Chinese President Xi Jinping addressed a high-level meeting to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the United Nations via video on Sept. 21, 2020. (by Xinhua)
The most universal, representative, and authoritative intergovernmental organization, the United Nations (UN) has performed a crucial function in maintaining world peace and security, preventing and deterring wars, and promoting economic development, especially the economic growth of developing nations. The UN provides an authoritative framework and mechanism to ease international conflicts, handle international disputes, and resolve regional and global issues of general concern. Since its establishment 75 years ago, the UN has played an irreplaceable role in a train of global issues, such as climate change, sustainable development, human rights, disarmament and non-proliferation, terrorism, humanitarian and health emergencies, and gender equality. The UN has also proven to be a very important arena for fine-tuning relations among major powers, advancing friendships, safeguarding rights and interests, exchanging views for developing countries, and jointly promoting the establishment of a peaceful, stable, just, and rational new international order. The Charter of the UN, the fundamental law of the international organization, constitutes the foundation of contemporary international law and relations.
China’s Support and Contributions
The first country to sign on the UN Charter, China is a founding member state of the UN, and the sole developing nation among the permanent members of the UN Security Council. China has honored its commitment to championing the purposes and principles of the UN Charter, always firmly upholding multilateralism and resolutely supporting the UN to play its vital role. President Xi Jinping, while attending the general debate in 2015, addressed the 70th session of the UN General Assembly, calling on countries to carry forward the purposes and principles of the UN Charter, and build a new type of international relations that feature win-win cooperation, and jointly build a community with a shared future for mankind. President Xi, at the UN Office in Geneva, delivered a keynote speech entitled "Towards a Community of Shared Future for Mankind" in January 2017, noting that China will firmly uphold the international system with the UN at its core, the fundamental norms governing international relations embodied in the purposes and principles of the UN Charter, the authority and stature of the UN, and its core role in international affairs. At the high-level meeting to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the founding of the UN, on September 21, President Xi once again emphasized China’s resolute support towards the UN, solemnly promising, “China will continue to be a true follower of multilateralism.” He indicated that the country will stay actively engaged in reforming and developing the global governance system.
In recent years, China has consistently participated in the activities of the UN, increased capital input, and actively put forward schemes and initiatives, strongly supporting the role of the UN in international affairs and helping maintain its authority. China, in terms of international security, has taken an active part in UN peacekeeping operations. It is the second largest contributor to UN peacekeeping budget and the largest troop contributing country among the permanent members of the UNSC. Over the past 30 years, it has participated in 25 UN peacekeeping operations, and has accumulatively sent more than 40,000 peacekeeping officers and soldiers to faithfully perform peacekeeping missions. China's 8,000-person peacekeeping standby force and 300-person standby peacekeeping police force have been registered with the UN during the past five years, in order to fully implement the commitments made at the 2015 Leader’s Summit on Peace Keeping of the UN. China has become the country with the largest number of UN peacekeeping standby forces and the most complete types of units. The China-UN Peace and Development Fund has carried out more than 80 projects with a total amount of US $67.7 million, providing support for UN peacekeeping, counter-terrorism, energy, agriculture, infrastructure, and education among other fields.
In terms of global development, China has actively backed the UN Alliance for Poverty Eradication and cooperated with other countries to promote international collaboration in poverty reduction. Over the past 40-plus years since its reform and opening-up kicked off, China has seen the basic needs of over a billion people met. Soon the country will lift all its rural poor out of extreme poverty, and bring the building of a moderately prosperous society to a successful completion. All these constitute a significant contribution to the cause of human development. A dream of millennia for the Chinese nation is coming true. China adheres to the new development concept of "innovation, coordination, green, openness, and sharing," and drives the domestic implementation of the UN 2030 Agenda, taking the lead in issuing national plans of implementation and two progress reports on the implementation of the agenda, seeing substantial early results in multiple spheres. China has also taken the initiative to call on countries to place development at the center of the global macro policy framework, and tried to maximize the synergy of the Belt and Road Initiative and the UN 2030 agenda.
Meanwhile, within the framework of South-South cooperation, China has actively assisted other developing countries in implementing the UN 2030 Agenda. Over the past five years, China has initiated 180 poverty alleviation projects, 118 agricultural cooperation projects, 178 trade promotion assistance projects, 103 ecological protection and climate change-related projects, and built 134 hospitals and clinics, and 123 schools and vocational training centers for developing countries. The South-South Cooperation Assistance Fund has implemented over 80 projects in more than 30 developing countries, injecting impetus into global sustainable development. China has contributed US $10 million to the UN Women's programs, becoming the largest developing country donor in the world. China has completed 133 maternal and child health projects and invited more than 30,000 women from developing countries to the country for training, thus making important contributions to the cause of women in the world.
To help the world better cope with the COVID-19 pandemic, China has provided two batches of cash support totaling $50 million to the World Health Organization (WHO). Local governments, enterprises, non-governmental organizations and individuals in China have donated materials to more than 150 countries and regions, and international organizations through various channels. President Xi at the opening of the 73rd World Health Assembly, announced the following measures to boost international cooperation against COVID-19: To provide US$2 billion over two years to help with COVID-19 response and with economic and social development in affected countries, especially developing countries; to work with the UN to set up a global humanitarian response depot and hub in China; to establish a cooperation mechanism for its hospitals to pair up with 30 African hospitals; to make COVID-19 vaccine development and deployment in China a global public good when available; to work with other G20 members to implement the Debt Service Suspension Initiative for the poorest countries. China will honor its commitment to the letter and contribute to the building of a global community of health.
As for China's contribution to the United Nations, the former UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon once commented that China is an important member of the international community and an indispensable partner on the UN agenda. The incumbent UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres remarked that China is a staunch supporter and major participant in the cause of the United Nations, and play a very important role in international cooperation and multilateralism.
China's Plan for UN Reform
The world is undergoing unprecedented transformations in a century with complex and profound changes happening in the international situations. Global threats, like COVID-19, are popping up one after another. With their interests intertwined, the destinies of all countries are closely linked. A strengthened global response is demanded to resolve the global threats and challenges, and global governance needs to be reformed. As the most important platform of global governance, the United Nations also needs to be reformed to better perform the responsibilities entrusted by the UN Charter. It should also adapt to the needs of global governance in terms of guiding concepts, institutional settings, and operation modes and continue to play its indispensable role as the builder of world peace, the contributor to global development, and the maintainer of international order during the post-epidemic era.
At the high-level meeting to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the UN, Chinese President Xi Jinping put forward China’s proposals regarding the UN’s role in the post-COVID era:
First, the UN must stand firm for justice. All countries need to follow the approach of extensive consultation, joint contribution and shared benefits. All need to come together to uphold universal security, share the fruits of development, and jointly decide on the future of the world. It is imperative that the representation and voice of developing countries be increased so that the UN could be more balanced in reflecting the interests and wishes of the majority of countries in the world.
Second, the UN must uphold the rule of law. The purposes and principles of the UN Charter are the fundamental guidelines for handling international relations. They constitute a cornerstone of stable international order and must be unswervingly kept and upheld. Big countries should lead by example in advocating and upholding the international rule of law and in honoring their commitments. There must be no practice of exceptionalism or double standards. Nor should international law be distorted and used as a pretext to undermine other countries’ legitimate rights and interests or world peace and stability.
Third, the UN must promote cooperation. Cold War mentality, ideological lines or zero-sum game are no solution to a country’s own problem, still less an answer to mankind’s common challenges. What we need to do is to replace conflict with dialogue, coercion with consultation and zero-sum with win-win. We need to pursue the common interests of all as we each work to safeguard our own interests. We need to expand the converging interests of all and build a big global family of harmony and cooperation.
Fourth, the UN must focus on real action. To put into practice the principle of multilateralism, we must act, not just talk. The UN should aim at problem solving and move toward tangible outcomes as it advances security, development and human rights in parallel. In particular, as the UN advances its 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, priority should be given to addressing non-traditional security challenges such as public health; the issue of development should be highlighted in the global macro framework; and there should be a greater emphasis on the promotion and protection of the rights to subsistence and development.
Building a Community with a Shared Future for Mankind
The sudden outbreak of COVID-19 alerted the world in a special form that mankind is a community of shared destiny, engendering a deeper understanding among people of the ideological power and value of the concept “a community with a shared future for mankind.” Robert Lawrence Kuhn, chairman of the Kuhn Foundation, repeatedly stressed in an interview with reporters that the rapid spread of the COVID-19 is impressing on people all over the world the deep and practical significance of the concept of a community of common destiny for mankind. Standing at the special historical juncture of the 75th anniversary of the founding of the United Nations, China's concept of building a community with a shared future for mankind is even more appealing. As President Xi Jinping pointed out at the recent UN high-level meeting, the world is standing at a new historical starting point. Let us reaffirm our firm commitment to multilateralism, promote the building of a community with a shared future for mankind, and achieve greater unity and progress under the flag of the United Nations. Looking into the future, China will make greater contributions to the development and reform of the United Nations, advance the development of the global governance system towards a more just and rational direction, contribute more Chinese plans to the world, and jointly promote the building of a community with a shared future for mankind together with other countries.
REN YUANZHE is an associate professor of the Department of Diplomacy, China Foreign Affairs University, and a researcher with the Research Center for Beijing International Exchanges and Foreign Affairs Administration.