On the 40th Anniversary of the Restoration of the Lawful Seat of the People's Republic of China in the United Nations
Keynote Address by Assistant Foreign Minister Wu Hailong at the Fourth Lanting Forum
MFA South Building, 2 September 2011
The theme of this Lanting Forum is China and the United Nations. This is of special significance, because this year marks the 40th anniversary of the restoration of the lawful seat of the People's Republic of China in the United Nations.
You may wonder what the past 40 years has been like for China and the United Nations working together, what has been achieved, what is there to learn, and what expectations China has for the future of the United Nations. Today, I would like to join you in reviewing the history and looking to the future.
On 25 October 1971, the 26th Session of the United Nations General Assembly adopted Resolution 2758 with an overwhelming majority and decided to restore the lawful seat of the People's Republic of China in the United Nations. With this epoch-making event, a new chapter was opened in the relationship between China and the United Nations.
China's return to the United Nations represents the recognition of China's status by parties across the world and marks its integration into the international community. With the return of China, a country with a quarter of the world's population, the United Nations has become more universal and representative, and thus become a truly global organization.
In the subsequent 40 years, China has taken an active part in the UN's work across the board.
In the political and security field, China has been fully involved in the work of the UNGA and the Security Council. It has dedicated itself to peaceful settlement of disputes and conflicts through promoting consultation, dialogue and negotiation and to upholding the authority and effectiveness of the United Nations. As a permanent member of the Security Council, China has played an important and constructive role in dealing with an array of major regional hotspot issues, including the Korean nuclear issue, the Iranian nuclear issue, Libya, Sudan, Afghanistan, Myanmar and Zimbabwe.
By the end of August 2011, China had sent 19,000 military, police and civilian staff to serve in 28 UN peacekeeping missions. Thirteen Chinese peacekeepers gave their lives to the cause of world peace. China is now the fifteenth largest contributor of UN peacekeepers and the largest among the five permanent members of the Security Council. As we speak, more than 2,000 Chinese peacekeepers are honoring their duty in 12 missions around the world. Our excellent men and women with their outstanding performance have won the appreciation and acclaim of the United Nations and local people and contributed enormously to world peace and security.
In the field of economic development, China has been an active supporter of UN's efforts in advancing North-South dialogue, deepening South-South cooperation and promoting development assistance. China has participated in discussions and cooperation on a wide range of issues under the UN framework, such as the establishment of a new international economic order, sustainable development, climate change, humanitarian rescue and relief as well as disaster reduction and preparedness. China has become an indispensable party in resolving all kinds of global issues. While working hard to develop itself, China has provided all kinds of assistance to other developing countries as its ability permits. By the end of 2009, the Chinese government had cancelled 25.6 billion yuan of debts owed by 50 HIPCs and LDCs and offered an accumulated sum of 256.29 billion yuan in aid. In 2009, 45.7% of China's aid for foreign countries went to Africa. And in response to the famine plaguing the Horn of Africa, the Chinese government decides to provide 443.2 million yuan worth of emergency food assistance to the affected countries through the United Nations and bilateral channels.
In human rights and the social field, China has been actively involved in the work of the UNGA, the Human Rights Committee and the Human Rights Council and other multilateral human rights institutions and has promoted in the United Nations an objective, fair and non-selective approach in dealing with human rights issues. It has not only contributed to the UN's efforts in developing international instruments on human rights, opposing colonialism and apartheid and promoting economic, social and cultural rights and the right to development, but also played its due role in promoting constructive international dialogue and cooperation on human rights and upholding common interests of developing countries. So far, China has ratified or acceded to 25 international human rights treaties and established annual dialogue and exchange mechanisms on human rights with 15 countries.
In the past 40 years, China has conducted multi-tiered and diversified cooperation with the United Nations in various social fields, including women, youth, refugees, health, maritime affairs, civil aviation, telecommunications, education, science and culture. China successfully played host to the Fourth World Conference on Women in 1995.
In the field of arms control and disarmament, China has actively participated in the negotiations on multilateral arms control treaties such as the Chemical Weapons Convention and the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty. China has faithfully fulfilled its obligations and made concrete contribution to the international arms control process. Since the coming into force of the Chemical Weapons Convention in 1997, China has received more than 270 inspections from the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons. China has taken an active part in the work of the Security Council, the General Assembly First Committee, the Conference on Disarmament in Geneva and other related arms control organizations and conferences under the UN framework, and worked hard for appropriate international solutions to issues such as nuclear disarmament, non-proliferation, information security and conventional arms control. China has supported the United Nations in playing a still bigger role in arms control through its concrete actions, such as making contributions and donotions to the UN Office of Disarmament Affairs, the UN Regional Center for Peace and Disarmament in Asia-Pacific, and the UN Voluntary Trust Fund for Assistance in Mine Action and holding seminars with some of the institutions.
In the field of treaty and law, China has taken part in the discussions of the General Assembly Sixth Committee in an active and constructive manner, participated in the drafting and formulation of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea and other important international treaties, and committed itself to safeguarding the rights and interests of developing countries as well as the fairness of international law. China has acceded to and earnestly implemented a broad range of international conventions under the UN framework, and actively participated in the work of the UN International Law Commission and other related international law organizations. Currently, China accedes to more than 300 multilateral treaties and has signed over 20,000 bilateral treaties and other instruments of the nature of a treaty.
From these fields we can see clearly that China's participation in UN affairs in the past 40 years shows notable changes in China's relations with the rest of the world. In the past 40 years, China's involvement in UN affairs has also been a vivid example of China's continued integration into the international system as well as China's active participation in economic globalization. China's participation in UN affairs in the past 40 years has not only exerted a deep impact on China's development, but also greatly enriched the ideas and practices of the United Nations and promoted its progress.
If we take a look at China's participation in the United Nations in the past four decades, we can see that China's UN diplomacy has its own unique characteristics.
I. China has always abided by the purposes and principles of the UN Charter and safeguarded international law and norms governing international relations. The UN Charter is the bedrock of contemporary international law. Principles enshrined in the Charter such as sovereign equality, non-interference in each other's internal affairs, peaceful settlement of international disputes and opposition to the use or threat of force have become accepted norms governing international relations. The purposes and principles of the UN Charter serve the historical trend of peace, development and cooperation, the sound development of international relations and the fundamental interests of people of all countries, and therefore must be safeguarded. China, when taking part in UN activities and handling international affairs, has always championed the Charter and acted as required by the Charter. This has won wide recognition and appreciation from UN member states.
II. China has always advocated multilateralism and upheld the United Nations' central role in international affairs. Democratization of international relations and a multi-polar world are an unstoppable historical trend, and a strong United Nations will continue to push forward this trend. Since its inception, the United Nations, as the center of multilateral mechanisms, has always been an important avenue to alleviate international conflicts and the best platform to tackle global challenges and practice multilateralism. China has always stressed the UN's position as the most universal, representative and authoritative inter-governmental organization and its irreplaceable role in international affairs. China has consistently maintained that, in the face of crucial issues such as war and peace, survival and development, as well as fairness and justice, the international community should have cooperation under the UN framework and the UN should play a leading role.
III. China has always viewed itself as a developing country and defended the common interests of developing countries. As a developing country, China has always unswervingly stood by other developing countries. China, as the only developing country among the permanent members of the Security Council, has always upheld justice by speaking up for fellow developing countries. China has been calling on the Security Council to pay closer attention to hotspot issues in Africa and provide more resources to help solve relevant conflicts on the African continent. China, by enhancing its coordination and cooperation with other developing countries via the "Group of 77 plus China" model, defended the common interests of developing countries on many important issues.
IV. China has always adhered to an independent foreign policy of peace, and it has always served as a constructive and responsible big country. China pursues an independent foreign policy of peace. We always decide on our positions on the merits of the issues involved and have stood up for justice and fairness in the United Nations. China always matches its words with its deeds and seeks concrete results. China pursues its own interests only in the context of shared international interests. China has thus been viewed as a big country that upholds principles and honors its commitments. From UN peace keeping missions to the Security Council's mediation of regional hotspot issues, from implementing the UN Millennium Development Goals to providing humanitarian assistance, from promoting human rights and social progress to the development of treaties and laws, China has made its voices heard and its role and contributions felt.
V. China has always been committed to promoting reform and improvement of multilateral institutions to uphold the authority and effectiveness of the United Nations. The United Nations has continuously improved itself since the very first day of its founding. Since China regained its lawful seat in the United Nations, it has consistently called for and promoted the improvement of the work of the United Nations so that the organization can better serve its member states. Under the new circumstances, China calls on the United Nations to keep pace with the times, heed the calls of the people of all countries, and make substantive efforts in its reform. The United Nations should allocate its resources with greater efficiency, strengthen its mechanism of accountability and enhance its efficiency and effectiveness. On major pressing issues of global interest, the United Nations should have a role to play and make a difference. In China's view, as the center of the multilateral system in the world, the United Nations should reflect the positions and opinions of all countries and address issues concerning national interests in a more balanced way.
The world today is in a stage of major development, major transformation and major adjustment. The international situation is undergoing complex and profound changes, and significant adjustments with a far-reaching impact are in the making in the international landscape. New problems and new challenges facing the United Nations are increasing. The situation in West Asia and North Africa remains turbulent, peace and stability in the Middle East is facing severe tests, and global issues like climate change, food security, nuclear security and devastating natural disasters are more salient. Volatility has resurfaced in global financial markets. At the same time, it is only befitting that multilateral mechanisms such as the G20 have emerged to meet the needs of our times. Their standings and roles have caught wide attention. Under the new circumstances, people are asking what kind of role the United Nations should play. In China's view, an era of globalization calls for global cooperation and makes multilateralism a must for all nations. This has brought about unprecedented challenges and opportunities to the United Nations, which is the most universal, representative and authoritative inter-governmental organization. On the whole, there are more opportunities than challenges. China believes when it comes to the future development of the United Nations, efforts should be made in the following areas :
First, it is important to continue efforts to push for peaceful solutions to hot spot issues. The UN Security Council has primary responsibility for the maintenance of international peace and security, and stands at the center of collective security mechanism. The Council should adhere to the purposes and principles of the UN Charter, consistently seek peaceful solutions to regional hotspots and international disputes, and oppose willful use or threat of force. On the situation of West Asia and North Africa, an issue that draws broad international attention, the Security Council should push for an early end to tensions, avoid bloodshed and conflicts, and play a leading role in the related post-war arrangements.
Second, it is important to remain committed to international cooperation on development. Due to the impact of the international financial crisis, the external development environment for developing countries has deteriorated in recent years, and the gains already made on MDGs also stand the risk of being lost. Without equal participation and common development of developing countries, a world of shared prosperity would not be possible. We need to take the promotion of common development as an important approach to address global development imbalance and realize sustainable development. The United Nations should put development high on its agenda. It should improve its mechanisms and functions and step up coordination and cooperation with WTO, World Bank, IMF and other institutions to create an enabling environment and provide strong support for the development of developing countries.
Third, it is important to promote social development and progress of human rights. Today people in many countries are yet to fully enjoy their human rights, as they are constrained and held back by war, poverty and discrimination. The United Nations should take dialogue and cooperation as the theme of its human rights cause. On the basis of consultation and cooperation among all member states, it should work hard to bring about a necessary environment for the full realization of human rights for people of all countries, and foster a world of peace, harmony, inclusiveness and sustainable development. Meanwhile, the United Nations should encourage countries to deepen various forms of cooperation in the social sector and promote dialogues and exchanges between different civilizations. This will make mankind more harmonious and the world more colorful.
Fourth, it is important to uphold the authority and efficacy of international regimes on arms control, disarmament and proliferation prevention. The world as a whole is now basically peaceful and stable, but international security threats have been increasingly diversified, and issues such as proliferation of weapons of mass destruction are still troubling the international community. The United Nations has declared the 2010s as the fourth disarmament decade. It should continue to play a leading role in pushing ahead multilateral processes on arms control, disarmament and proliferation prevention. It should act in a just, fair, comprehensive and balanced way, work for effective disarmament and arms control, actively advance the international nuclear disarmament process, appropriately manage hotspot issues such as the Korean and the Iranian nuclear issues and information security, and maintain global strategic stability.
Fifth, it is important to continue to uphold international judicial justice. The United Nations should continue to move forward negotiations and conclusions of relevant international legal instruments, facilitate implementation of relevant international laws, and provide technical and fiscal support for countries, particularly developing countries, so that they can translate international laws and norms into domestic laws and establish and improve their domestic judicial systems. Judicial activities of UN judicial bodies, especially the International Court of Justice, are important means for peaceful settlement of disputes between states, and should have a bigger role to play. The United Nations should continue to set up ad hoc international criminal tribunals, among other things, to try the most heinous international crimes and prosecute individuals for their criminal liabilities to realize judicial justice.
Sixth, it is important to continue to advance reasonable and necessary reforms. In today's world with more and more complex and diversified global issues, if the United Nations wants to keep its central role in dealing with international affairs and prominent position in global governance mechanisms, it should keep pace with the times, constantly advance reforms in relevant sectors, raise the quality of its services for member states by consolidating institutions, concentrating resources, improving functions, and increasing efficiencies. In particular, the United Nations should pay more attention to the development issue, increase input in and strengthen cooperation on development, and work hard to resolve this issue about which the developing world cares most.
The Chinese say that one has no doubts when he turns 40. Thanks to 40 years of exchanges and cooperation, it is fair to say that China's understanding of the United Nations has never been more comprehensive than today; its involvement in the United Nations has never been deeper; and its contribution to the United Nations has never been greater. China has every confidence in the future of the United Nations and in its cooperation with the organization. I'm convinced that with its own growth and development, China will make new and even greater contribution to the noble cause of the United Nations in safeguarding world peace, promoting common development and advancing international cooperation.