Adhering to Multilateralism and Jointly Creating a Better Future
– Lead Remarks by at the First Plenary Session of the 14th ASEM Foreign Ministers’ Meeting
H.E. Wang Yi, State Councilor and Minister of Foreign Affairs of the People’s Republic of China
Madrid, 16 December 2019
I am delighted to join you at the 14th ASEM Foreign Ministers’ Meeting. Let me first thank our host Spain for its thoughtful arrangements for our meeting.
We live in a world of profound changes unseen in a century. The rise of unilateralism is undercutting international rules and rule of law. The spread of protectionism is weighing down global growth. Rampant power politics is threatening world peace and stability. Accounting for nearly 60 percent of the world’s population and GDP, we as Asian and European countries have, for years, been both beneficiaries and upholders of multilateralism. To adhere to multilateralism has long been a shared commitment and collective action of our leaders.
The theme of today’s meeting, “Together for Effective Multilateralism”, embodies our shared aspiration for greater unity and coordination. I trust that under the stewardship of our Chair, the 53 ASEM members gathered here today will join hands in sending a strong message and rallying powerful energy in support of multilateralism.
China has always been a firm defender and active practitioner of multilateralism. China was the first country to put its signature on the UN Charter, and has since joined almost all inter-governmental international organizations and more than 500 international instruments, bringing our practices fully in line with international rules. China faithfully honors every treaty it has signed and earnestly delivers on every commitment it has made.
We have fulfilled our commitments under the Paris Agreement on climate change three years in advance and met the poverty alleviation targets of the United Nations 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development ten years ahead of schedule. Next year, China will eliminate absolute poverty across the country and complete the building of a society with moderate prosperity in all aspects. Even as dark clouds of unilateralism and protectionism are hanging over the horizon, they will never block the sun as long as countries take concerted actions to practice multilateral in a firm and effective way.
In this connection, I would like to propose the following:
In pursuing multilateralism, we need to aim for promoting peace and development. Multilateralism is the “golden key” to addressing global challenges. No matter what approach it takes, all acts of multilateralism have as their ultimate objective the promotion of world peace and development. Asian and European countries should lead by example in defending multilateralism. We should firmly stand for the international system built around the United Nations and the WTO-centered multilateral trading regime.
We support necessary reforms to the WTO and efforts by parties to resume the functioning of its appellate body. The new round of scientific and technological revolution should provide a new driving force for common development and a new opportunity shared by all countries. We need to encourage innovation cooperation to foster new drivers of growth, and reject technological monopoly, digital hegemony, and the attempt to create technological divide or decoupling of development. As artificial intelligence, 5G, bio-tech and other advanced technologies will shape the development of the global economy, countries are duty-bound to provide a fair, equitable and non-discriminatory environment for foreign businesses to invest, operate and pursue cooperation.
The Climate Change Conference in Madrid is again shining the spotlight on climate change, highlighting the urgency for global cooperation. In 2020, China will host the 15th meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity. We hope the conference will produce ambitious outcomes and make important contributions to the international response to climate change.
In pursuing multilateralism, we need to adhere to international law and universally recognized norms governing international relations. Multilateralism is an important cornerstone of the existing international order. The international order shall not be trampled upon, nor shall international agreements be willfully discarded. We must work together to uphold the purposes and principles of the UN Charter and honor the commitment of upholding the international rule of law.
We are opposed to acts of putting one’s own interests above those of others, arbitrary distortion of and a selective and utilitarian approach to international law, which smack of hegemonism. Bullying tactics like long-arm jurisdiction and unilateral sanctions should be rejected. The phase one trade agreement that has been reached between China and the United States is designed to address the concerns of both sides. It is a result of equal consultations on the basis of mutual respect, serves the common interests of the two peoples, and meets the shared aspiration of the world. It will help boost confidence in the world economy and stability of global trade.
In pursuing multilateralism, we need to live up to the overarching principles of fairness, justice and win-win cooperation. Equality and mutual respect are important tenets to which ASEM holds dear. We must abandon ideological prejudices and the outdated cold-war mentality, respect other countries’ choice of development paths that suit their national conditions, and oppose imposing one’s own values on others. As countries in Asia and Europe aspire for win-win cooperation and shared development, we should enhance the synergy between initiatives such as the Belt and Road Initiative, the Eurasian Economic Union, the EU Strategy on Connecting Europe and Asia, and the Master Plan on ASEAN Connectivity. Next year, China will host the second UN Global Sustainable Transport Conference. We hope that it will further boost and contribute to the connectivity and common development in Asia, Europe and beyond.
All in all, multilateralism is a prevailing trend of world development. It serves the shared interests and well-being of all Asian and European countries and the rest of the international community. China will continue to work with countries in Asia and Europe to advocate multilateralism and build a community with a shared future for mankind. Let us join hands in creating an even brighter future for people across the world.