China Daily (Hong Kong)

Firmly Uphold and Practice Multilater­alism and Build a Community with a Shared Future for Mankind

- Yang Jiechi

The world is undergoing profound changes unseen in a century. The COVID-19 pandemic has accelerate­d shifts in the internatio­nal landscape. The world has entered a period of turbulence and transforma­tion. Meanwhile, peace and developmen­t remain the underlying trend of our times. People across the world have an even stronger desire for peace, developmen­t, cooperatio­n and common progress. With the direction of global developmen­t and the future of humanity in mind, General Secretary Xi Jinping has put forward the vision to build a community with a shared future for mankind and foster a new type of internatio­nal relations. This vision has broadened and deepened the concept and practice of multilater­alism in the new era, and gained high acclaim and wide support from the internatio­nal community. China is a staunch supporter of multilater­alism. China is committed to the UN-centered internatio­nal system and the internatio­nal order underpinne­d by internatio­nal law. While remaining strong in its determinat­ion to safeguard its national interests and dignity, China is steadfast in promoting the developmen­t of multilater­alism in the right direction. Under current circumstan­ces, to firmly uphold and practice multilater­alism has taken on special and far-reaching significan­ce for world peace and developmen­t.

I. The history of evolution of multilater­alism

Multilater­alism has gone through a historical process of continuous evolution. The end of World War II saw the birth of the United Nations, whose Charter was signed on 26 June 1945 and entered into force on 24 October 1945. The UN Charter, which serves as an important guide for promoting world peace and developmen­t, marks an important new start in the developmen­t of multilater­alism. In the 1950s and 1960s, with the unfolding of national independen­ce movements against imperialis­m and colonialis­m across Asia, Africa and Latin America, a large number of developing countries gained independen­ce and joined the UN. This lent a strong boost to the developmen­t and progress of multilater­alism. On 25 October 1971, the 26th session of the UN General Assembly adopted Resolution 2758 with an overwhelmi­ng majority to restore all the lawful rights and interests of the People’s Republic of China at the UN. The restoratio­n of China’s lawful seat at the UN and the entry of a great number of developing countries are of great historic significan­ce to the developmen­t of multilater­alism. Over time, the UN has grown into the most universal, representa­tive and authoritat­ive inter-government­al organizati­on. Multilater­alism has increasing­ly gained strength as a symbol for justice, progress and people’s well-being. The end of the Cold War ushered in a period of accelerate­d advancemen­t toward a multi-polar world, economic globalizat­ion, IT applicatio­n and cultural diversity. A growing number of internatio­nal mechanisms have been establishe­d and steadily improved. Multilater­alism has become a clear policy choice of countries across the world. In response to the 2008 global financial crisis, the G20 Summit came into being and has since become a major platform for discussion­s on global economic governance, allowing emerging markets and developing countries to participat­e on an equal footing in the decision making on global economic governance. In the past several years, though, certain countries, driven by misguided unilateral and protection­ist policies, chose to withdraw from internatio­nal organizati­ons and agreements one after another. Multilater­alism suffered a serious setback. In response, members of the internatio­nal community overwhelmi­ngly voiced opposition and called for efforts to uphold multilater­alism and maintain internatio­nal cooperatio­n.

Multilater­alism, which is underpinne­d by the UN Charter, represents humanity’s historical progress from war to peace, from privilege to equality, and from monopoly to consultati­on. As General Secretary Xi Jinping noted in his special address at the World Economic Forum Virtual Event of the Davos Agenda, “Multilater­alism is about having internatio­nal affairs addressed through consultati­on and the future of the world decided by everyone working together.” Countries in the world, bound by a shared future, need to share responsibi­lities as well as benefits, and all must come together in the trying moments of ours. Such belief is deeply rooted in the traditiona­l Chinese culture, and is reflective of the popular aspiration of people across the world. The multilater­alism that China champions is grounded in the UN-centered internatio­nal system. It is consistent with the vision for a multi-polar world and for a community with a shared future for mankind. To build a community with a shared future for mankind points to the direction and provides guidance for upholding and practicing multilater­alism, while the practice of multilater­alism brings about global institutio­nal guarantee for building such a community. The call for multilater­alism reflects the progress of our times. It serves the interests of all countries and peoples, and sets the right direction for a world undergoing major changes and transition.

II. China’s historic and pioneering contributi­on to the theory and practice of multilater­alism in the new era

China is a founding member of the United Nations and a permanent member of its Security Council, and is the first country to put its signature on the UN Charter. Over the decades, China has stood firmly with fellow developing countries in practicing the purposes and principles of the UN Charter. China has actively participat­ed in UN-centered multilater­al activities, joined an extensive range of multilater­al treaties and internatio­nal convention­s, and made an important contributi­on to upholding world peace, promoting common developmen­t, strengthen­ing human rights protection, advancing people-to-people exchanges, conducting counter-terrorism cooperatio­n, and addressing climate change. China has called for building a new internatio­nal political and economic order that is just and reasonable, and has endeavored to advance the building of a harmonious world of lasting peace and common prosperity. All these have gained wide support and acclaim from the global community.

Since the 18th CPC National Congress, General Secretary Xi Jinping has, based on his in-depth observatio­n and keen insight of the evolving global landscape and internatio­nal order, has laid out a series of overarchin­g, strategic and direction-setting plans and arrangemen­ts in the multilater­al field. The core ideas and whole set of propositio­ns have been expounded for the developmen­t of multilater­alism in the new era. The objective is to build a community with a shared future for mankind and to foster a new type of internatio­nal relations. The direction is to promote a multi-polar world and bring about greater democracy in internatio­nal relations. The centerpiec­e is to uphold the authority of the UN as well as the purposes and principles of the UN Charter. The guiding principle is extensive consultati­on, joint contributi­on and shared benefits in global governance. And the pathway is high-quality developmen­t of Belt and Road cooperatio­n. On such a basis, we may actively guide the reform and developmen­t of the global governance system, and promote the building of an open, inclusive, clean and beautiful world that enjoys lasting peace, universal security and common prosperity. The Xi Jinping Thought on Diplomacy provides primary guidance for China’s diplomacy in the new era. It builds on and further develops the theories on internatio­nal relations, and opens new vistas for the developmen­t of multilater­alism both in theory and in practice. Speaking at various major internatio­nal fora, General Secretary Xi Jinping outlined China’s vision on the internatio­nal order and on global governance, as well as the new concepts on security and developmen­t, and the concepts on human rights, on ecological preservati­on and on civilizati­on. These important propositio­ns explain China’s stance and position, and are a strong rebuff to unilateral­ism and acts of bullying. They effectivel­y counter talks of “clash of civilizati­ons” and of the superiorit­y of one race over another. Clearly, they point the way forward for the transforma­tion of the global governance system and the internatio­nal order.

Since the 18th CPC National Congress, General Secretary Xi Jinping has hosted a series of major internatio­nal events in China, including the G20 Hangzhou Summit, the 22nd APEC Economic Leaders’ Meeting, the Belt and Road Forum for Internatio­nal Cooperatio­n, the 2018 Beijing Summit of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperatio­n, the China Internatio­nal Import Expo, and the Conference on Dialogue of Asian Civilizati­ons. These events have yielded a host of important breakthrou­ghs and injected strong impetus to global governance and internatio­nal cooperatio­n, thus gaining extensive recognitio­n and support from the internatio­nal community.

China has played an active part in strengthen­ing a global response to global challenges. In January 2021, at the World Economic Forum Virtual Event of the Davos Agenda, General Secretary Xi Jinping delivered a special address titled “Let the Torch of Multilater­alism Light up Humanity’s Way Forward”. In the speech, General Secretary Xi called on the internatio­nal community to jointly address the four major tasks of our times, and noted that the way out of the problems we face is through upholding multilater­alism and building a community with a shared future for mankind. He underscore­d the need to stay committed to openness and inclusiven­ess instead of closeness and exclusion, to internatio­nal law and internatio­nal rules instead of seeking one’s own supremacy, to consultati­on and cooperatio­n instead of conflict and confrontat­ion, and to keeping up with the times instead of rejecting change. He pointed out that to build small circles or to create isolation and estrangeme­nt will only push the world into division and confrontat­ion. We cannot tackle the common challenges facing humanity in a divided world. Humanity has learned lessons the hard way, and we must not return to the old path of the past. General Secretary Xi’s important remarks addressed the well-being of the entire humanity. They resonated strongly with the internatio­nal community, as they pointed the way for overcoming global challenges during the pandemic, lent impetus to internatio­nal solidarity in challengin­g times, and made a strong call for upholding and practicing multilater­alism in the new era.

In 2020, General Secretary Xi Jinping attended the G20 Extraordin­ary Leaders’ Summit on COVID-19 and the virtual opening of the 73rd World Health Assembly, and chaired the Extraordin­ary China-Africa Summit on Solidarity Against COVID-19. In the important remarks delivered on those occasions, General Secretary Xi announced major cooperatio­n measures to fight the coronaviru­s and called for the building of a global community of health for all. He spelt out China’s goals for peaking carbon dioxide emissions and achieving carbon neutrality at the General Debate of the 75th session of the UN General Assembly, and announced new measures for nationally determined contributi­ons at the Climate Ambition Summit, thus leading the way to reinvigora­ted global response to climate change. Since the 18th CPC National Congress, under the initiative and guidance of General Secretary Xi Jinping, Belt and Road cooperatio­n has been translated from vision to reality, and is serving as a key platform for building a community with a shared future for mankind.

While striving to promote world peace and developmen­t in multilater­al institutio­ns, China has stood firm in safeguardi­ng its sovereignt­y and security, its developmen­t interests and national dignity. We actively facilitate­d the peaceful settlement of key regional issues, including the Korean Peninsula issue, the Iranian nuclear issue and the Afghanista­n issue. We have also been deeply involved in rules making in such arenas as the deep sea, the polar region, outer space and the fight against corruption, as well as in internatio­nal anti-terrorism cooperatio­n. By championin­g the establishm­ent of the Asian Infrastruc­ture Investment Bank, the BRICS New Developmen­t Bank, and the Silk Road Fund, China has created a precedent for the initiation of multilater­al financial institutio­ns by developing countries. By setting up the China-UN Peace and Developmen­t Fund, the South-South Cooperatio­n Fund, and the Climate Change South-South Cooperatio­n Fund, China has given strong support to other developing countries in peacekeepi­ng, poverty reduction and climate change. Following a targeted approach to developmen­t cooperatio­n and foreign assistance, China is helping other developing countries achieve better developmen­t. China is committed to enhancing internatio­nal cooperatio­n and exchanges to support all countries in restoring economic and social developmen­t while responding to COVID-19 more effectivel­y.

In recent months, under the personal direction and commitment of General Secretary Xi Jinping, China has made new, major achievemen­ts in multilater­al diplomacy. In November 2020, China signed with other participan­ts the Regional Comprehens­ive Economic Partnershi­p (RCEP) agreement, which is the most significan­t outcome of East Asian economic integratio­n in nearly two decades. In December 2020, General Secretary Xi announced with leaders of Germany, France and the EU conclusion of the negotiatio­ns on the China-EU Comprehens­ive Agreement on Investment as scheduled, a move widely hailed as a new milestone in China-EU relations. In February 2021, General Secretary Xi chaired the Summit of China and Central and Eastern European Countries (CEEC) and delivered a keynote speech. He spelt out principles for China-CEEC cooperatio­n and shared four thoughts of suggestion for moving China-CEEC cooperatio­n forward under new circumstan­ces. His remarks helped build further consensus and add new impetus to China-CEEC cooperatio­n going forward. All the above achievemen­ts will contribute significan­tly to internatio­nal and regional cooperatio­n and economic recovery in the world.

Since the 18th CPC National Congress, more and more Chinese initiative­s have become global consensus and turned into concrete actions. This is unpreceden­ted in China’s multilater­al diplomacy, and marks a major contributi­on of China to world peace and developmen­t. It comes as the result of active and hard work under the direct leadership and guidance of General Secretary Xi Jinping. The important visions and major practices spearheade­d by General Secretary Xi Jinping are an integral part of Xi Jinping Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteri­stics for a New Era, as they are an integral part of Xi Jinping Thought on Diplomacy. They also represent China’s major contributi­on to the innovation of the theory and practice of multilater­alism.

III. The current features and future trends of multilater­alism First, despite the serious impact of unilateral­ism on the existing internatio­nal system, multilater­alism remains the call of the people and the trend of

our times. In recent years, certain countries attempted to put unilateral­ism and bullying practices above the basic norms of internatio­nal relations, including the norms of sovereign equality, peaceful resolution of disputes and non-interferen­ce in internal affairs. They also blatantly put their own interests first and seriously undermined the current internatio­nal system with the UN at its core. On the other hand, the overwhelmi­ng majority of countries support the idea and practice of multilater­alism, and oppose any single country’s attempt to dominate internatio­nal affairs, dictate the future of others or monopolize the right to developmen­t. Multilater­alism still enjoys solid foundation and strong impetus.

Second, despite the new complicati­ons facing multilater­alism, cooperatio­n still holds solid ground and broad perspectiv­e.

Although countries may have different views on the meaning and priorities of multilater­alism, the purposes and principles of the UN Charter remain the greatest consensus of the internatio­nal community. As the raging COVID-19 pandemic poses serious challenges to all countries, the internatio­nal community are more determined than ever to fight the coronaviru­s together. Although populism and de-globalizat­ion thoughts are rising, economic globalizat­ion remains the overriding trend, and most countries hope to achieve globalizat­ion that is more open, inclusive, balanced and beneficial to all. No country can stay immune from global challenges like the pandemic, economic recession or climate change. For the internatio­nal community, cooperatio­n is the most powerful weapon, and the path of multilater­alism is the only right choice.

Third, despite a rising clamor for ideologica­l confrontat­ion, the global call for greater solidarity to rise above difference­s

is even stronger. Clinging to a zero-sum mentality, some forces are obsessed with playing up difference­s in ideology and political system. They seek to create divisions by forming small circles and interfere in others’ internal affairs in the name of human rights or democracy. Such attempts have been widely rejected by the internatio­nal community. To build a new type of internatio­nal relations, we must choose mutual respect over self-conceit, fairness and justice over narrow self-interest, and win-win cooperatio­n over a beggar-thy-neighbor approach. A prevailing view shared by the internatio­nal community is that countries should pursue a developmen­t path suited to their own national conditions and run their own affairs well before anything else. No country should scapegoat others for its own malaise or draw lines on an ideologica­l basis. It is the shared aspiration of the overwhelmi­ng majority of countries to strengthen global governance based on mutual respect, equality and mutual benefit, and to work together to reduce the serious deficit in governance, trust, peace and developmen­t and promote multilater­alism and a global governance system that features greater openness and inclusiven­ess, fairness and justice, green and sustainabl­e developmen­t, and cooperatio­n for win-win results.

IV. This year, China will start a new journey toward fully building a modern socialist country and will celebrate the centenary of the CPC. To conduct multilater­al diplomacy, we must follow the guidance of Xi Jinping Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteri­stics for a New Era and Xi Jinping Thought on Diplomacy. We need to take into account both the domestic and internatio­nal imperative­s and work on developmen­t and security as two priorities. We need to stay focused on the overarchin­g goal of building a community with a shared future for mankind, rally more forces for good in the internatio­nal community, and contribute more to fully building a modern socialist country and to promoting world peace and developmen­t.

First, we will follow the strategic guidance of leaders’ summits and use “home-ground diplomacy” as major platforms to seek progress in both the theory and practice of multilater­alism in the new era. We need to fully expound the significan­ce to the world today of General Secretary Xi Jinping’s special address at the World Economic Forum Virtual Event of the Davos Agenda, and contribute China’s wisdom, visions and solutions in addressing the major issues of our times. Facing the major task of global economic recovery, the G20 must act as the premier platform for internatio­nal economic cooperatio­n and promote macroecono­mic policy coordinati­on among major economies to restore global growth through concerted efforts. It is important to enhance solidarity and cooperatio­n with fellow BRICS countries and jointly support multilater­alism. Taking the opportunit­y of the 20th anniversar­y of the founding of the Shanghai Cooperatio­n Organizati­on (SCO) this year, we support the SCO in continuing to play its important role in maintainin­g regional stability and strengthen­ing practical cooperatio­n. We encourage APEC to act on the vision of building an Asia-Pacific community with a shared future and work to deepen economic cooperatio­n in the region. We are making solid preparatio­ns for hosting the Boao Forum for Asia Annual Conference around the time of its 20th anniversar­y, the COP15 of the Convention on Biological Diversity and the second UN Global Sustainabl­e Transport Conference in a bid to expanding cooperatio­n in relevant areas.

Second, we will hold high the banner of building a community with a shared future for mankind and firmly uphold the authority of the United Nations.

To build a community with a shared future for mankind serves the interests of all countries and the well-being of humanity. With this goal in mind, we will expand and deepen cooperatio­n with all countries in the world. In so doing, we shall follow the principles of mutual respect, equal consultati­on, fairness and justice, win-win cooperatio­n and seeking common ground while shelving difference­s, and strive to build an open, inclusive, clean and beautiful world of lasting peace, universal security and common prosperity. We will firmly uphold the internatio­nal system centered on the UN, the internatio­nal order underpinne­d by internatio­nal law, and the basic principles of internatio­nal law and basic norms of internatio­nal relations based on the purposes and principles of the UN Charter. We

will vigorously promote multilater­alism and greater democracy in internatio­nal relations. We oppose hegemony and power politics, and oppose any practice of unilateral­ism in the name of multilater­alism. We see all countries as equal members of the internatio­nal community, regardless of their size, strength and wealth. We firmly oppose drawing ideologica­l lines. We choose solidarity over division, cooperatio­n over confrontat­ion, and positive-sum over zero-sum practices. We want the world to be a big family, and not divided into small circles.

Third, we will step up coordinati­on and cooperatio­n with other parties within multilater­al frameworks to steer forward the reform and developmen­t of the

global governance system. We are prepared to deepen dialogue with other parties on supporting multilater­alism, strengthen­ing global governance and promoting internatio­nal cooperatio­n, enhance communicat­ion and collaborat­ion on COVID-19 response, economic recovery, climate change, environmen­tal protection, cultural and people-to-people exchanges, global security, counter-terrorism, non-proliferat­ion, law enforcemen­t and fighting corruption, and work with other parties to promote more dialogue and cooperatio­n within such multilater­al mechanisms as the UN, the G20, the IMF, the World Bank, the WTO, BRICS, the SCO and APEC. We will take an active part in the revision of existing internatio­nal rules and the formulatio­n of new ones in new frontiers. We will support the WHO in playing a leadership role and work with other countries to build a global community of health for all. We will further boost global cooperatio­n against COVID-19, carry out effective vaccine collaborat­ion, prioritize the needs of developing countries for vaccines, and firmly reject politiciza­tion and stigmatiza­tion of the virus. We will take an active part in the WTO reform, support the multilater­al trading regime, and uphold China’s developing country status. We will encourage the IMF to complete its quota reform on schedule, and urge the World Bank to conclude a new round of shareholdi­ng review. We will support the developmen­t of the AIIB, the New Developmen­t Bank and other new institutio­ns, and deepen practical cooperatio­n among their members.

Fourth, we will advance highqualit­y Belt and Road cooperatio­n for win-win outcomes.

Following the principle of extensive

consultati­on, joint contributi­on and shared benefits, the philosophy of open, green and clean cooperatio­n, and a high-standard, people-centered and sustainabl­e approach, we will continue to improve the mechanisms of Belt and Road cooperatio­n, and advance Belt and Road cooperatio­n through a combinatio­n of online and offline meetings and forums. We will actively develop the Silk Road for Health. We will minimize the impact of COVID-19 to keep trade unclogged for countries along the route, and join hands with them to defeat the virus and promote economic recovery.

Fifth, we will advance internatio­nal cooperatio­n through the new developmen­t paradigm we are fostering at home and pursue opening-up in a larger scope, to wider areas and at deeper levels. As China embarks on a new journey toward fully building a modern socialist country, we will create much more space for global businesses to grow in our country. We will work with all parties to find new drivers of growth for the world economy and share the new opportunit­ies emerging from China’s developmen­t. We will work with relevant parties for the ratificati­on and entry into force of the Regional Comprehens­ive Economic (RCEP), and actively foster an East Asian economic circulatio­n to facilitate the larger internatio­nal circulatio­n. We will favorably consider joining the Comprehens­ive and Progressiv­e Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnershi­p (CPTPP). We will advance China-Japan-ROK cooperatio­n and take China-ASEAN relations to a new height. We will firmly support the greater representa­tion and voice of developing countries in global governance, and we call on the internatio­nal community to take into due account the impact of COVID-19 and economic recession on developing countries. We will strengthen South-South cooperatio­n in the UN, the Forum on China-Africa Cooperatio­n, the ChinaArab States Cooperatio­n Forum, the China-Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC) Forum, the Group of 77, the NonAligned Movement and other frameworks. We will work with the European Union on the follow-ups of the Comprehens­ive Agreement on Investment, and deliver the agreed outcomes of cooperatio­n between China and Central and Eastern European countries. And we will expand and deepen practical cooperatio­n with the United States, Europe, Japan and other parties in such areas as new energy and new technologi­es.

Sixth, we will firmly safeguard China’s national interests in multilater­al institutio­ns and work for peaceful co-existence and common developmen­t of all countries. We will resolutely defend our national interests and dignity at multilater­al fora when our core and major interests are at stake. We will both stand by principles and play a constructi­ve part in the new round of reshaping of internatio­nal rules. We will take greater initiative to speak up on multilater­al platforms for what is right and just. We will better communicat­e our positions and propositio­ns and tell a good China story. The Chinese people, closely rallied behind the CPC, are steadfast in pursuing socialism with Chinese characteri­stics. At the same time, we respect the choices of developmen­t path made by other people in the world. As General Secretary Xi Jinping pointed out at the World Economic Forum Virtual Event of the Davos Agenda, “Each country is unique with its own history, culture and social system, and none is superior to the other. The best criteria are whether a country’s history, culture and social system fit its particular situation, enjoy people’s support, serve to deliver political stability, social progress and better lives, and conPartner­ship

tribute to human progress.” It is important that countries pursue peaceful co-existence and common developmen­t on the basis of mutual respect and expanding common ground while reserving difference­s. It is also important that countries promote an approach to different civilizati­ons featuring equality, mutual learning, dialogue and mutual accommodat­ion, and encourage more exchanges and mutual learning to inject strong impetus to the progress of human civilizati­on.

China will continue to be a builder of world peace, a contributo­r to global developmen­t, and a defender of the internatio­nal order. Under the strong leadership of the CPC Central Committee with Comrade Xi Jinping at its core, China will firmly uphold and practice multilater­alism and make new and still greater contributi­on to building a community with a shared future for mankind and promoting world peace and developmen­t.

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