Foreign Minister Tang Jiaxuan at the 54th Session of the UN General Assembly
On 22 September 1999, Foreign Minister Tang Jiaxuan of China addressed the General Assembly of the United Nations in a general debate of the 54th session. He mainly expounded the Chinese position on the establishment of a fair and reasonable new international political and economic order, stressing that this was necessitated by the maintenance of world peace and development and represented the common aspiration of the international community.
Minister Tang told the Assembly that since the end of the Cold War, the world had been moving towards multi-polarity and the overall international situation towards relaxation. To preserve peace, seek stability and promote development had become the common aspiration and appeal of the people of all countries. However, the harsh reality suggested that the world was far from being tranquil. The Cold War mentality still lingered on. Hegemonism and power politics had new manifestions. Military blocs were being expanded and intensified. Military interventionist tendency asserted itself more aggressively. Regional conflicts and disputes triggered by ethnic, religious and territorial and other problems kept cropping up. Friction between the North and the South became more acute with the gap wealth between them widening further. World peace was far from being ensured and development faced even greater challenges.
He pointed out that hegemonism and power politics were the main root cause for the turbulent situation in the world today. The outbreak of the war in Kosovo gave people a profound warning. A regional military organization, in the name of "humanity" and "human rights", bypassed the United Nations and took massive military actions against a sovereign state. It created a bad precedent in international relations. This constituted a violation of the UN Charter and the universally recognized norms guiding international relations. This weakened the leading role of the United Nations in safeguarding world peace and security and inflicted serious damage on the authority of the UN Security Council.
He went on to say that the world was undergoing significant and profound changes. It was a pressing task of all governments and peoples to establish a just and rational new international order. And the new order should be based on the Five Principles of Peaceful Co-existence, the purposes and principles of the UN Charter and other universally recognized norms governing international relations.
He highlighted five points in this regard: sovereign equality and non-interference in each other's internal affairs; pacific settlement of international disputes; a stronger role of the United Nations and maintenance of the authority of the UN Security Council; a new security concept and international security; and the reform of the international economic system and promotion of common development of all countries.
While commenting on the assertions such as "human rights overriding sovereignty" and "humanitarian intervention", he said that the issue of human rights, in essence, was an internal affair of a country and should be addressed mainly by the independent effort of the government of the country concerned. The world was a diverse one. Each country should have the right to choose on its own a social system, development road and values that were suitable to its national conditions. The history of China and other developing countries showed that sovereignty of a country was the precondition and foundation on which the people of a given country enjoyed human rights. After the Cold War, major changes had taken place in the international situation. But the principles of respecting state sovereignty and refraining from interfering in the internal affairs of other countries were by no means out-of-date. The Kosovo crisis proved that the so-called "humanitarian intervention" in a sovereign state without the authorization of the United Nations and without consent of the country concerned had caused greater humanitarian disaster, instead of solving the problem.
He pointed out that pacific settlement of international disputes had become a basic principle of contemporary international law. And pacific settlement of international disputes was predicated on the non-use and non-threat of force in international relations. China believed that to handle state-to-state relations by"hot war", "cold war", "power politics" or "bloc politics"mentality or modality would get nowhere. All international disputes or regional conflicts should be resolved justly and fairly through peaceful negotiations and consultations on an equal footing, rather than by frequent use or threat of force on the strength of one's military superiority.
Minister Tang believed that the role of the United Nations was indispensable to genuine peace and development and establishment of a just and rational new international order. To strengthen the UN role, efforts should firstly be made to maintain the sanctity of the purposes and principles of the UN Charter. And the authority of the UN Security Council should also be safeguarded and all its members should be ensured their right to participation in international affairs as equals. In spite of the great changes in the international situation, the purposes and principles of the UN Charter remained relevant. Any act to weaken the authority of the Security Council or to impose the will an individual country or bloc of countries on the Security Council was very dangerous. Decisions made by the United Nations must give full expression to the reasonable propositions of all its members and the UN must maintain their legitimate rights and interests.
He called on the international community to develop a new security concept responsive to the needs of the times and new ways to maintain peace and security. The core of the new security concept should be mutual trust, mutual benefit, equality and cooperation. The Five Principles of Peaceful Co-existence and the purposes of the UN Charter should serve as the political basis for the maintenance of international security while mutually beneficial cooperation and common development its economic guarantee, and peaceful dialogue, consultation and negotiation on an equal footing its correct methods. He called on the international community to promote a healthy development of the disarmament process based on the new security concept.
He stressed the need to reform the existing international economic and financial systems. Developed countries should fulfil more obligations for the reform while developing countries should have the right to equal participation in world economic decision-making and formulation of relevant rules. He called on the international community to oppose trade discrimination, the rich bullying the poor and willful imposition of economic sanctions or threat of sanctions against other countries. Developed and developing countries should work together for a sustainable development for both. At the same time, developed countries should take the lead in providing developing countries with technical and financial assistance to help the latter to deal with transnational issues such as environmental protection, population, poverty and debt.
He expressed the Chinese people's readiness to work with all other peoples for the establishment of a just and rational new international order and for the peace, development and all-round progress of humanity in the new century.
Minister Tang's statement was well received by all the participating countries, developing ones in particular.