Multilateralism, the Way to Respond to Threats and Challenges
Statement by H.E. Mr. Qian Qichen, Former Vice Premier of China At the New Delhi Conference
Ladies and Gentlemen,
I'm delighted to attend this international conference in New Delhi. May I begin by thanking the Institute of Peace and Conflict Studies and Lt. Gen. Satish Nambiar, my colleague from the High-Level Panel on Threats, Challenges and Change, for their gracious invitation.
The main topic we are going to discuss at this conference, namely the developing world's response to threats and challenges, is highly relevant. The developing world, as a whole, is a major force for world peace, security, development and progress. Its members take up a good proportion of the world's land and population. Therefore, it is of vital importance to know what their real concerns are in today's world and to help solve their pressing problems.
Our world is undergoing complicated and profound changes. Peace and development remain the theme of our times, yet they are far from properly addressed. Economic globalisation continues to evolve, but at the cost of a yawning gap between the North and the South. There has been a growing call for multilateral cooperation. However, unilateral actions still have their way in many cases. Given all this, the threats facing developing countries are grave, and the challenges are immense. To sum up, they fall mainly into these categories.
First, traditional security issues such as regional conflicts remain a threat to peace and stability of many developing countries. History has left the developing world with territorial, religious, and ethnic disputes. These, together with foreign meddling, have led to frequent armed conflicts of all kinds. Most of the world's hotspots are concentrated in developing countries. This calls for high vigilance of the international community.
Second, non-traditional security issues, which have gained increasing prominence, are jeopardizing the livelihood of developing countries. For developing countries, economic development is their top priority. However, it is an arduous task. Poor natural conditions and weak economic foundation, which are the common feature throughout the developing world, have crippled their strength to respond to crisis. Thorny issues such as poverty, hunger, diseases, illiteracy, drugs and transnational crimes have only made things even worse.
Third, the persistence of an unfair international economic order is holding back developing countries in their endeavour for comprehensive development. Many of them are being marginalized by the widening gap between the North and the South, deepening digital divide, and more inequitable dividends distribution in the course of economic globalisation
Mankind has traversed a tortuous course of development. It is a process of meeting obstacles, overcoming them and then moving on. People throughout the world want peace and stability and reject war and conflict. They want development and progress, reject poverty and backwardness. Such is the call of the times, a shared aspiration of all peoples and the tide of history. We must assess the situation and seize every opportunity, and do everything we can to meet all the threats and challenges. Here, I would like to share with you some of my observations as follows:
First, we should opt for multilateralism and give full play to the important role of the UN. Our world is a one big family. Naturally, family affairs should be handled by all its members through consultations. The United Nations, as the core of the collective security mechanism and the best venue for multilateral interchanges, should continue to play its important role in international affairs. Facts have proved that no major international issues can be tackled by just one or two countries or a group of countries laying down the law.
On the other hand, we should also keep abreast of the changing world and look for ways to reform the UN and other multilateral organisations to ensure that they can better attend to the needs of their members and stand up to new threats and challenges.
In this regard, we are especially gratified to see multilateral cooperation mechanisms flourishing in Asia. SCO, ARF, 10+3, ASEAN+India, APEC, ACD and SAARC are functioning well. A mutually beneficial, open and cooperative Asia, where countries treat each other as equal and commit themselves to regional consultation, will lend a strong impetus to multilateralism, for which the UN stands.
Second, we should act in accordance with law and honour the UN Charter and the Five Principles of Peaceful Coexistence. There are almost 200 countries in the world. Big or small, rich or poor, strong or weak, they are equal members of the international community, thus entitled to equal participation in international affairs. The UN Charter is a living guide for international relations. Under the current circumstances, purposes and principles, especially the important principles such as respect for sovereignty, non-interference in other countries' internal affairs, settlement of international disputes by peaceful means and strengthening of international cooperation remain valid and authoritative to date, and therefore should continue to be honoured.
I would like to mention in particular that fifty years ago, the Chinese leaders, together with the late Indian Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru and some other Asian leaders, initiated the Five Principles of Peaceful Coexistence. Half a century has passed and these principles have stood the test of time. They are still showing great validity today and have become a treasure to the human society.
Third, we should foster a new security concept gearing to ensuring security of all countries. In this world of great complexity, mutual trust and coordination are the prerequisite for an enduring universal security. No matter how complicated the situation might be, we should always work to enhance mutual trust through dialogue, settle disputes through negotiation and promote development through cooperation. The war in Iraq, among others, is a good reminder to us that wilful abuse of force does not lead to peace and unilateral action does not guarantee security.
Fourth, we should be true to our words and bring the benefits of globalisation to all countries. Globalisation is an inevitable trend which responds to the growth of productivity and advancement of science and technology. However, it should not be a process that benefits some countries at the expense of others. Neither should it be used to impose economic and social system, values and mode of development of one country upon others.
In 2000, the UN Millennium Summit adopted the Millennium Development Goals. Good goals deserve swift and physical implementation, which means that developing countries should depend on their own efforts and the international community should create an enabling environment for them. Developed countries, on their part, should take up their responsibilities by further opening their markets and removing trade barriers. They should also make good their commitments to more financial and technological aid, debts forgiveness and human resources development assistance so that countries all over the world will coexist in prosperity.
Fifth, we should preserve the diversity of the world and promote dialogue among civilisations. We live in a colourful and diverse world. Among the world's different civilisations, one might be longer than another, but never more superior. Both the Yellow and Yangtze River Valleys in China, and the Indus and Ganges River Valleys were once the cradles of human civilisations. All civilisations are created by man. And the contribution to this common wealth of mankind by any nation commands respect from other nations. Therefore, countries and nations should be open and tolerant to each other and strive to coexist in harmony. They should learn from each other in the process of competition and work for common prosperity by seeking common ground and shelving differences. Dialogues among civilisations help advance human society while conflicts among them benefit none.
Terrorism is the common enemy of mankind. The international fight against it will last for quite some time. At present, we have seen new manifestations of terrorist activities as terrorists are shifting their targets from developed to developing countries and from "hard" to "soft targets".
In Asia, there are increasing signs of terrorist activities, which should once again remind us of the non-traditional security threats we are facing. Indeed, we have a lot to do in fighting terrorism. To check and eliminate terrorist activities in all fashions, we need to go on implementing measures aiming to:
1) strengthen international cooperation and give full play to the leading role of the UN and its Security Council,
2) adopt a comprehensive approach by employing political, among others, economic, diplomatic and legal measures to address both the symptoms and the root causes,
3) wipe out the breeding ground for terrorism by putting an end to poverty and inequality in development, and
4) conform to purposes and principles of the UN Charter and other laws and norms governing international relations in anti-terror activities. There are solid evidence and clear targets. It is not right to equate terrorism with specific country, nation or religion, or practise double standards.
If the waves of independence and liberation movements of developing countries are a major feature of the 20th century, then, it is fair to say that the rise of these countries to economic strength and national rejuvenation will be an important trend of the 21st century. It represents an irresistible trend of history. Asia, the largest continent in the world, accounts for nearly 30% of the world's land, 60% of the world's population and a quarter of the global economic weight. Countries of this part of the world have the glorious tradition of overthrowing colonial rule. They have successful examples of settling regional disputes. They have the valuable experience of surmounting financial crisis, SARS and the bird flu. So long as we, the Asian nations, work together and assist each other, we are sure to remove all the obstacles ahead of us and continue to move forward.
Finally, I would like to wish this conference success.