Let Us Unite and Put True Multilateralism into Practice
Remarks by State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi at the United Nations Security Council High-level Meeting on the Theme “Maintenance of International Peace and Security: Upholding Multilateralism and the United Nations-centered International System”
7 May 2021
Your Excellency President of the General Assembly,
Last September, at the High-level Meeting to Commemorate the 75th Anniversary of the United Nations, President Xi Jinping expounded on the essence of multilateralism and underscored the importance of sticking to multilateralism as the path forward. Leaders of all nations also reiterated, in the declaration on the commemoration of UN’s 75th anniversary, that multilateralism is not an option but a necessity.
The United Nations is the banner of multilateralism. To pursue multilateralism, we must follow the basic norms governing international relations built around the purposes and principles of the UN Charter, uphold the authority and stature of the UN, and ensure its central role in international affairs. That is what it means to practice multilateralism, an intrinsic nature that is absolutely incompatible with unilateralism.
As the world goes through a raging pandemic and profound changes rarely seen in a century, we need to firmly commit to the path of cooperation, mutual benefit and win-win, and to put true multilateralism into practice. In this context, China wishes to propose the following:
We should engage in win-win cooperation, not zero-sum games. The more complex the global issues are, the greater the need for collective response. The more daunting the challenges facing all humanity, the greater the need for solidarity and unity of our heart. 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, countries must work together to ensure all come out as winners and to achieve security and prosperity for all.
We should pursue equity and justice, not bullying or hegemony. Promoting democracy in international relations is central to ensuring international equity and justice. It is essential that all countries share the responsibilities of global governance and work together for peace and development. The key is to promote law-based international relations, observe universally recognized international laws and norms, and honor international agreements adopted by all parties. International rules must be based on international law, and must be written by all. They are not a patent or a privilege of a few. They must be applicable to all countries, and there should be no room for exceptionalism or double standards.
We should focus on action rather than rhetoric. Multilateralism means taking actions and finding solutions. Otherwise, it will not stand its ground and will not sustain. The actions we take must not be short-sighted. We must always act in the common interests of all, and bear in mind that each and every country will benefit from what is best for the world. The actions we take must also serve long-term needs in addition to immediate ones. And no action should be taken for the sake of expediency at the expense of the long-term peace and sustainable development of the whole world. Major countries in particular must lead by example to provide global public goods.
We should respect diversity instead of seeking one’s own supremacy. Every country has its unique history and culture, and needs to take a path of development suited to its own realities. This diversity, together with the common values of peace, development, equity, justice, democracy and freedom, will unleash the great power of multilateralism. On the other hand however, splitting the world along the ideological line conflicts with the spirit of multilateralism and is a regression in history.
The UN is like a mirror and a benchmark to show whether multilateralism works and whether it works well.
The UN was founded with a mission to preserve peace. It is important that the UN continues to focus on this primary responsibility, promote dialogue and consultation, resolve differences, end conflicts through mediation and good offices, and address hotspot issues through political means. Sanctions and other enforcement measures should be used only after all other non-enforcement means are exhausted and for the purpose of seeking political settlement. All unilateral moves that circumvent the Security Council are illegitimate, and must be abandoned.
Elevating development to the same important status as peace is a vital initiative of the UN. What is important for the UN now is to build global consensus more effectively and promote peace and human rights through development. The UN needs to pay more attention to the difficulties facing developing countries, make their voice heard, address their concerns, and protect their rights and interests. Most important, the sustainable development goals must be achieved on time and with high quality by 2030.
Non-traditional security issues have as much impact on humankind as the trauma of wars and conflicts. For the UN, it is important to pursue a new vision of common, comprehensive, cooperative and sustainable security, and lay more emphasis on public health, counter-terrorism, climate change and other non-traditional security threats to eliminate the root causes of crises and cement the foundation for security. The Security Council can play a bigger role within its mandate.
The ongoing pandemic has also amplified the unadaptable side of the global governance system. The UN needs to keep pace with the times. It should improve its efficiency, emergency response capability and transparency of its work through reform, earnestly increase the representation and voice of developing countries, and make the global governance system more just and equitable.
This year marks the 100th anniversary of the founding of the Communist Party of China. We have successfully eradicated extreme poverty and embarked on a new journey toward a modern socialist country in all respects. This year also marks the 50th anniversary of the restoration of the lawful seat of the People’s Republic of China at the UN. These five decades have witnessed China’s active practice of multilateralism, its full participation in and support for the cause of the UN, and its continuous contributions to world peace and development.
To maintain peace, China is always committed to political settlement of hotspot issues. Having participated in more than 30 UN peacekeeping operations, China has become the largest contributor of peacekeepers among the permanent members of the Security Council. To promote development, China is fully implementing the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. We have met the goal of poverty reduction ten years ahead of schedule. We are also advancing high-quality Belt and Road cooperation which will lend impetus to global development. To protect the eco-environment, China has contributed to the conclusion of the Paris Agreement on climate change, and announced its targets for peaking carbon emissions and carbon neutrality. The time span between these two targets of ours is much shorter than that in developed countries. To defeat the pandemic, China launched the largest emergency humanitarian operation since the founding of New China, and has been providing vaccines to other developing countries as a global public good to boost global solidarity in fighting COVID-19.
At the new historic starting point, China will continue to hold high the banner of multilateralism, thoroughly implement the major initiatives announced by President Xi Jinping at the high-level events marking the 75th anniversary of the UN last year, and continue to support the UN-centered multilateral mechanism with concrete actions. China will remain a builder of world peace, a contributor to global development, a defender of international order, and a provider of public goods. We stand ready to work with all parties to bring multilateralism and the UN forward from a new starting point and jointly build a community with a shared future for mankind.