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Remarks by Vice Foreign Minister Ma Zhaoxu at Vision China Program

2020/09/16

I want to begin by thanking Vision China for inviting me to talk about this very important topic for both China and the United Nations: Poverty Eradication and Peaceful Development.

Seventy-five years ago, when the world finally emerged from the rubble of the World War II, nations came together to found the United Nations. In the years since, the UN has lived up to its role as the most representative, authoritative, and comprehensive platform of international cooperation, and has made tremendous contribution to world peace, stability, and common development.

Today, our world is facing unprecedented challenges. COVID-19 is still spreading. The world economy is in deep recession. Efforts to implement the 2030 Agenda is suffering major setbacks. An estimate of 70 to 100 million people could be pushed into extreme poverty. Yet, despite these challenges and the profound changes we face unseen in a century, peace and development remains the defining trend of our times, and the shared aspiration of the people across the world. So it has become ever more important that we stand firmly committed to multilateralism with the UN at its core, and combine our efforts towards a community of shared future for mankind. To be successful in that endeavor, we must do right four things. Let me take each in turn.

First, we must safeguard the international system with the UN at its core. The Charter of the United Nations is not only the constituent instrument of the United Nations as an organization. It is also a legal manifesto encompassing the basic principles and norms for its 193 member states. Faithfully observing the purposes and principles of the UN Charter, and upholding the international order based on international law, is crucial for world peace and development. We must reject any act that undermines the norms governing international relations. And we must act together to defeat the attempt of certain country to start a new "Cold War".

Second, we must uphold multilateralism. Decisions on world affairs need to be made through consultation. No country should be allowed to dominate over others. Any attempt to bring back the law of the jungle and barbarism is a lost cause. While multilateralism gives us solutions and options, unilateralism will only lead us astray to a dead end. It is a choice between the right and wrong. When certain country goes full steam with its unilateralism, protectionism, and bullyism, breaking commitments and back-stepping from international cooperation, the whole world is paying a heavy price. We must say no to these acts of unilateralism and bullying, and jointly promote a new type of international relations based on mutual respect, fairness and justice, and win-win cooperation.

Third, we must prioritize development on the agenda. Development is the master key to all problems, and poverty eradication deserves our most strategic focus. We must leverage the Decade of Action for the Sustainable Development Goals, support the work of the United Nations' Alliance for Poverty Eradication, and jointly advance cooperation on poverty eradication and the implementation of the 2030 Agenda. The principle of common but differentiated responsibilities is crucial and must be upheld. We urge the developed countries to honor their ODA commitments on time and in full, and provide adequate and stable capital, technical and capacity building support to the developing countries. Economic growth is the fundamental driving force for poverty eradication and development. We must strive for a safe and orderly return to work and maintain stability and integrity of the global industrial and supply chains. To this end, during the G20 Foreign Ministers' Meeting earlier this month, State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi put forward a Chinese initiative on Facilitating Cross-border Flow of People and Goods. We welcome all interested parties to join this initiative. It is also important that the international community implement the Paris Agreement to achieve a green recovery.

Continue on the point of development, I want to emphasize that every country in this world is entitled to development. It is an inherent right of all nations. Alarmingly, some country is now trying to monopolize that right, using threats, coercion, and sanction to deny the right to development of other countries. But make no mistake, such despicable acts are doomed to failure.

Fourth, we must continue to strive for a community of shared future for mankind. This pandemic has taught us a good lesson. We have come to realize more keenly than ever before that all countries' interests are closely interconnected, and the whole humanity share a common destiny. Only by standing together can we defeat the pandemic. We support the continued leading and coordinating role of the United Nations and the World Health Organization in this fight. And we call on everyone to reject politicization, stigma, blame game and scapegoating. Despite the strong headwinds, we must remain committed to win-win cooperation and continue to steer economic globalization in the right direction.

Ladies and Gentleman,

As the first country to sign the UN Charter, and as a responsible country and permanent member of the UN Security Council, China supports the important role of the United Nations, and upholds the UN's authority and core status in the international system. No matter how the world changes, China will always stand firmly committed to building peace, promoting development, maintaining international order, and providing global public goods. Our resolve to safeguard multilateralism, fairness and justice will never waver. Our resolve to push for just and reasonable solution to hot-spot issues, and to bring about a more fair, just, and reasonable international order will never waver. Our resolve to build a community of shared future for mankind will never waver. And our resolve to jointly promote the Belt and Road Initiative, and achieve the SDGs will never waver.

As the world's largest developing country, China takes poverty eradication as a central priority. From end of 2012 to end of 2019, impoverished population in China had reduced from 98.99 million to 5.51 million with poverty incidence rate dropping from 10.2 percent to 0.6 percent. For 7 years in a row, 10 million plus people were helped out of poverty annually. In total, China has successfully lifted more than 700 million people out of poverty during the 4-decade-and-more Reform and Opening Up, accounting for over 70 percent of poverty reduction worldwide in the same period. In the past 7 years, rural per capita disposable income in 832 poverty-striken counties has increased to 11,567 RMB Yuan from 6,079 Yuan, averaging a yearly growth rate of 9.7 percent. Tarmac and cement roads have been paved in all administrative villages where conditions allow. All villages have had clinics and medical practitioner. Over 99.9 percent of registered poor population have been covered by the basic medical care insurance. Reliability ratio of rural power grid has reached 99 percent. And the teaching conditions of 108,000 compulsory education schools have been improved.

Our poverty eradication endeavors have profoundly changed the lives of many. In the Ethnic Yi Autonomous Prefecture, Yunnan Province, a woman artisan named Li Congmei not only lifted herself out of poverty by making embroidery pieces, but also motivated many others to follow. Together, they have successfully explored a path to better life through stay-at-home businesses, while at the same time helped preserving ethnic culture and traditional craftsmanship. In a poverty-striken village in the Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region, Dr. Li Yan, an agriculturalist, runs a vegetable farming service business. Dr. Li has spent 28 years traveling to all corners of the region, teaching science-based vegetable farming, empowering many peasants to end poverty for good.

There are numerous stories such as these. There are millions of Chinese people like Li Congmei and Li Yan. Through relentless efforts, they have shaken off poverty and achieved a life of affluence and happiness. This year, we are determined to overcome the impact of COVID-19 pandemic, win the battle against poverty, and achieve, 10 years ahead of schedule, the Sustainable Development Goal of ending extreme poverty, thus making historic contribution to the global fight against poverty and efforts for peace and development.

Going forward, we will continue to fully implement COVID-19 response and cooperation measures that President Xi Jinping outlined at the 73rd World Health Assembly. We will support economic and social development in affected countries, especially developing ones. We will take active steps to set up a global humanitarian response depot and hub in China. And we will continue to implement the G20 Debt Service Suspension Initiative for the poorest countries, and fulfill the promise of making the COVID-19 vaccine a global public good once it comes out. China stands ready to work with all international partners, and make further contribution to the global pandemic response and the world economic recovery.

That concludes my remarks today on poverty eradication and peaceful development. I would like to close by wishing the Vision China program a great success. Thank you all for listening.

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