Upholding multilateralism creates a brighter future

By CONG Peiwu, Chinese Ambassador to Canada

Ottawa Life Magazine has been publishing a Canada-China Series since 2013. The series focuses on bi-lateral interests, business affairs, people-to-people relations, Chinese culture and the Chinese diaspora in Canada. Since 2018 there has been tension in the Canada Chinese political relationship. Ottawa Life Magazine has continued and will continue to publish relevant information related to the bi-lateral relationship, including stories, columns and editorial features that present issues from the Chinese perspective, as well as from the Canadian government and other Canadian stakeholder points of view.

Since my arrival in Canada one year ago, I have exchanged views on international issues with Canadian friends on many occasions. And “Multilateralism” is a high-frequency word I’ve heard. I could feel Canadians’ support for multilateralism.

The United Nations, the most universal, representative, and authoritative international organization in the world, marks its 75th anniversary this year. Leaders of more than 100 countries attended the 75th UN General Assembly session virtually. In this turbulent and changing world compounded by the COVID-19 pandemic, this year’s UN General Assembly is of special significance, and it has also attracted worldwide attention. People are looking forward to finding answers to two important questions at this Assembly, namely, where will the world go in the post-COVID-19 era? Where will the United Nations go? Chinese President Xi Jinping delivered a series of important speeches in recent days and proposed China’s approach and action, which was warmly received and echoed by the international community.

Where will the world go in the post-COVID-19 era? President Xi Jinping points out that peace and development remain the underlying trend of the times, and people everywhere crave even more strongly for peace, development and win-win cooperation. The COVID-19 reminds us of four important facts. Firstly, we are living in an interconnected global village with a common stake. All countries are closely connected and we share a common future.  To pursue a beggar-thy-neighbor policy or just watch from a safe distance when others are in danger will eventually land one in the same trouble faced by others. Secondly, economic globalization is an indisputable reality and a historical trend. The world will never return to isolation, and no one can sever the ties between countries. Thirdly, humankind should launch a green revolution and move faster to create a green way of development and life, preserve the environment and make Mother Earth a better place for all. Fourthly, the global governance system calls for reform and improvement. All countries should stay true to multilateralism and safeguard the international system with the UN at its core.

Where will the United Nations go? President Xi Jinping gives four suggestions. Firstly, the UN must stand firm for justice, all countries must insist on mutual respect and equality among all countries, big or small, which represents the progress of our times and is the foremost principle of the UN Charter. Secondly, the UN must uphold the rule of law. The international community must unswervingly keep and uphold the purposes and principles of the UN Charter as they are the fundamental guidelines for handling international relations and constitute a cornerstone of stable international order. Thirdly, the UN must promote cooperation. All countries need 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. Fourthly, the UN must focus on real action. The UN should aim at problem-solving and move toward tangible outcomes as it advances security, development and human rights in parallel. 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.

The world is now at the moment of greatest need for solidarity, but a certain country is still carrying on unilateralism, trade protectionism and bullying practices, attempting to create a so-called “new Cold War”, which will plunge the world into chaos and division again. China will firmly stand by the side of multilateralism, by the right side of history, and we will take concrete actions to safeguard multilateralism and promote a community with a shared future for mankind. As President Xi Jinping announced in the General Debate of the 75th Session of the United Nations General Assembly, several COVID-19 vaccines developed by China are in Phase III clinical trials. When their development is completed and they are available for use, these vaccines will be made a global public good, and they will be provided to other developing countries on a priority basis. China will honor its commitment of providing US$2 billion of international assistance over two years, further international cooperation in such fields as agriculture, poverty reduction, education, women and children, and climate change, and support other countries in restoring economic and social development. China will provide another US$50 million to the UN COVID-19 Global Humanitarian Response Plan. China will provide US$50 million to the China-FAO South-South Cooperation Trust Fund (Phase III), and so on. We believe these actions will instill strength and confidence in global economic recovery and the cooperation of fighting against COVID-19.

Seventy-five years ago, the representatives of 50 countries, include China and Canada solemnly put their signature on the UN Charter, ushering in a new era of peace and development. Today, 75 years later, we must continue to keep this solemn commitment, to firmly uphold the UN-centered international system, firmly uphold the international order underpinned by international law, and firmly defend the UN’s central role in international affairs. China and Canada have common or similar positions in many fields such as climate change, environment protection, women's rights protection, international health cooperation, and peacekeeping. We should strengthen communication and coordination in a multilateral context to cope with increasingly severe global challenges. The future depends on our current actions. Let’s act together to safeguard multilateralism and create a better future.

Photo: Mat Reding, Unsplash