Yearender: 2019 witnesses China throwing full weight behind multilateralism

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by Xinhua writer Wang Jiangang

UNITED NATIONS, Dec. 20 (Xinhua) — Unilateralism and protectionism have been eroding the global governance system throughout 2019, prompting widespread concern among members of the international community.

Braving such headwinds, China has been doing its utmost to defend multilateralism, via concrete actions such as paying in full all it owes for the 2019 UN regular budget, actively participating in climate action, strongly backing UN peacekeeping operations, and vigorously promoting dialogue and consultation so as to resolve global and regional hotspot issues.

Eyeing surging unilateralism, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has expressed his concern on a number of occasions that the world might be suffering from a “great fracture.”

China, playing an increasingly active role in world affairs, has been trying all it can to fulfill its international responsibilities and obligations in an earnest manner.

In December, China participated in the United Nations Climate Change Conference, making a positive contribution to the outcome of the meeting.

As a co-lead of the 2019 Climate Action Summit’s Nature-Based Solutions action area, China called for a systematic understanding of the relationship between human beings and nature, a full recognition of the ecological value of Earth, reliance on natural forces to deal with the risks posed by climate change, and fostering a low-emission and climate-resilient society.

China urged incorporating nature-based solutions in the post-2020 global biodiversity framework and giving consideration to the potential of natural systems to facilitate mitigation and adaptation.

Also in the year, the United Nations was hit hard by the worst financial crisis in a decade.

As one of the founding members of the UN, China has never defaulted on its dues to the organization.

UN officials said that despite a substantial increase in China’s contribution to the UN, it still managed to pay its 2019 contributions in a timely, full and unconditional manner.

“Safeguarding multilateralism has become an urgent must,” said Maria Fernanda Espinosa Garces, president of the 73rd session of the UN General Assembly (UNGA), while highly commending China’s firm commitment to multilateralism, which is vital to the stability, security and healthy development of the entire world.

Throughout the year, China has been making full use of the UNGA, the Security Council and other major multilateral occasions or venues to promote the resolution of such issues as the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula and other issues through dialogue and consultation.

China has also taken an active part in UN peacekeeping.

Meanwhile, Chinese peacekeepers have continued to carry out armed patrols and humanitarian relief operations in Lebanon, Mali, Sudan, the Democratic Republic of Congo and other troubled countries or regions.

More than 2,500 Chinese peacekeepers are currently on duty in seven mission areas, as well as the UN headquarters.

“China has played a very critical and very important role in UN peacekeeping operations,” said Atul Khare, UN under-secretary-general for operational support.

He added that China is not only the largest contributor of peacekeeping personnel among the permanent members of the UN Security Council, but also the second largest financial contributor to the budget of peacekeeping operations.

As the world’s second largest economy, China has contributed more than 30 percent of world economic growth for more than a decade, becoming a major driver of global growth.

China has always been a contributor to global development, firmly upholding the multilateral trading system with the World Trade Organization at its core, and remains committed to building an open world economy.

China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), launched six years ago, has received a positive response from the international community. At the UN, almost all staff are familiar with the initiative.

For June Sappakit, a waiter working at the UN Delegates Dining Room for 19 years, what has intrigued her recently has not been celebrities dining here with UN officials, but China’s BRI.

The BRI has become a buzzword in recent years at various events held in the dining room by UN member states and non-UN organizations and companies.

“What interests me is that China is seeking to connect many countries by helping build railways, highways and other infrastructure facilities in related countries,” Sappakit said.

“It is a very good program catering to the interests of people in countries along the Belt and Road.”

UNGA President Espinosa lauded China’s achievement in lifting over 700 million people out of poverty over the past several decades, calling it a miracle and an excellent example for other countries struggling with poverty.

Guterres, in his congratulatory message on the 70th anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic of China, said “China has been a key participant in the work of our organization and has played a central role as a pillar of international cooperation and multilateralism.”

“China and the United Nations are continuing to work together to address pressing global issues,” he said.

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