by H E Wei Hongtian, Chinese Ambassador to Grenada
When the United Nations (UN) was founded in 1945 with China as one of its initiators and the first country to put its signature on the UN Charter, its purposes and principles drew a blueprint and desirable future for global peace and development.
However, against the backdrop of the Cold War, it took the People’s Republic of China (PRC) 22 years to restore its rightful position in the UN. More than 2 decades of waiting was, anyway, worthwhile, as the Chinese people devoted themselves to world peace and common development during that time, earning support from like-minded countries and peoples.
On 25 October 1971, the UN General Assembly at its 26th session adopted Resolution 2758 with an overwhelming majority, restoring all the lawful rights of the PRC and recognising the representatives of its Government as the only legitimate representatives of China to the UN, while dispelling the illegitimate delegates from the Taiwan authority, which ushered in a new era for the cooperation between China and the UN. That was not only a triumph of the Chinese diplomacy, but also of international justice and fairness, and developing countries — on the one hand, the representative and authority were strengthened by the participation of a developing country with a quarter of the world population, on the other hand, developing countries were the major forces that carried the PRC back to the UN. Therefore, China would always value this profound friendship and cast its vote in the UN for the betterment of developing countries — I am honoured to say that less than 3 years after its return to the UN, China voted yes for UN Resolution 352 (1974), which recommended the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) to accept Grenada’s application for UN membership.
2021 marks the 50th anniversary of the PRC’s restoration of all its rights in the UN. Over the last 50 years, China has shouldered on its due responsibility as a permanent member of the UN Security Council and has always been a builder of world peace, contributor to global development, defender of the international order and provider of public goods，untiringly making efforts contributions to the holy cause of the UN and the progress of humankind.
Upholding the international order by practicing true multilateralism. As Chinese President Xi Jinping emphasised, in the world, there is only one international system, i.e. the one with the United Nations at its core; only one international order, i.e. the one underpinned by international law; and only one set of rules, i.e. the basic norms governing international relations underpinned by the purposes and principles of the UN Charter. China believes that international affairs should be addressed through consultation by all and that the future of the world should be decided by all countries together. China firmly opposes unilateralism, protectionism and bullying acts, and firmly rejects pseudo-multilateralism in such disguises as group politics and small circles. China is committed to making the global governance system more just and equitable. Over the past 5 decades, China has joined almost all universal inter-governmental organisations, signed more than 600 international conventions, while dutifully honouring its international obligations and commitments and effectively cooperating with other entities. Moreover, from the 5 principles of peaceful co-existence to a community with a shared future for mankind, China has shared its wisdom in exploring the direction and gateway for the greater progress of humanity.
Promoting world peace by performing concrete actions. China has explored and practiced solutions with distinctive Chinese features to global and regional hotspot issues as well as taking an active part in international arms control and disarmament and addressing non-traditional security threats, during which it endeavored to safeguard the authority and solidarity of the Security Council, actively supported UN’s good offices as mandated. China has become the top contributor of peacekeepers among the permanent members of the UN Security Council as well as the second-largest funding contributor to the UN and UN peacekeeping operations. Up to now, more than 50,000 Chinese peacekeepers have participated in 29 UN peacekeeping operations. When it comes to handling disputes and even conflicts, China has unwaveringly stuck to the UN Charter, spoken up and acted for justice, fairness, sovereign equality, non-interference, and political settlement, and adamantly opposed power politics and hegemonism, geopolitical rivalry, exclusive blocs, and the use of force and unilateral sanctions. However, Chinese people’s fondness for peace should never be interpreted as a proclivity for compromise when the nation’s core interests are grossly challenged.
Contributing to world development by dedicating to the welfare of all humanity.
Poverty alleviation. China has announced its comprehensive victory against extreme poverty earlier this year, hitting the poverty reduction target under the UN 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development 10 years ahead and making itself one of the first countries to reach the UN Millennium Development Goals. By lifting 800 million people out of absolute poverty in 40 plus years, China helped reduce the world’s poverty-stricken population by over 70%. China has also set up the International Poverty Reduction Centre with UNDP as its partner. The Centre has opened tailored training courses for poverty reduction workers from 136 countries and international organisations, one of China’s direct contributions of intellectual and material resources to global efforts against poverty.
Promoting common development. As President Xi said, development is meaningful only when it is for the people’s interest, and can sustain only when it is motivated by the people. It is important to resolve the problem of unbalanced and inadequate development, and make development more balanced, coordinated and inclusive. China earnestly engages in South-South cooperation — over the past decades, China has provided around RMB 400 billion (US$ 57 billion) of development assistance to 166 countries and international organizations, and has built close to 3,000 complete projects and programs of in-kind assistance, over 10,000 projects of technological cooperation and human resources development, and provided more than 400,000 training opportunities. In 2015, China decided to establish a China-UN Peace and Development Fund. To date, China has provided US$ 120 million to the fund and launched 112 cooperation projects, giving support to the UN’s work on peace and development.
Protection of global public health security. China gave a prompt response to the Covid-19 pandemic by launching emergency humanitarian operations and has provided medical supplies to over 150 countries and 14 international organisations thus far. In 2020, China donated US$ 50 million to the World Health Organization (WHO) and offered US$ 50 million to the UN Covid-19 Global Humanitarian Response Plan. It has also vowed to provide another US$ 3 billion in international aid in the next 3 years to support developing countries’ efforts in controlling the pandemic and post-pandemic recovery. As of October 2021, China has provided 1.5 billion doses of Chinese vaccines and raw ingredients to over 100 countries and international organisations, and over 320 billion masks, 3.9 billion protective suits, and 5.6 billion testing kits to the whole world. In late September, President Xi had just declared that in addition to donating US$ 100 million to COVAX, China will donate 100 million doses of vaccines to other developing countries in the course of this year.
Focusing on climate change. Entering a new developing era, China has abandoned the inefficient, eco-unfriendly developing model and started to play a leading role in global environmental and climate governance. China is a staunch supporter of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and the Paris Agreement and implemented them accordingly. Despite arduous work ahead, China still announced that it will strive to peak carbon dioxide emissions before 2030 and achieve carbon neutrality before 2060, a narrower window than most major developed countries. Moreover, President Xi has recently claimed that China will step up support for other developing countries in developing green and low-carbon energy, and will not build new coal-fired power projects abroad, which is another testament to China’s sense of mission and responsibility.
The world today is confronted with the combined influence of profound changes unseen in a century and a devastating pandemic, amid which the trend of multi-polarity and economic globalisation is undergoing significant transformation, while all countries are becoming increasingly intertwined, interdependent, and interconnected. To handle Covid-19, resume economy, and safeguard world security and stability, the UN has made strenuous efforts. To beat global challenges and build a better future for humanity demands concerted international cooperation, which would not be possible without a genuine commitment to and effective practice of multilateralism.
Thereafter, China believes that countries must build consensus and synergy on boosting the function of the UN in the following 3 dimensions:
First, upholding the purposes and principles of the UN Charter. The Charter sets out basic norms for interactions among states and for settling international disputes. Acts in violation of the Charter bring damage to world peace and stability.
Second, defending the authority of the UN in the international system. The UN remains to be the most universal, representative, and authoritative international organisation in the world today. On the flip side, the UN should set common agenda, highlight pressing issues and focus on real actions, and see to it that commitments made by all parties to multilateralism are truly delivered.
Third, keeping to the basic rule of equal-footed consultation at the UN. The UN is not a club for big or rich countries. All countries enjoy sovereign equality, and no country is in a position to dictate international affairs. We should increase the representation and voice of developing countries in the UN to better reflect the shared aspiration of the overwhelming majority of countries.
On 25 October, President Xi attended the commemorative meeting marking the 50th anniversary of the restoration of the PRC’s lawful seat at the UN in Beijing, as he applauded the close tie and sound cooperation between the PRC and the UN over the past 50 years, he also said that China would stay committed to 3 paths — those are the paths of peaceful development, reform and opening-up, and multilateralism. Once again, the world is at a historical crossroads. Despite challenges, turmoil, and headwind, the trend of peace, development, and advancement for humanity is irresistible. No matter how the international landscape evolves, China will unwaveringly safeguard the UN’s core role, participate in UN affairs and promote the purposes and principles of the UN Charter — this is where the right side of history lies. Taking the 50th anniversary as a new starting point, China will, together with the rest of the world, strive to build a community with a shared future for humankind, join hands with all progressive forces, and work tirelessly to forge ahead for greater peace and development of humankind!