Great re­spon­si­bil­ity

For­mer UN chief Ban Ki­moon sees big­ger global role for Bei­jing

China Daily (USA) - - FRONT PAGE - By PAN MENGQI in Seoul pan­[email protected]­nadaily.com.cn

Ban Ki-moon, for­mer UN sec­re­tarygen­eral, sum­ma­rized China’s 40 years of re­form and open­ing-up by us­ing one of his fa­vorite phrases — “With great success, comes great re­spon­si­bil­ity.”

He added, “It’s hard to de­scribe the phe­nom­e­nal changes and de­vel­op­ment China has made with the re­form and open­ing-up of Chi­nese society and the economy since 1978.”

De­scrib­ing China’s eco­nomic achieve­ments dur­ing the past four decades as “a mir­a­cle”, Ban said that in ad­di­tion to mak­ing its own peo­ple richer, the coun­try’s con­tri­bu­tion to the world has been to set a de­vel­op­ment model for other de­vel­op­ing na­tions.

He noted that in 1978, the year the pol­icy was adopted, China’s GDP ac­counted for just 2 per­cent of the global to­tal, and many peo­ple in the coun­try were liv­ing be­low the poverty line.

How­ever, eco­nomic and so­cial de­vel­op­ment in China has grown in leaps and bounds as a re­sult of the pol­icy.

Ac­cord­ing to the Na­tional Bureau of Sta­tis­tics, China’s GDP rose by 6.9 per­cent to $12.06 tril­lion last year, one-fifth of the global to­tal and sur­pass­ing the United King­dom, Ger­many, and Ja­pan to re­tain the coun­try’s po­si­tion as the world’s sec­ond-largest economy. More­over, the monthly per capita dis­pos­able in­come of China’s ur­ban work­ers rose to $5,245, 104 times higher than in 1978, while ru­ral monthly per capita net in­comes rose to $1,935 from $20.

“One of the great­est achieve­ments of China’s eco­nomic growth is that it has lifted more than 700 mil­lion peo­ple out of ab­so­lute poverty, ac­count­ing for 70 per­cent of global poverty re­duc­tion dur­ing the pe­riod,” Ban said.

Stress­ing the im­por­tance of China’s poverty al­le­vi­a­tion ef­forts, he added that the coun­try has also made a com­mit­ment to ac­cept more re­spon­si­bil­ity within the in­ter­na­tional com­mu­nity.

Nearly two years’ af­ter leav­ing the UN, the 74-year-old still ap­pre­ci­ates China’s con­tin­ued lead­er­ship and mul­ti­lat­eral en­gage­ment within the or­ga­ni­za­tion in sup­port of re­solv­ing re­gional and global chal­lenges.

Ban held of­fice from 2007 to 2016, and dur­ing his ten­ure he was a keen pro­moter of tack­ling climate change and other global chal­lenges.

“Dur­ing my two terms as UN sec­re­tarygen­eral, I am proud to have pri­or­i­tized and ex­panded the im­por­tance of the or­ga­ni­za­tion’s global de­vel­op­ment ef­forts,” he said.

In 2015, the UN and its 193 mem­ber coun­tries passed the 2030 Agenda and its 17 sus­tain­able de­vel­op­ment goals. Ban said the goals of­fer the world a way to con­front the most crit­i­cal is­sues of our time, in­clud­ing poverty re­duc­tion, ed­u­ca­tion, in­equal­ity, climate change, im­prove­ments in pub­lic health, and gen­der equal­ity.

The ini­tia­tive called for “mul­ti­stake­holder part­ner­ships that mo­bi­lize and share knowl­edge, ex­per­tise, tech­nol­ogy and fi­nan­cial re­sources to sup­port the achieve­ment of the sus­tain­able de­vel­op­ment goals in all coun­tries”, Ban said.

He added that in the three years since the goals were adopted, progress re­mains un­even and some sec­tors and re­gions are mov­ing faster than oth­ers. How­ever, he also noted that co­op­er­a­tion be­tween the UN and China has ac­cel­er­ated, and said the coun­try’s cru­cial role in ad­vanc­ing the goals at home and abroad is pro­vid­ing a bet­ter qual­ity of life for the world.

China re­leased its na­tional plan for im­ple­ment­ing the goals in 2016, which Ban said “per­fectly in­cor­po­rated its do­mes­tic de­vel­op­ment plan with an in­ter­na­tional com­mit­ment”.

Within the goals, he said climate change is “one of the most con­cern­ing is­sues”.

One of his ear­li­est ma­jor ini­tia­tives at the UN was the 2007 Climate Change Con­fer­ence, fol­lowed by ex­ten­sive diplo­matic ef­forts that helped put the is­sue at the fore­front of the global agenda.

Ban said he pays a lot of at­ten­tion to climate change be­cause it is al­ter­ing the Earth’s char­ac­ter and cre­at­ing dire risks and in­sta­bil­ity.

“From record-break­ing heat waves and wild­fires, to hur­ri­canes and flood­ing of his­toric in­ten­sity, climate change is no longer a de­bate. It is clearly here right now. The ex­treme weather events of just the last few months alone point to a bleak and dan­ger­ous fu­ture,” he noted.

“This sum­mer, Cal­i­for­nia has been en­gulfed in flames and smoke from his­toric wild­fires. In­tense and pro­longed heat waves claimed dozens of lives in Ja­pan and the Korean Penin­sula. And near Green­land, the Arc­tic’s thick­est sea ice broke up for first time on record. Th­ese events no longer seem like anom­alies; rather, they ap­pear to be the new nor­mal.”

He added that the nec­es­sary steps should be taken to com­bat climate change oth­er­wise th­ese tur­bu­lent shifts will con­tinue to bring dan­ger­ous scorch­ing heat waves to cities and ru­ral ar­eas, which will drive dis­place­ment and se­ri­ously threaten en­tire com­mu­ni­ties and coun­tries.

With this re­al­ity in mind, Ban is happy to see that many coun­tries, in­clud­ing China, are step­ping up col­lec­tive ef­forts to im­ple­ment the Paris climate agree­ment.

Ban re­gards the sign­ing of the agree­ment as one of his most sig­nif­i­cant achieve­ments dur­ing his ten­ure at the UN, and he be­lieves that it of­fers scope to counter the se­ri­ous threats to the planet.

The agree­ment, signed by nearly 200 coun­tries in 2015, set vi­able tar­gets to im­pede ris­ing tem­per­a­tures, con­strict emis­sions of green­house gases and spur climate re­silient de­vel­op­ment and green growth.

“To achieve th­ese goals, we need to keep work­ing to­gether,” Ban said, adding that he is deeply dis­ap­pointed that the United States has with­drawn from the agree­ment, and the move iso­lates the US from ev­ery other coun­try in terms of climate pol­icy.

“It is sci­en­tif­i­cally wrong and eco­nom­i­cally ir­re­spon­si­ble, and it will be on the wrong side of his­tory. I greatly hope that this de­ci­sion is re­con­sid­ered and re­versed,” he said.

How­ever, he be­lieves that there are still many rea­sons for op­ti­mism.

He said China’s grow­ing climate lead­er­ship in th­ese dif­fi­cult times for the planet has the po­ten­tial to pos­i­tively af­fect the Asian re­gion and the world at large. The coun­try’s de­ci­sion to set a dead­line to com­pletely phase out sales of fos­sil-fuel-pow­ered ve­hi­cles is a sterling ex­am­ple in this re­gard, he added.

Ban said he also greatly val­ues China’s con­tri­bu­tion to UN peace­keep­ing pledges, adding that the coun­try’s con­tri­bu­tion of troops for UN mis­sions in com­plex and chal­leng­ing en­vi­ron­ments is “a role model for other coun­tries”.

He listed China’s con­tri­bu­tions to the pro­mo­tion of peace and se­cu­rity in Syria, Afghanistan, Myan­mar, Su­dan and South Su­dan, and en­cour­aged the coun­try to re­main fo­cused on th­ese is­sues.

“This not only shows that China is a peace-lov­ing coun­try, but it is also tak­ing more re­spon­si­bil­ity to bring peace to other places in the world,” he said.

Born in the Repub­lic of Korea in 1944, Ban wit­nessed how the Korean War (195053) de­stroyed build­ings, sep­a­rated fam­i­lies and dam­aged economies.

“I grew up in war, and I saw the UN help my coun­try re­cover and re­build. That ex­pe­ri­ence was a big part of what led me to pur­sue a ca­reer in pub­lic ser­vice,” he said.

Es­tab­lished in 1945, the UN was de­signed to pro­vide an in­ter­na­tional fo­rum for the main­te­nance of global peace and se­cu­rity as the ashes of war dis­persed. Al­though the UN had nu­mer­ous crit­ics at the time, Ban said the or­ga­ni­za­tion of­fered all na­tions and peo­ples an al­ter­na­tive to the bombs, guns and de­struc­tion of World War II.

Diplo­macy, co­op­er­a­tion

“This al­ter­na­tive was based on the guid­ing be­lief that diplo­macy and co­op­er­a­tion of­fered the in­ter­na­tional com­mu­nity a bet­ter way of re­solv­ing con­flicts,” he said. “I cher­ish peace, and be­cause of this I es­pe­cially cher­ish China’s ef­forts to main­tain peace.”

He added that China’s work to bring peace to the Korean Penin­sula has been noted by the peo­ple of the area.

“Never in the his­tory of the ROK and the Demo­cratic Peo­ple’s Repub­lic of Korea have we seen such an ex­cit­ing process of rec­on­cil­i­a­tion be­tween the two coun­tries,” he said.

“China’s ef­forts can­not be ne­glected. It has played a very im­por­tant role by en­gag­ing with the DPRK leader Kim Jong-un three times this year. It’s very im­por­tant that Kim un­der­stands and learns from China’s rapid in­dus­tri­al­iza­tion and de­vel­op­ment through re­form and open­ing-up. I think Py­ongyang could gain a lot by open­ing up and en­gag­ing in the de­nu­cle­ariza­tion process.”

Ban has long been ac­tively in­volved in is­sues re­lat­ing to in­ter-Korean re­la­tions be­cause his ties to the UN date back to 1975, when he worked for the ROK for­eign min­istry’s UN divi­sion.

His work ex­panded over the years, with as­sign­ments that in­cluded serv­ing as chair­man of the prepara­tory com­mis­sion for the Com­pre­hen­sive Nu­clear Test Ban Treaty Or­ga­ni­za­tion and chef de cab­i­net dur­ing the ROK’s pres­i­dency of the UN Gen­eral As­sem­bly in 2001-02.

China’s re­form and open­ing-up had syn­er­gies with the coun­try’s due role and proper in­flu­ence in the UN, Ban said, stress­ing that the thing he most ap­pre­ci­ated was China’s vi­sion of “mu­tual pros­per­ity and co­ex­is­tence”.

“My coun­try, the Repub­lic of Korea, is also ben­e­fit­ing from this Chi­nese phi­los­o­phy,” Ban said, adding that China’s sup­port was in­stru­men­tal in the ROK gain­ing UN mem­ber­ship in 1991.

In April, Ban be­gan work as chair­man of the Boao Fo­rum for Asia. He said his fu­ture ca­reer goal is to work with China and many other coun­tries at the fo­rum to fight more global chal­lenges: “Our world is go­ing through pro­nounced changes, and this is re­sult­ing in el­e­vated un­cer­tain­ties and new risks.”

He said uni­lat­er­al­ism and pro­tec­tion­ism have be­come the main threats to the world, and while China con­tin­u­ously con­trib­utes to global fi­nan­cial and eco­nomic de­vel­op­ment, it can make a greater con­tri­bu­tion.

“China should feel a sense of re­spon­si­bil­ity for global eco­nomic and fi­nan­cial de­vel­op­ment as a whole,” he said, adding that the coun­try’s achieve­ments are the re­sult of mul­ti­lat­eral trade lib­er­al­iza­tion, which has been the ma­jor fac­tor in bring­ing about global pros­per­ity, peace, and sta­bil­ity since the end of WWII.

He said he has seen more moves by China that are aimed at re­sist­ing the anti-glob­al­iza­tion trend and deep­en­ing the coun­try’s in­te­gra­tion with the global mar­ket. As an ex­am­ple, he pointed out that the first China In­ter­na­tional Im­port Expo, held in Shang­hai last month, demon­strated the coun­try’s de­ter­mi­na­tion to ex­pand open­ing-up and work with the in­ter­na­tional com­mu­nity on tough global is­sues.

“The expo was a great oc­ca­sion to stress the im­por­tance of free trade and mar­ket lib­er­al­iza­tion, which should be learned by other coun­tries,” he said.

Ban also high­lighted the Belt and Road Ini­tia­tive, which will not only ben­e­fit peo­ple in par­tic­i­pat­ing coun­tries but also build a com­mu­nity with a shared fu­ture for mankind.

At the Boao Fo­rum for Asia in Hainan prov­ince in April, Pres­i­dent Xi Jin­ping promised the non­stop con­tin­u­a­tion of re­form and open­ing-up and a com­mit­ment to an open economy, which, ac­cord­ing to Ban, “was sig­nif­i­cant for do­mes­tic de­vel­op­ment, as well as that of the in­ter­na­tional com­mu­nity”.

“Be­cause China is not go­ing out on its own, it also sets an ex­am­ple for, and brings ben­e­fits to, other coun­tries,” he said.

CHEN YANGHONG / XIN­HUA

Ban Ki-moon (sec­ond from left), for­mer UN sec­re­tary-gen­eral, vis­its the United Na­tions Sta­bil­i­sa­tion Mission in Haiti and China’s Peace­keep­ing Po­lice Force in Port-au-Prince in 2007.

SHEN HONG / XIN­HUA

From left: Ban (left) shakes hands with Zhang Zhaofeng, the Kenya pro­ject man­ager of CNPC Great­wall Drilling Co, in Nairobi in 2011. ZHAO YINGQUAN / XIN­HUA Chi­nese sculp­tor Wu Weis­han do­nates one of his works to Ban dur­ing the un­veil­ing cer­e­mony of Wu’s ex­hi­bi­tion at the UN Head­quar­ters in New York in 2012.

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