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"To Enhance the Role of the United Nations, in Promotion of Peace and Development"---Statement by Chinese Foreign Minister Li Zhaoxing at the General Debate of the 58th Session of the UN General Assembly
September 24, 2003, United Nations Headquarters, New York

2003/09/24

 

Li Zhaoxing delivering the speech at the General Debate

Mr. President,

Please allow me to express warm congratulations on your assumption of the Presidency of the 58th Session of the UN General Assembly.  I would also like to thank Mr. Jan Kavan for his valuable contribution as the President of the last session of the UN General Assembly.

I also want to take this opportunity to express my heartfelt condolences to Mr. Sergio Vieira de Mello, Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General in Iraq, and other UN staff who died tragically not long ago in Baghdad.

The 21st century is about to complete its third year, with hope and distress coexisting side by side.

Peace and development remain the overriding themes of the times and the shared aspiration of people of all races, colors and nationalities.

The concept of democracy and equality has struck deep roots in the hearts of the people.  Jointly taking on global challenges through stronger coordination and cooperation has become the consensus of the international community.

Countries are increasingly closer in their economic relations.  Advanced means of communications have made sharing information in real time possible.  With their interests closely connected and intertwined, countries are finding themselves more and more like passengers in the same boat.

Regional cooperation has grown substantially in both depth and scope, with cooperation mechanisms taking shape at various levels.  Regional economic integration is forging ahead in many parts of the world.

Yet worrisome aspects of international situation are numerous.

Local wars and conflicts keep flaring up from time to time.  Although the Iraq war is over, peace remains elusive with no end of suffering in sight for the Iraqi people.  With the situation between Israel and Palestine still witnessing ups and downs, the Middle East peace process remains a long uphill journey.  In Africa, wars are still raging in some countries.

Such non-traditional security concerns as terrorism, drug-trafficking, weapons proliferation, spread of diseases and environmental degradation have become more pronounced.  Given modern conditions, they can easily spread within regions or even across the world, making the security situation of human communities even more complicated.

The development of mankind is still confronted with severe challenges.  In the past 30 years, the number of Least Developed Countries has doubled, reaching 50 and accounting for one quarter of the UN membership.  The continued widening gap between the North and South and the aggravated disparity between the rich and poor have become a major factor that breeds new conflicts and wars and undermines regional stability.

At a moment like this, people are inescapably pondering on the same question: in the interest of world pace and common development, what kind of new world order should we establish in the 21st century?

China is of the view that the future well-being of mankind hinges on closer international cooperation, multilateralism and world multi-polarization.

--We should promote democracy in international relations.  Multi-polarization does not mean backpedaling into the age of sphere of influence, nor a replay of the long-gone major power rivalry.  It simply means to bring about a new regime of international relations under which all countries, big or small, rich or poor, strong or weak, are treated as equals, and no country has the right to impose its will on others.

--We should cultivate a new security concept featuring mutual trust, mutual benefit, equality and cooperation.  Security should be maintained through cooperation and disputes resolved peacefully through dialogue.  Frequent use or threat of force should be avoided and building one's own security at the expense of others rejected.

--We should support diversity in the mode of development.  Our world is a place of many colors and styles.  One musical note cannot make a melody or a phonetic alphabet a language.  Human wisdoms have produced so many civilizations, allowing us to follow different paths of development and a variety of values.  It is in such exchanges, emulations and integrations of diverse cultures that human reason and wisdom illuminate brilliantly.

--We should dedicate ourselves to the rise of the developing countries in their large numbers.  The developing countries, which make up three quarters of the world's population, should become a key pillar in a multi-polar world.  Without their extensive participation on the equal footing, there will be no democracy in international relations or a fair and rational world order. Without their economic revitalization, there is no common development of all mankind to speak of.

--We should step up multilateral cooperation.  Multilateral cooperation of various forms should become the principal vehicles in the handling of international affairs.  Countries should join hands in taking on global challenges through globalized cooperation.

In a multi-polar world, countries should respect and consult with each other politically, strive for common development by helping each other economically, prosper together by drawing on each other's strength culturally, and jointly maintain security through mutual trust, thus working hand in hand to realize peace and prosperity of mankind.

Over half a century ago, our forefathers worked gathered to give birth to the United Nations.  The past 58 years saw the organization's notable accomplishments in preserving peace in regions and around the world and promoting human development and progress.  The spirit of the UN Charter, characterized by such words as "to live together in peace with one another as good neighbors" and "to promote social progress and better standards of life in large freedom", has been widely accepted in the international community.

The UN has become the most universal, most representative and most authoritative international organization in the world today.  Such is what history affirms and what reality mandates.

China maintains that, under the current situation, the purposes and principles of the UN Charter should be adhered to and earnestly abided by with a view to realizing democracy and rule of law in international relations and the coexistence and "win-win" of the world's countries.

In handling affairs bearing on regional or international peace, all member states are obligated to maintain the leading role and authority of the UN and its Security Council.  China is in favor of an important UN role in Iraq's post-war arrangements and reconstruction and supports the Iraqi people in resuming the exercise of sovereignty at an early date.

China also supports the UN in conducting necessary reforms to enhance its role and efficacy in light of changing circumstances.

The UN is a microcosm of our world.  The hope of the world rests on a strong UN.  To build a better future for mankind, it is incumbent upon us to first turn the UN into a forum of cooperation instead of a coliseum of recrimination.  No country is populated all by saints and therefore should have no right to throw stones of prejudice around.

To this end, we should forsake all the old baggage of arrogance, estrangement and narrow-mindedness and let harmony, understanding and tolerance sing loudly as the undiminishing themes in this great chamber.  "The ocean is made great by all the rivers it takes in".  Let it be the motto of all members.

Mr. President,

Development is the foundation for world peace and human progress, and we stand for stronger international cooperation and achievement of common development.

The current state of affairs in which the gap between the North and the South has been widening non-stop with some countries of the South languishing in dire poverty must be changed without further delay.  The key lies in establishing a fair and equitable new world economic order in response to the requirement of economic globalization.

An open and fair multilateral trading regime should be established and improved. The principle of mutual understanding and mutual accommodation should be followed to bring about due progress in multilateral trade talks.  Close attention should be given to reforming and improving the international financial system, setting up a financial early-warning mechanism and enhancing the countries' capacity to prevent and deal with financial crises.

Stronger South-South cooperation and North-South exchanges should be promoted.  The developing countries should step up their cooperation and coordination and gradually change their disadvantageous position in the economic globalization process.  In coming December, the Second Ministerial Conference of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation will be held in Addis Ababa, where the two sides will work together to deepen their equality-based and mutually beneficial cooperation and open up a new horizon on South-South cooperation.

The developed countries should also shoulder their bounden duties and responsibilities by giving greater support to the developing countries in the areas of market access, funding, technology transfer, debt relief and terms of trade.

All human communities are an organic whole when it comes to development.  When hundreds of millions of fellow human beings are suffering from hunger and cold, the rich countries neither should, nor can, enjoy their riches for themselves for long.  The striking contrast in wealth is eroding the very dignity that all human beings share.  On the monstrous gap between the North and the South cannot stand the great edifice of future prosperity.

While addressing the development issue, it is necessary to highlight the need for a harmonious development of the economy and society.  At present, mankind's further development is hampered more and more by excessive population growth, environmental degradation, energy depletion, decline and demise of indigenous cultures and other constraints.  Sustainable development can be truly realized only when there is harmony, mutual complementation and mutual promotion between the economy and society and between their development and nature.

In the first half of the year, SARS struck some countries and regions, which once again testifies to the crucial importance of public health to development.  While countries should strengthen their public health systems, the world in general should enhance the capability to deal with major diseases and disasters through an improved globalized contingency response mechanism.  The Chinese Government supports the proposal made by WHO and some countries at the 56th World Health Assembly for the establishment of a "Global Fund Against SARS" and is ready to make a contribution to it.  We call on all countries to support the UN in its relevant activities, including incorporating public health into the UN development program and other action plans and promoting regional and international cooperation in this regard.

Mr. President,

Last fall, the Communist Party of China convened its 16th National Congress, which called for building a well-off society in an all-round way during the first two decades of the 21st century.  In spring this year, a new Chinese Central Government was elected at the 10th National People's Congress, thus a smooth leadership transition was realized.

In the first half of the year, the people of China put up a heroic fight against SARS and attained a resounding victory.  Many friendly countries and personalities in the world, together with the World Health Organization and the other UN agencies, have rendered us valuable support and assistance, for which I wish to express our heartfelt gratitude.

A weathered China has kept its economic growth in high gear.  The first two quarters saw the nation's GDP up by 8.2% over the corresponding period of last year, and foreign trade up by 39%.  China's economic efficiency has improved markedly, and its reforms at all fronts are progressing in an orderly way.

Needless to say, China is a developing country.  It still has a long way to go before all its citizens can live a comfortable, even affluent life.  Development, therefore, remains China's top priority.

China's development requires a peaceful international and surrounding environment.  We will continue to pursue an independent foreign policy of peace and seek to play a constructive role in regional and international affairs.

China will continue to push for friendship and good-neighborliness in the interest of peace and tranquility in the region.  Standing for a nuclear-free Korean Peninsula where peace and stability should be maintained, we initiated and sponsored the three-party Beijing talks and the first round of six-party talks.  China remains committed to solving the nuclear issue on the Korean Peninsula peacefully through dialogue and building a lasting peace there.

China's development needs the world, and a prosperous world also needs China.  The market and cooperation potential unleashed by a rapidly developing China can bring fresh immeasurable opportunities to the regions and the world at large.

We desire peace, stability and development.  We aspire equality, mutual benefit, and a win-win result for all.  Conforming to the tide of history, China has opted for a path of peaceful development, linking its rejuvenation with that of the region, with the interests of the majority countries, and with the lofty cause of peace and development for humanity.  To world prosperity and progress we hereby pledge our continued and greater contribution.  

Thank you, Mr. President.

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