding Multilateralism and Moving in the Right Direction of Human Progress
– Keynote Speech at the International Seminar on the 75th Anniversary of the United Nations
Wang Yi, State Councilor and Foreign Minister of the People’s Republic of China
Beijing, 1 September 2020
As we celebrate the 75th anniversary of the United Nations, it is highly relevant to have in-depth discussions under the theme “Strengthening Multilateralism for a Better Future”. I wish to congratulate you on the successful opening of the seminar and thank everyone for your participation and contribution.
The UN’s founding after the scourge of two world wars was a watershed moment in the contemporary era. The ensuing three quarters of a century has witnessed overall peace and stability, no new world wars and the mitigation of local conflicts. Most nations have come to realize that differences must be settled through dialogue and conflicts resolved through mediation.
The Millennium Development Goals and 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development have re-energized the global development agenda. Billions of people are marching toward modernization and a large number of emerging markets and developing countries have moved into the fast lane of development and progress.
Under the auspices of the UN, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights and the Declaration on the Right to Development were adopted. These milestone international human rights instruments underscored the importance of peace, development, cooperation and fairness for the promotion of human rights and contributed to the steady progress of the global human rights cause.
Looking back at history, you will agree with me that the United Nations deserves respect and a big thumbs-up. That being said, we cannot expect the Organization to be a panacea. It still faces a formidable journey ahead to meet the expectation of we the peoples.
Over the past 75 years, the UN has traveled an extraordinary course and forged ahead despite challenges. For the next 75 years, we call on all nations to make concerted efforts to safeguard multilateralism, stand on the right side of development and progress, and bring the work of the UN to a new level.
First, the central role of the UN should be upheld. As the most representative and authoritative inter-governmental organization, the UN shoulders the aspirations of the world for a better future. It has unique strengths and plays an irreplaceable role in world affairs.
In the face of increasingly complex and serious global challenges, no country can stand aloof or deal with them alone. Multilateralism is the only way forward. The UN should and can play a central role in the international system. The world is fraught with great challenges, but if we rally under the UN flag and pull together, there will be no problem that is too big to solve, and the world will embrace a brighter future.
Second, the purposes and principles of the UN Charter should be observed. The Charter is the linchpin of the UN and the cornerstone of contemporary international law and international relations. Past experience shows that adherence to the Charter brings tranquility while violation of it is a recipe for turbulence.
At the moment, the world is suffering headwinds against globalization and the rise of unilateralism and bullying. The United States, in particular, has walked out of a number of international organizations and agreements, undermined international law and the basic norms of international relations, and attempted to return the world to Cold War confrontation and conflict. This attempt to turn back the clock of history is doomed to fail.
The world is evolving, but the UN Charter is not outdated and must be faithfully observed. It is important to safeguard national sovereignty and territorial integrity and oppose interference in internal affairs. We must seek peaceful settlements to disputes and oppose the threat or use of force. We must abide by international laws and rules, fulfill international obligations and reject unilateralism and bullying.
Third, peace and development should be pursued. Safeguarding world peace and promoting common development is the sacred mission and bounden duty of the UN. We should bring to bear the instrumental role of the UN and its Security Council in ending violence and maintaining peace, reject Cold War mentality and seek political settlement through dialogue and consultation.
The UN should continue to play a lead role in implementing the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and addressing climate change, advance the Decade of Action of the Sustainable Development Goals and the implementation of the Paris Agreement, and reinforce Member States’ efforts to achieve innovative, coordinated, green, open and inclusive development. More support and assistance should be given to developing countries to help them mitigate the impact of COVID-19 and eradicate extreme poverty as early as possible.
Fourth, win-win cooperation should be advocated. We need to take win-win cooperation as a universal principle and seek cooperation that delivers benefits to all. The outdated zero-sum mentality and winner-takes-all approach in state-to-state relations should be abandoned.
Some countries sought to monopolize the right to development. They attempt to rip off the development achievements of other countries, and squeeze the development space of developing countries. These moves which contravene the very spirit embodied by the UN will lead nowhere. The UN should be more democratic, effective and inclusive, where countries, regardless of their size, system and culture, work together and learn from one another as equals. It should not be turned into a wrestling ground between countries, especially between the major ones, in a zero-sum game or confrontation.
Fifth, the vision of building a community with a shared future for mankind should be promoted. At the summit meetings commemorating the 70th anniversary of the UN in 2015, President Xi Jinping expounded on China’s proposition on building a community with a shared future for mankind, which resonated well with other members of the international community.
To forge this community, the UN has an irreplaceable role to play. It should instill the sense that we all live in the same community and therefore should work together in solidarity and look out for one another in tackling risks and challenges. It should promote partnerships at the regional and global levels and envision a common goal of building an open, inclusive, clean and beautiful world that enjoys lasting peace, universal security and common prosperity.
The global pandemic of COVID-19 has compounded the once-in-a-century changes unfolding in our world. It has affected every aspect of our life and reminds us once again that the wellbeing and future of all countries are interconnected.
It is time we make a choice: choose solidarity over division, cooperation over confrontation, and sharing responsibilities over deflecting them to others.
Ultimately, humanity will prevail over the virus. The world may be changed because of the pandemic. Yet, peace and development are still the order of the day; cooperation and mutual benefit will remain the irreversible trend; and history will march forward despite all setbacks.
As the world’s largest developing country and a permanent member of the UN Security Council, China embraces the lofty ideals of the UN by contributing to humanity’s cause of peace and development.
– China has been a promoter of world peace. Since the founding of the People’s Republic, China has never provoked a war or occupied an inch of others’ land.
We have codified our commitment to peaceful development into China’s Constitution. We have never engaged in any invasion, territorial expansion or sought any sphere of influence.
China takes pride and has full confidence in its own development path, but we also respect the development paths of other countries and have no interest in ideological confrontation or exporting our system to others.
We want to learn from all the fine achievements of human civilization and develop friendship and cooperation with all countries on the basis of the Five Principles of Peaceful Co-existence.
China does not provoke trouble, but we will not flinch in the face of provocations. We will defend China’s sovereignty and dignity, uphold China’s legitimate rights and interests, and safeguard international fairness and justice.
– China has been a contributor to global development. Thanks to more than forty years of reform and opening-up, China has met the basic needs of the 1.4 billion Chinese people. By the end of this year, we will have lifted all rural population living under the current poverty line out of poverty and completed the building of a moderately prosperous society. This is a long-cherished dream coming true for the Chinese nation and a major contribution to human development.
China will continue to pursue a win-win strategy of opening-up and share development opportunities with the rest of the world. We will not relent in our pursuit of reform and will open still wider to the rest of the world.
China’s effective COVID-19 response and head start in business reopening presents us with a good opportunity to promote an open economy at a higher level globally and foster a new dual-cycle development architecture at home, with the domestic cycle as the mainstay and with domestic and international development reinforcing each other. As a manufacturing powerhouse and a major market, China will contribute to the recovery of the global economy and bring new development opportunities to the rest of the world.
– China has been a defender of the international order. China is one of the founding nations of the UN and the first country to put its signature on the UN Charter. China is firmly committed to safeguarding the UN-centered global governance system, the basic norms of international relations underpinned by the purposes and principles of the UN Charter, and the authority and stature of the UN. We must firmly uphold the central role of the UN in international affairs. China joined nearly all international treaties and agreements, and has faithfully fulfilled its international obligations and strictly honored its international commitments.
– China has been a provider of public goods. China has and will continue to shoulder international responsibilities commensurate with its capabilities. China has done what it can to help other developing countries pursue independent and sustainable development. The Belt and Road Initiative proposed by President Xi has evolved into the world’s most popular public good and biggest cooperation platform.
China supports the work of the UN. It is now the second largest contributor to the UN’s regular budget and peacekeeping assessment, and the largest contributor of peacekeepers among P5 countries. To promote international cooperation against COVID-19, China has launched the biggest global humanitarian operation in its history. It has provided assistance to over 150 countries and international organizations and ensured stable global production and supply of anti-epidemic materials. COVID-19 vaccine development and deployment in China, when available, will be made a global public good. This will be China’s contribution to ensuring vaccine accessibility and affordability in developing countries. We will honor this commitment with concrete actions.
Five years ago, President Xi announced a host of major initiatives in support of the work of the UN at the summit meetings commemorating the 70th anniversary of its founding. All these initiatives have been delivered on the ground.
China has registered a standby force of 8,000 troops and a police squad of 300 troops for UN peacekeeping missions, and elevated six of its standby contingents to Level Three in the UN Peacekeeping Capability Readiness System. As such, China now has the biggest standby force and most varieties of contingents among all UN member states.
The China-UN Peace and Development Fund has provided a total funding of US$67.7 million to over 80 projects. These projects have facilitated the UN’s efforts in different areas like peacekeeping, counter-terrorism, energy, agriculture, infrastructure and education.
China has assisted other developing countries with 180 poverty reduction projects, 118 agricultural cooperation projects, 178 trade facilitation projects, 103 projects on ecological conservation and climate change, 134 hospitals and clinics and 123 educational and vocational training institutes. The South-South Cooperation Assistance Fund has supported over 80 projects in more than 30 developing countries, injecting impetus for global sustainable development.
China has donated US$10 million to UN Women, making it the largest contributor among developing countries. China has completed 133 health projects for women and children and invited over 30,000 women from developing countries for training programs. By doing so, China has made important contribution to women’s development in the world.
In the new context, China will continue to shoulder its responsibilities and make its contribution as a major country, provide more global public goods and play its part to promote world peace and development. Let us work together to uphold and carry forward multilateralism, renew the commitments of the UN, and strive toward the great goal of building a community with a shared future for mankind.