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Uphold multilateralism and embrace a new dawn

Nuku'alofa, Tonga

By H.E. Mr. Cao Xiaolin, Chinese Ambassador to Tonga

The world is undergoing changes unseen in a century. The COVID-19 pandemic is still ravaging across the globe. The world economy is mired in deep recession. Global challenges keep popping up. All these place mankind at a crossroads. Against this backdrop, President Xi Jinping delivered a special address at the World Economic Forum virtual event of the Davos Agenda on 25 January 2021. He brought up China’s propositions to tackle challenges of the times, charted the course for the world at a loss, and demonstrated China’s wisdom and sense of responsibility. I would like to take this opportunity to share the main contents of President Xi’s address with my Tongan friends.

President Xi made insightful observations on the current world situation. He pointed out that there are four major tasks facing people of our times, namely to promote world economic growth, abandon ideological prejudice, close the North-South divide and come together against global challenges. The fundamental way to tackle these tasks is through upholding multilateralism and building a community with a shared future for mankind. In this regard, he made the following four proposals:

First, we should stay committed to openness and inclusiveness instead of closedness and exclusion.

Multilateralism is about having international affairs addressed through consultation and the future of the world decided by everyone working together. We cannot tackle common challenges in a divided world, and confrontation will lead us to a dead end. The right approach is to act on the vision of a community with a shared future for mankind. We should uphold the common values of humanity, i.e. peace, development, equity, justice, democracy and freedom, rise above ideological prejudice, make the mechanisms, principles and policies of our cooperation as open and inclusive as possible, and jointly safeguard world peace and stability.

Second, we should stay committed to international law and international rules instead of seeking one's own supremacy.

International governance should be based on the rules and consensus reached among us, not on the order given by one or the few. We need to be resolute in championing the international rule of law, and steadfast in our resolve to safeguard the international system centered around the United Nations and the international order based on international law. State-to-state relations should be coordinated and regulated through proper institutions and rules. The strong should not bully the weak. Decisions should not be made by simply showing off strong muscles or waving a big fist. Multilateralism should not be used as pretext for acts of unilateralism.

Third, we should stay committed to consultation and cooperation instead of conflict and confrontation.

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 contribute to human progress. Differences in history, culture and social system should not be an excuse for antagonism or confrontation, but rather an incentive for cooperation. We should reject the outdated Cold War and zero-sum game mentality, say no to narrow-minded, selfish beggar-thy-neighbour policies, and stop unilateral practice of keeping advantages in development all to oneself. We should adhere to mutual respect and accommodation, enhance political trust through strategic communication, and ensure equal rights to development are guaranteed for all countries.

Fourth, we should stay committed to keeping up with the times instead of rejecting change.

The 21st century is a time for major development and reform. To uphold multilateralism in the 21st century, we should promote its fine tradition, take on new perspectives and look to the future. We need to stand by the core values and basic principles of multilateralism. We also need to adapt to the changing international landscape and respond to global challenges including COVID-19, economic development, climate change, digital governance and sustainable development. We should reform and improve the global governance system on the basis of extensive consultation and consensus-building in order to unite the whole strength of the international community to build a brighter future for mankind.

President Xi stated in his address that, after decades of strenuous efforts by the Chinese people, China is on course to finish building a moderately prosperous society in all respects. China has made historic gains in ending extreme poverty, and has embarked on a new journey toward fully building a modern socialist country. While entering a new development stage, China will follow a new development philosophy and foster a new development paradigm with domestic circulation as the mainstay and domestic and international circulations reinforcing each other. China will work with all countries to build an open, inclusive, clean and beautiful world that enjoys lasting peace, universal security and common prosperity. To achieve this goal, China will take the following measures:

China will continue to take an active part in international cooperation on COVID-19.

Containing the coronavirus is the most pressing task for the international community. This is because people and their lives must always be put before anything else. It is also what it takes to stabilize and revive the economy. China will continue to share its experience with other countries, stay strongly supportive and actively engage in international cooperation on COVID-19 vaccine,promote their accessibility and affordability in developing countries. We hope these efforts will contribute to an early and complete victory over the coronavirus throughout the world.

China will continue to implement a win-win strategy of opening-up.

Economic globalization meets the need of growing social productivity and is a natural outcome of scientific and technological advancement. It serves no one’s interest to use the pandemic as an excuse to reverse globalization and go for seclusion and decoupling. China will promote institutional opening-up that covers rules, regulations, management and standards. China will foster a business environment that is based on market principles, governed by law and up to international standards, and unleash the potential of the huge China market and enormous domestic demand. China hopes these efforts will bring more cooperation opportunities to other countries and give further impetus to global economic recovery and growth.

China will continue to promote sustainable development.

China believes that when the interests of the entire humanity are at stake, China must step forward, take action, and get the job done. China will fully implement the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, do more on the ecological front by transforming and improving its industrial structure and energy mix at a faster pace. China will also promote a green, low-carbon way of life and production, and make every effort to realize the goal of striving to peak carbon dioxide emissions before 2030 and achieve carbon neutrality before 2060.

China will continue to advance science, technology and innovation.

Science, technology and innovation is a key engine for human progress, a powerful weapon in tackling many global challenges, and the only way for China to foster a new development paradigm and achieve high-quality development. China will invest more in science and technology, enhance intellectual property protection, promote international exchange and cooperation on science and technology with more openness. China will work with other countries to create an open, fair, equitable and non-discriminatory environment for scientific and technological advancement that is beneficial to all and shared by all.

China will continue to promote a new type of international relations.

As a staunch follower of an independent foreign policy of peace, China is working hard to bridge differences through dialogue and resolve disputes through negotiation and to pursue friendly and cooperative relations with other countries on the basis of mutual respect, equality and mutual benefit. As a steadfast member of developing countries, China will further deepen South-South cooperation, and contribute to the endeavor of developing countries to eradicate poverty, ease debt burden, and achieve more growth. China will get more actively engaged in global economic governance and push for an economic globalization that is more open, inclusive, balanced and beneficial to all.

Winter cannot stop the arrival of spring and darkness can never shroud the light of dawn. No country should left behind while tackling the tasks of promoting world economic growth, abandoning ideological prejudice, closing the North-South divide and coming together against global challenges. China stands ready to unite and work with all countries to hold high the banner of multilateralism, improve global governance, build a community with a shared future for mankind, protect our home planet and create a better future for everyone.

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