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China and the United Nations: 50 Years of True Multilateralism

Han Zhiqiang Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the People's Republic of China to the Kingdom of Thailand

The year 2021 marks the 50th anniversary of the restoration of the lawful seat of the People’s Republic of China in the United Nations. On 25 October, China solemnly hosted a commemorative conference, during which Chinese President Xi Jinping delivered an important speech and UN Secretary-General António Guterres and other international guests also made speeches. Secretary-General António Guterres said to President Xi: “I thank China for upholding multilateralism, supporting the UN's work, and playing a major part and making significant contributions to promoting world peace and development.”

As a founding member of the United Nations, China was the first to put its signature on the UN Charter. After its founding, the People’s Republic of China was once blocked outside the United Nations, but the Chinese people’s efforts to promote world peace and development never stopped and their endeavors gained greater support from more and more justice-upholding countries. On 25 October 1971, the UN General Assembly adopted at its 26th Session Resolution 2758 with an overwhelming majority to restore all the rights of the People’s Republic of China and to recognize the representatives of the Government the People’s Republic of China as the only legitimate representatives of China to the United Nations. The restoration of New China’s lawful seat in the United Nations marked the Chinese people accounting for a quarter of the world’s population had since re-entered the United Nations arena, with great and far-reaching significance for China and the world.

Over the past 50 years, China has stayed devotedly committed to maintaining the international order. Holding high the banner of multilateralism, we have been firmly upholding the the international system with the United Nations at its core, the international order underpinned by international law, and the United Nations’ central role in international affairs. China has joined almost all universal intergovernmental international organizations, signed more than 600 international conventions, faithfully fulfilled its international obligations, and earnestly fulfilled its international commitments.

Over the past 50 years, China has remained steadfastly dedicated to defending world peace. China has faithfully fulfilled its responsibilities and mission as a permanent member of the UN Security Council and stood actively for the political settlement of disputes through peaceful means. China has sent over 50,000 peacekeepers to UN peacekeeping operations, and is now the second largest financial contributor to both the United Nations and UN peacekeeping operations. China’s constructive participation in the resolution of international and regional hot-spot issues has made important contributions to world peace, development and security.

Over the past 50 years, China has always been devoted to promoting common development. As the largest developing country, China has taken the lead in achieving the UN Millennium Development Goals and achieving the poverty reduction targets set by the UN 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development 10 years ahead of schedule, with its poverty reduction population accounting for more than 70% of the world’s total. At the 76th session of the UN General Assembly this year, President Xi Jinping solemnly put forward the “Global Development Initiative”, calling on the international community to build on 2030 SDGs for stronger, greener and healthier global development to forge a global development community.

Over the past 50 years, China has been actively providing public goods. In the face of the COVID-19 pandemic, we launched the largest global emergency humanitarian action in the history of New China. As of mid-October, we have provided more than 1.5 billion doses of COVID-19 vaccines to the world, making China’s contribution to ensure the vaccine accessibility and affordability of developing countries and to defeat the pandemic at an early date. China actively promotes high-quality Belt and Road cooperation for the common development of all countries through connectivity, which has become the world’s most popular public goods and the largest cooperation platform and so far received positive responses from 140 countries and 32 international organizations.

The current world is witnessing the interwoven implications of profound changes unseen in a century and the once-in-a-century COVID-19 pandemic, difficulty in economic recovery and consistent impacts to the United Nations and the existing international system by unilateralism, bullying acts, and all kinds of “pseudo multilateralism”. At the same time, peace and development remain the themes of the times, and the call of the international community for safeguarding multilateralism, strengthening solidarity and cooperation, and jointly responding to challenges has become ever stronger.

Faced with new circumstances and new challenges and looking into the future, President Xi Jinping put forward in his commemorative conference speech China’s propositions and initiatives on deepening cooperation with the United Nations and practicing true multilateralism:

——We should resolutely uphold the authority and standing of the United Nations, and work together to practice true multilateralism. Countries should uphold the international system with the United Nations at its core, the international order underpinned by international law and the basic norms of international relations based on the purposes and principles of the UN Charter.

——International rules can only be made by the 193 UN Member States together, and not decided by individual countries or blocs of countries. International rules should be observed by the 193 UN Member States, and there is and should be no exception.

——Countries should respect the United Nations, take good care of the United Nations family, refrain from exploiting the Organization, still less abandoning it at one’s will, and make sure that the United Nations plays an even more positive role in advancing humanity’s noble cause of peace and development.

——China will be happy to work with all countries under the principle of extensive consultation, joint contribution and shared benefits to explore new ideas and new models of cooperation and keep enriching the practice of multilateralism under new circumstances.

President Xi Jinping’s important speech has received extensive attention and strong responses from the international community. Standing at a new historical starting point, China is willing to continue to work with all other countries in the world, unite under the banner of the United Nations, unswervingly follow the path of multilateralism, and strive unremittingly for the realization of sustainable and peaceful development of the world and the building of a community with a shared future for mankind!

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