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Work Together for a World of Peace, Stability and Sustainable Development

2016/09/22

Statement by H.E. Li Keqiang
Premier of the State Council of the People's Republic of China
At the General Debate of
The 71st Session of the United Nations General Assembly

New York, 21 September 2016

Mr.President,

I congratulate you on your election as President of the 71st Session of the UN General Assembly. I believe that under your presidency, this session of the General Assembly will move forward and make good progress according to its agenda. I also appreciate the effective work of Mr. Lykketoft as President of the last session of the UNGA.

I also wish to pay tribute to Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon who, with modesty and a drive for harmony and accommodation, has worked tirelessly and in a down-to-earth manner over the past decade, and whose work has contributed significantly to world peace, sustainable development and the advancement and protection of human rights in the world.

Mr. President,
Dear Colleagues,

The UN Sustainable Development Summit held last year adopted the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, opening a new vision for global development. At the summit, Chinese President Xi Jinping gave a speech entitled "Towards Win-win Partnership for Sustainable Development" to expound on China's principles and position as well as its readiness to advance the agenda for sustainable development.

This year is the first in the Agenda's implementation. The G20 Summit held not long ago in Hangzhou of China reached the Hangzhou consensus on world economic growth. A blueprint was drawn for building an innovative, invigorated, interconnected and inclusive world economy. Participants at the Summit pledged to actively implement the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and formulated an action plan toward that end, which injected new vigor to global sustainable development. The Chinese government was also among the first to adopt and release the country's National Plan on Implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. As for the General Assembly, it has decided that for this year's session, the general debate will focus on the theme "The Sustainable Development Goals: a universal push to transform our world". These, in my view, are all highly relevant.

Sustainable development is first and foremost about development. Development underpins every human achievement. Without development, nothing can be sustainable. The lack of development is often at the root of many problems facing the world. Be it poverty or the refugee crisis, war, conflicts or terrorism, they all could be attributed to insufficient development and none can be addressed properly without development. Only development can guarantee people's fundamental rights. Only development can root out the cause for global challenges. And only development can advance human civilization and progress.

Development must be sustainable. It must be sustainable in all dimensions, otherwise development will be stalled and strained. Development won't be sustainable if it is unbalanced, unequal and widens the gap between the North and the South and the rich and the poor. Development won't be sustainable if it is achieved in an extensive manner, driven by high consumption, high pollution and high emissions and depletes resources and strains the environment. Development won't be sustainable if economic growth and social progress are not well coordinated. Only when we keep a profound understanding of the implication of sustainability, make all-round progress in poverty reduction, North-South and South-South cooperation, climate change and other fields, and work to promote equal sharing and green development can we ensure that development is truly solid and sustainable.

Sustainable development must be inclusive and interconnected. Currently, the sustainable development endeavor is faced with grave challenges: regional conflicts and hotspots are incessant, traditional and non-traditional security threats intertwine, and the environment for sustainable development gives no reason for optimism. World economic recovery remains lukewarm, economic globalization faces strong headwind, and the momentum for sustainable development is weak. Frequent occurrence of major infectious diseases and natural disasters is increasingly prominent, the issues of energy and resource security, food security and financial security are interwoven, and sustainable development remains an uphill journey. Difficult moments call for stronger confidence. I believe mankind has the wisdom and capability to find a way out of difficulty. For that to happen, there must be cooperation and a spirit of working together to tide over difficulties. It is time that the international community take on a new perspective. It should see itself as a community of shared future in which all are stakeholders, and should make concerted efforts to jointly tackle global challenges.

Mr. President,
Dear Colleagues,

To advance sustainable development, we must keep both short-term and long-term interests in mind, tackle challenges with concrete efforts and work actively to transform and change our world.

- We must uphold the purposes and principles of the UN Charter. Without peace and stability, there will be no sustainable development; even the fruits of development already reaped risk being lost. The hard-won peace that has prevailed over the past 70 years or more testifies to the effectiveness of the existing international system with the UN at its core and of the norms of international relations established on the basis of the UN Charter. This international system and these norms governing international relations must be upheld resolutely, for they not only serve the common interests of people of all countries, but also provide the most essential guarantee for attainment of the sustainable development goals. Countries need to honor the purposes and principles of the UN Charter in letter and in spirit, and should support the leading role of the UN and its Security Council in global affairs. Countries need to be supportive of steady reform and improvement of global governance mechanisms, so as to adapt to the changing international political and economic landscape. A new concept of common, comprehensive, cooperative and sustainable security should be nurtured and a global partnership should be established that features "dialogue instead of confrontation, and partnership instead of alliance".

- We must stay committed to the general direction of settling hotspot issues through political means. Political resolution is the fundamental way to address regional hotspot issues. History has shown once and again that to repress violence with force can only lead to more hatred and warfare, from which no winner will emerge. Parties involved in conflicts must reject the zero-sum mentality. They should settle disputes through dialogue, address differences through consultation and seek reconciliation with tolerance. The mediation efforts of the international community must be fair and impartial. It should only facilitate the settlement of issues, not invite new troubles. On the Syrian issue, it is important to seek a political settlement. The international community should step up efforts to encourage parties concerned in Syria to put an end to conflict at an early date and reach a deal for comprehensive political settlement. On the nuclear issue on the Korean Peninsula, it is imperative to achieve denuclearization and maintain peace and stability both on the Peninsula and in the region. It is important to address issues through dialogue and consultation, and effectively uphold the international nuclear non-proliferation regime. Terrorism is the common enemy of mankind and must be combated resolutely. At the same time, the practice of double standard should be avoided and there should be no linkage between terrorism and a certain country, ethnicity or religion.

- We must work together for steady recovery of the global economy. The world economy cannot afford long-term sluggishness, otherwise sustainable development will be a fountain without source. The current world economy is faced with both insufficient aggregate demand as well as outstanding structural problems. It is necessary to employ effective policy tools in a holistic manner, and to combine demand management with supply-side reform and short-term policies with long-term ones. At the G20 Hangzhou Summit, participants reached common ground and put forward a series of major initiatives and measures to strengthen macro policy coordination, find new ways of growth, advance structural reform, improve global economic and financial governance, reinvigorate international trade and investment, the twin engines of global growth, and achieve inclusive and interconnected development. We call on all countries to make concerted efforts to drive the global economy along a path of strong, sustainable, balanced and inclusive growth. Major economies, given their significant influence, need to act in a responsible manner in policy-making and policy coordination. While focusing on their own growth, they also need to strive to reduce negative spill-overs of their policies and refrain from adding to the difficulty of global economic recovery.

Economic globalization, represented by trade and investment liberalization and facilitation, has been a strong driving force behind fast global growth in past decades. Yet, this is not to say that there exists any panacea in the world. Frankly, economic globalization has taken its toll on some industries and communities in certain countries to certain extent. Active measures need to be taken to address the problem, but it is always important to keep in mind the bigger picture instead of keeping one's eyes on the narrow interests only. Economic globalization is a general trend that is in line with the long-term and fundamental interests of all countries. Countries need to stand firm to oppose protectionism of any form, and need to be resolute in upholding the free trade regime represented by the WTO. This is a way to enable sustained and sound economic growth for all countries through win-win and all-win development.

- We must redouble efforts to address global challenges facing mankind. Greater attention and more support need to be given to Africa and the least developing countries (LDCs) to help them speed up industrialization, ensure food security, eliminate poverty and hunger, and provide everyone with a life of decency and dignity. More needs to be done to create an international environment that helps reduce inequality and imbalance in global development. International institutions should spend their newly-acquired resources on helping developing countries on a priority basis. Developed countries should make good on their official development assistance commitments, while developing countries need to rely on themselves for development and need to seek development paths that suit their national conditions. As we speak, the world is facing the largest-ever refugee crisis since World War II. It is imperative to ensure refugees access to basic living conditions to stave off a humanitarian crisis. Of fundamental importance is to root out the cause of war and restart development, so that source countries of refugees can embark on a path of long-term stability, development and prosperity. Countries need to stay committed to the principles of common but differentiated responsibilities, equity and respective capabilities, and need to jointly tackle climate change and work for the Paris Agreement to be universally accepted and take effect at an early date. Developed countries need to play a leading role, deliver on their emissions reduction pledges and help developing countries improve the capacity to mitigate and adapt to climate change.

Mr. President,
Dear Colleagues,

Since China adopted the reform and opening-up policy, the Chinese economy has maintained rapid growth to become the world's second largest economy in 2010. In recent years, the Chinese economy has been growing on a large base figure amidst global complexities as well as long accumulated underlying domestic issues. China has relied on reform and innovation to maintain a medium-high growth rate and accelerated economic transformation and upgrading. In the first half of this year, the growth rate was 6.7%, which was among the fastest in major economies. People's livelihood kept improving, personal income growth was basically in sync with economic growth, and over 13 million new urban jobs were being created on an annual basis. China's economic aggregate has exceeded US$10 trillion. Every one percentage point of growth now equals several percentage points of growth before, and the yearly economic increment is tantamount to the economic aggregate of a middle-income country. China's contribution to global economic growth has been around 25%.

The world's second largest economy as it is, China remains a developing country, and much awaits to be done in modernization. Looking ahead, the Chinese economy enjoys bright prospects given its big potential, ample advantages and vast space of development. China will continue to give priority to development, pursue innovative, coordinated, green, open and shared development, and strive to maintain medium-high speed of growth and move to medium-high level of development.

- China will promote development through deepening reform. Reform has held the key to China's achievements in development, and the same remains true for the future. China will not waver in deepening reform across the board to boost market vitality and social creativity. While maintaining aggregate demand, we will accelerate supply-side structural reform, improve the quality of supply, ensure steady economic performance, and advance structural transformation and upgrading. We will streamline administration, delegate powers, strengthen regulation and improve services, and will make proactive efforts to advance reforms in key sectors such as fiscal policy, taxation, finance, investment and state owned enterprises. We will follow an innovation-driven development strategy and one of mass entrepreneurship and innovation, and foster new growth drivers while upgrading traditional ones. The purpose is to ensure faster economic transformation and upgrading and steady economic growth.

- China will promote development through expanding opening-up. China's experience in past decades proves that a close-door policy only leads to stagnation and backwardness, and it is opening-up that brings development and prosperity. With a firm commitment to the win-win strategy of opening-up, China will open its door even wider to the outside world. We will further improve the open economy, increase access to the service and manufacturing sectors, develop high-standard pilot free trade zones, accelerate the signing of FTAs and investment treaties with countries concerned, conduct negative list management for foreign-invested companies, and foster a more equitable, transparent and predictable business environment. We will adopt new approaches to investment overseas, and work with parties concerned to advance the Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road as well as global production capacity cooperation. These are ways to achieve even greater mutual benefits and win-win development with more countries.

- China will promote development by upholding peace. For the Chinese people that have in the past seen too many wars for too long, peace is to be doubly cherished. China is a dedicated follower of the path of peaceful development. China regards all countries as equals whatever their size, and China pursues friendship and cooperation with all countries on the basis of the Five Principles of Peaceful Coexistence. China's neighborhood policy is one of amity, sincerity, mutual benefit and inclusiveness. China has worked through dialogue, negotiation and friendly consultation to address differences and questions with other countries, including disputes concerning territory and maritime rights and interests. China's approach is to expand common ground and shelve differences, and China has never relented its efforts for regional peace and stability. China has all along worked for the peaceful settlement of hotspot issues, and has taken an active part in international cooperation in counter-terrorism and non-proliferation. China supports international efforts to address the refugee issue, and will provide US$300 million worth of humanitarian assistance to relevant countries and international organizations.

China is a major developing country with a 1.3 billion population. Managing its own affairs well is its biggest contribution to peace and development in the world. Meanwhile, China also works in real earnest to fulfill its international obligations. China knows just how much other developing countries desire to achieve development and root out poverty, and has rendered them support and assistance to the best of its ability. By the end of 2015, China had provided a total of over RMB400 billion to 166 countries and international and regional organizations and provided training to over 12 million professionals in various sectors from other developing countries. Going forward, China will strengthen cooperation with other developing countries, and will do whatever is possible to help African countries and LDCs for the purpose of achieving common development and common prosperity.

China has taken action to advance the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. It was among the first to release a national plan on agenda implementation. Meanwhile, China remains supportive of relevant international cooperation. China's total annual contributions to UN development agencies will be raised by US$100 million by 2020 from the 2015 level. China was among the first countries to deposit with the UN an instrument of ratification of the Paris Agreement, and China will earnestly honor its commitment made in this regard.

Mr. President,
Dear Colleagues,

To achieve the goals for sustainable development is our common task. China stands ready to work with other members of the international community and contribute its fair share to a world free from want, and a world of development and dignity for all.

Thank you.

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