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Vice Foreign Minister Luo Zhaohui Attends China Forum on International Legal Cooperation

2020/11/16

On November 13, 2020, the China Forum on International Legal Cooperation hosted by the China Law Society (CLS) was held in Beijing successfully. President Xi Jinping sent a letter to the forum. Member of the Political Bureau of the CPC Central Committee and head of the CLS Wang Chen attended the forum and delivered a keynote speech. Vice Foreign Minister and Vice President of the forum's organizing committee Luo Zhaohui attended the opening ceremony and delivered a speech entitled "The Global Pandemic Calls for International Legal Cooperation".

Luo Zhaohui said the theme of the forum "International Legal Cooperation in the Context of COVID-19" is of practical relevance as it responds to the global hotspot issue. President Xi Jinping's letter has pointed out the direction of international legal cooperation and our joint efforts against the pandemic and common challenges.

Currently, in face of intertwined challenges of the changes unseen in a hundred years, a once-in-a-century pandemic and the China-US trade war, as well as an upsurge of unilateralism and protectionism, there are more sources of instability and uncertainty in the international environment. China took the lead in fighting against the pandemic and recovering economic growth, and thus became the world's first major economy to report positive economic growth. We have made remarkable progress in poverty alleviation and the goal of completing the building of a moderately prosperous society in all respects is within reach.

The virus respects no borders or races. A cross-border issue needs cross-border cooperation. In the global village where we all live in, no country can wall itself off from the ravaging pandemic. A better response to the pandemic serves the interests of us all. When fighting against the pandemic, it is impossible to build a global community of health for all, facilitate green recovery and handle non-traditional security challenges without international legal cooperation. People now have higher requirements and greater expectations for international legal cooperation amid the pandemic.

First, the pandemic warned us that we need to join hands to deal with increasingly severe threats and challenges brought by non-traditional security issues. After the Cold War, terrorist activities such as the 9/11 Terrorist Attack gave us a bitter lesson that non-traditional security threats significantly increased when the world was facing both traditional and nontraditional security issues. The following events of the SARS pandemic, the Indian Ocean tsunami and the financial crisis all brought damages to the humankind. The unexpected once-in-a-century pandemic once again proved the massive destruction of the non-traditional security threats. As of today, over 53 million people have contracted COVID-19, and 1.3 million people have lost their lives.

Non-traditional security issues exist across borders and need concerted efforts of all countries. Promoting international cooperation is an important mission of the Charter of the United Nations. Only through solidarity and mutual assistance can we win the global battle against the pandemic. The history has proved and will continue to prove that mutually beneficial cooperation will replace zero-sum game, and multilateralism will prevail over unilateralism.

Second, the pandemic showed us there is an urgent need for a global community of health for all. The history of human beings is the history of fighting against infectious diseases. The Black Death in the mid-14th century, the 1918 Flu Pandemic and the SARS pandemic at the beginning of this century all took a heavy toll on human lives. Sustainable cooperation on public health and a global community of health for all are the call of our times and the expectations of all human beings.

China has actively participated in international anti-pandemic cooperation, been committed to making vaccines a global public good and joined the COVAX led by the WHO. While some countries ignored global public health security, withdrew from multiple treaties and organizations, and suspended funding to the WHO, which greatly impaired the global effort against the pandemic.

China believes we need to give the United Nations and the WHO full play to their leadership role, fulfill relevant obligations contained in the International Health Regulations in good faith, facilitate faster response to public health emergencies, and establish a long-term financing mechanism, a monitoring, early warning and joint response mechanism for threats to public health and a mechanism for reserving and allocating resource for the global public health. We need to revise and improve China's laws on public health such as the Law on Prevention and Treatment of Infectious Diseases, and the Biosecurity Law. China is ready to work with all countries to create a solid defense to protect the lives and health of all, and build a global community of health for all.

Third, the pandemic once again proved that sovereign equality and non-interference in domestic affairs are the principles of international law which must be adhered to. Since the COVID-19 outbreak, some countries have breached the principles of sovereign equality and state immunity, violated international law by applying domestic laws, and spared no effort in scapegoating other countries and making up baseless accusations. Their instigating acts of worsening unilateralism and bullying, interference in others' domestic affairs and stigmatization and suppression of other countries have severely destroyed the basic principles in international relations.

China advocates the rule of law, the coordination of relations among countries and their interests based on rules and institutions, and the promotion and preservation of international rule of law by all parties, especially major countries. We need to firmly uphold an international system with the United Nations at its core, and an international order based on international law. We resolutely oppose "double standards" and the application of international law in a selective way, the distortion of international law, the interference in other countries' domestic affairs under whatever pretext, and the attempts of stigmatizing the virus and politicizing the pandemic.

Fourth, the pandemic reminded us to advocate harmonious unity between human and nature, and green and high-quality recovery. Human beings are now facing global ecological and environmental issues featured by the increasing climate change and the loss of biodiversity, which have posed serious challenges for sustainable human development. Sustaining green development and promoting high-quality economic recovery after the pandemic have increasingly become an international consensus.

The Chinese civilization has always advocated the principles of "unity of man and nature" and "following the law of nature". China adheres to President Xi Jinping's thought on ecological civilization to promote green development and actively cope with climate change. We have pledged to increase our intended nationally determined contributions to the Paris Climate Agreement, to reach peak CO2 emissions before 2030 and carbon neutrality before 2060. China also proposed the "Belt and Road initiative" of green development and the "Belt and Road initiative" of public health. The relevant measures and initiatives will surely inject a powerful impetus to the world economy's "green recovery".

Luo Zhaohui concluded by emphasizing this world-changing pandemic calls for cooperation and international legal cooperation in particular. The international community should enhance cooperation to fight against the pandemic, uphold the international rule of law, and promote the building of a community with a shared future for mankind and a global community of health for all.

Representative from 18 countries including China, Russia and Brazil and relevant international organizations held discussions via video link. Beijing Declaration of China Forum on International Legal Cooperation was issued.

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