Moving Forward with the Aspiration to Build a Community with a Shared Future for Mankind
On October 25, 2021, the meeting marking the 50th anniversary of the restoration of the lawful seat of People’s Republic of China (PRC) in the United Nations (UN) was held in Beijing. Chinese President Xi Jinping attended and delivered an important speech at the meeting, in which he reviewed the extraordinary journey travelled by China together with the UN, advocated the promotion of the common values of humanity, and called for joint efforts to build a community with a shared future for mankind. His remarks pointed the way forward for building a better world.
The UN, which pursues multilateralism and international cooperation, was born out of the ashes of two world wars, which had brought untold sufferings to humanity. It breathed a life of hope to a world of devastation. Since its birth, the UN has undertaken the important mission of safeguarding world peace, promoting development and protecting human rights. As an important contributor to the Anti-Fascist War of the world, China was the first founding member to sign the UN Charter. Due to the obstruction of the United States and the West, the PRC was excluded from the UN for 22 years. However, the evil never prevails over the good, and people have a natural sense of justice. On October 25, 1971, the 26th UN General Assembly adopted Resolution 2758 by an overwhelming majority, deciding to restore all rights of the PRC in the UN and recognizing that the representative of the Government of the PRC is the sole legitimate representative of China in the UN. It was a momentous event for the world and the UN, a victory for the Chinese people and people of the world, a victory for justice, and a victory for the purposes and principles of the UN Charter. Since then, the Chinese people, who account for nearly one quarter of the world’s population, have been truly represented in the UN. The universality, representativeness, and authority of the UN have been effectively enhanced, and the strength of world peace and development has been bolstered like never before. As U Thant, then UN Secretary-General, said, without the PRC, the UN would never become a true UN, and Resolution 2758 was a milestone.
The restoration of PRC’s lawful seat in the UN has opened the door for China’s gradual integration into the post-war international system based on the UN Charter, provided a broad platform for China’s integration into the global market, and created a sound external environment for China’s peaceful development.
Over the past 50 years, great changes have taken place in the world. A series of major historical events, such as the oil crisis, the disintegration of the Soviet Union, the end of the Cold War, the popularization of the Internet, the 9/11 attacks, the international financial crisis, and the new round of technological and industrial revolution, have profoundly changed the political and economic landscape of the world. They have also lent a strong boost to economic globalization and had a far-reaching impact on the ways people produce, live and think. With more frequent contacts, countries depend more deeply on each other, sharing weal and woe together.
Over the past 50 years, China has gone through an extraordinary journey. Reform and opening-up have completely changed China. China has made much-acclaimed development achievements, creating the two miracles of fast economic growth and long-term social stability rarely seen in the world. China has become the world’s second largest economy, the largest industrial country, the largest trader in goods, and the largest foreign exchange reserve country. It has built a moderately prosperous society in all respects, eradicated absolute poverty, and achieved the poverty alleviation goal of the UN 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development 10 years ahead of schedule, setting a good example for the international cause of poverty alleviation.
Over the past 50 years, the destinies of China and the world have been closely linked. China has gone from the UN to the world. China’s active participation in the process of UN affairs speaks volumes about the close and sound interactions between China and the world. The connection with the world has changed China, and China’s integration has also had a profound impact on the world. China has added a chapter to human history through its own development, and contributed its own strength to the lofty cause of world peace and development.
Time is a great writer. It bears witness to “China’s original aspiration to making considerable contribution to mankind”. It also records China’s commitment to peaceful development and what it has done for the benefit of the world. In the 50-year journey that China and the UN have travelled, the cooperation between China and the UN has been continuously expanded and deepened. China has gone through a role shift from a bystander to a participant and then to a pioneer. No matter how the world changes, China has taken practical steps to implement the purposes and principles of the UN Charter, with an unwavering commitment to promoting peace and development, upholding fairness and justice, and defending multilateralism. It has become an important builder of world peace, the greatest contributor to global development, a staunch defender of the international order and an active provider of public goods. It has made unremitting efforts and important contributions to the realization of the ideals of the UN and human development and progress.
Over the past 50 years, China has firmly safeguarded world peace and security. The Chinese people love peace. The Chinese nation pursues peace and harmony. As a permanent member of the UN Security Council, China actively advocates political settlement of disputes through peaceful means. Since 1990, China has sent more than 50,000 peacekeepers to 29 UN peacekeeping operations. At present, more than 2,200 Chinese peacekeepers are still carrying out their duties in eight UN missions, ranking first among the five permanent members of the Security Council. China has set up an 8000-person peacekeeping standby force and a 300-person standby peacekeeping police force, making it the country with the largest number of UN peacekeeping standby forces and the most complete types of unites. China has actively participated in the settlement of major hotspot issues such as the nuclear issue on the Korean peninsula, the Iranian nuclear issue and Afghanistan, and has made unique contributions to promoting regional peace and stability. China has also actively participated in the international arms control and disarmament process. So far, it has acceded to more than 20 international arms control treaties and mechanisms, fulfilled its treaty obligations in full, and firmly safeguarded the authority and effectiveness of multilateral arms control treaties.
Over the past 50 years, China has made great efforts to promote global development. As the largest developing country, China’s development itself is a great contribution to world peace and development. China was the first to achieve the UN Millennium Development Goals and takes the lead in implementing the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. It has eradicated absolute poverty in China and contributed more than 70% to world poverty alleviation. China has always placed its own development in the broader context of the development of mankind and stayed committed to win-win cooperation and common development. From the Tanzania-Zambia Railway to the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), China provides assistance to other developing countries to the best of its ability and continues to provide new opportunities for the world through China’s development. China has actively participated in international development cooperation, implementing thousands of complete sets of projects and material assistance projects, tens of thousands of technical cooperation and human resources development projects, and trained more than 400,000 professionals for more than 160 developing countries. All these efforts help to enhance the independent development capacity of other developing countries and help them implement the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
The BRI put forward by China has delivered a strong boost to connectivity between countries and regions and effectively promoted the economic and social development and improvement of people’s livelihood in relevant countries and regions. So far, 141 countries and 32 international organizations, including UN agencies, have signed BRI cooperation documents. According to a research report by the World Bank, the BRI will lift 7.6 million people out of extreme poverty and 32 million people out of moderate poverty. It will increase trade among participating countries by 2.8% to 9.7%, global trade by 1.7% to 6.2%, and global income by 0.7% to 2.9%.
In September 2021, President Xi Jinping put forward the Global Development Initiative at the 76th session of the UN General Assembly, calling on the international community to make joint efforts to bring into play the role of the UN as a coordinator to mitigate the impact of COVID-19 on global development, speed up the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, promote more robust, greener and more balanced global development, and work together to build a community with a shared future for global development.
Over the past 50 years, China has been actively committed to the promotion and protection of human rights. China has always followed the spirit of the UN Charter and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, combining the universality of human rights with China’s reality, and making outstanding contributions to China’s human rights progress and the international cause of human rights. China has built a moderately prosperous society in an all-round way, historically solved the problem of absolute poverty, and resolutely won the all-out people’s war to curb the spread of the virus with the commitment to putting the people and human life above all else, adding a new chapter in the history of human rights in the world with its own practice. China adheres to the people-centered principle and regards the rights to subsistence and development as the first and foremost human rights. In a systematic way, China promotes the economic, political, social, cultural and environmental rights of all people, strives to safeguard social fairness and justice, and promotes all-round human development.
China actively carries out cooperation in the field of human rights, participates in the work of UN human rights mechanisms, conducts human rights dialogue and exchanges, and advocates the promotion and protection of human rights through international cooperation. China acceded to or ratified 26 international human rights instruments, including 6 key human rights conventions. It has played a constructive role in the formulation of several important international human rights instruments, such as the Declaration on the Right to Development, the Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action. China has been deeply involved in the work of multilateral human rights mechanisms and promoted the adoption of resolutions of the Human Rights Council entitled “contribution of development to the enjoyment of all human rights” and “promoting win-win cooperation in the field of human rights”. On behalf of developing countries, China has delivered joint speeches on “implementing the right to development”, “reducing poverty and promoting human rights”, “promoting international cooperation on human rights” and “promoting the equitable distribution of global vaccines”. This way, China contributes its wisdom and strength to global human rights governance. China firmly opposes foreign aggression, domination, occupation and large-scale violations of human rights such as racism, racial discrimination and apartheid, and maintains that economic, social and cultural rights must be promoted alongside civil and political rights. China focuses on promoting the realization of collective human rights such as the right to subsistence and development, and strives to promote the legal and de facto equality of special groups such as women, children, persons with disabilities, ethnic minorities, indigenous people and refugees. China has established human rights dialogue or consultation mechanisms with more than 20 countries and regional organizations to carry out human rights exchanges and cooperation on the basis of equality and mutual respect.
Over the past 50 years, China has vigorously promoted development and cooperation in social fields. China has actively participated in the work of United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), climate change, ecological environment, health, women, youth and other fields, and carried out cooperation at various levels and in diverse forms.
China and UNESCO have launched the Girls’ and Women’s Education Award, which aims to recognize institutions and individuals who have made outstanding contributions to the promotion of girls’ and women’s education. Since 2012, China has contributed US$2 million a year to establish a China-UNESCO Trust Fund for Africa with UNESCO to actively support African countries in improving their education and training capacity and narrowing the education gap among African countries.
China is making active responses to climate change. As one of the first contracting parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, China has made important contributions to the conclusion of the Kyoto Protocol and the Paris Agreement. As the largest developing country in the world, China has announced that it will strive to achieve carbon peak by 2030 and carbon neutrality by 2060, and will realize the largest cut in carbon emission intensity in the world, transitioning from carbon peak to carbon neutrality in the shortest timeframe in world history. To this end, China has put forward Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDC) goals and specific policy measures, involving domestic coal and power consumption. China undertook not to build new coal power projects overseas. These demonstrate China’s firm determination to tackle climate change, and testify to the fact that China is a responsible major country.
China actively participates in global public health initiatives. From helping to deal with the Ebola epidemic, to vigorously promoting global cooperation in fighting COVID-19, and taking the initiative to provide personnel and material assistance, China plays an important role in effectively responding to the pandemic and improving health services of recipient countries. China is one of the first to join World Health Organization (WHO) COVAX, providing US$50 million in cash assistance and actively supporting international cooperation in the fight against COVID-19. China supports the Global Vaccination Strategy recently released by the WHO and provides vaccines as global public goods. By mid-October 2021, China has provided anti-pandemic material assistance to 150 countries and 13 international organizations. In addition, China has sent 37 Chinese medical expert teams to 34 countries, helped 16 countries build regional vaccine production centers, and supplied more than 1.6 billion doses of COVID-19 vaccines to more than 100 countries and international organizations. In so doing, China makes an important contribution to the establishment of a global barrier of immunity. China has decided to donate US$100 million to the COVAX to distribute vaccines to developing countries and to donate another 100 million doses of vaccines to developing countries, which plays a key role in the global response to COVID-19.
Over the past 50 years, China has fully supported the central role of the United Nations. China has always abided by its solemn commitment to the UN Charter, firmly upheld the international system with the UN at its core, safeguarded the basic norms governing international relations based on the UN Charter, and endorsed the central role of the UN in international affairs. As UN Secretary-General Guterres said, with China’s support, the UN will be able to better fulfill its duties.
China has joined almost all universal intergovernmental international organizations, participated in more than 600 international conventions and amendments, conscientiously fulfilled its treaty obligations and earnestly delivered on its international commitments. As the second largest contributor to UN membership fees and peacekeeping assessments, China has always paid UN membership dues and various assessments in a timely, full and unconditional manner, and conscientiously fulfilled its financial obligations to the UN. To date, China has provided a total of US$120 million to the China-United Nations Peace and Development Fund and launched 112 cooperation projects to provide assistance to UN peace and development programs. While attending a high-level meeting on the 75th anniversary of the founding of the UN in September 2020, President Xi Jinping announced that China would provide an additional US$50 million to the UN COVID-19 Global Humanitarian Response Plan, provide US$50 million to the China-Food and Agriculture Organization South-South Cooperation Trust Fund (Phase III), extend the China-UN Peace and Development Trust Fund by five years after it expires in 2025, and actively support the UN to set up the UN Global Geospatial Knowledge and Innovation Center and International Research Center of Big Data for Sustainable Development Goals in China, so as to make new contributions to the international community in defeating the pandemic, restoring the economy, and accelerating the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
Since the founding of the PRC, China has always put its own interests in the larger context of the future of humanity and shared interests of all countries. China pursues an independent foreign policy of peace, advocates peaceful coexistence and friendly cooperation with other countries on the basis of the five principles of peaceful coexistence, and makes unremitting efforts to jointly build a better world.
Today’s world faces many global challenges, from terrorism, anemic economic growth, climate change, trade protectionism to anti-globalization, to name a few. In the face of the above challenges and risks, President Xi Jinping put forward the concept of “a community with a shared future for mankind” for the first time at the Moscow Institute of International Relations on March 23, 2013. After that, President Xi Jinping delivered important speeches on this vision on various occasions, at the Nyerere International Conference Center in Tanzania, at the Indonesian Parliament, at the UN General Assembly commemorating the 70th anniversary of the founding of the United Nations, and at the Palais des Nations in Geneva. As he pointed out, “In this world, countries are interrelated and interdependent to an unprecedented extent. Human beings live in the same global village and in the same time and space where history and reality meet. The world has increasingly become a community with a shared future.” In September 2021, at the General Debate of the 76th session of the UN General Assembly, President Xi Jinping proposed to build a community with a shared future for global development. In October, at the 15th Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity, President Xi Jinping expounded on the significance of jointly building a community of all life on Earth. The theory and practice of the concept of a community with a shared future for mankind have been continuously enriched and developed by Chinese leaders.
As the term implies, a community with a shared future for mankind suggests that nations and countries have a shared future and intertwined interests. We should act like passengers in the same boat, share weal and woe, and strive to build a big family of harmony for humanity. The concept of a community with a shared future for mankind is deeply rooted in the splendid Chinese millennia-old cultures, grows out from the practices of New China’s diplomacy, and represents Chinese wisdom in response to the call of the new era. As old Chinese sayings go, “When the path is just, the common good will reign over all under Heaven” “All people under the heaven are of one family and all nations should live in harmony” “seeking harmony without conformity and peace is of paramount importance”. The community with a shared future for mankind has increased the appeal of Chinese traditional cultures and the vision for win-win cooperation in the new era far and wide. The community with a shared future for mankind is the inheritance and promotion of the purposes and principles of the UN Charter, a form of strong support for the cause of multilateralism represented by the UN, and a continuous innovation of the traditional theory of international relations. In recent years, “Building a community with a shared future for mankind” has been written into a number of resolutions of the UN General Assembly, the UN Security Council, the UN Commission for Social Development, and the UN Human Rights Council. As UN Secretary General Guterres said, the purpose of the UN to practice multilateralism is to build a community with a shared future for mankind.
In the face of major changes and a pandemic both unseen in a century, human development has encountered multiple crises, the world has entered a period of turbulence and transformation, and instability and uncertainty are on a notable rise. There is an unprecedented deficit in peace, development, trust and governance. The world is at a new crossroads and the international community needs to work together to find effective solutions more than ever before. Promoting peaceful development is required for building a community with a shared future for mankind. Safeguarding fairness and justice is the pursuit of a community with a shared future for mankind. Achieving win-win results is what a community with a shared future for mankind is about. And improving global governance is the sure way to build a community with a shared future for mankind.
As the most universal, representative and authoritative intergovernmental international organization composed of 193 member states, the UN is an important channel and vehicle for building a community with a shared future for mankind. Seeking commonality through full coordination and uniting to deal with various challenges amid harmony in diversity is not only the founding aspiration of the UN, but also what the UN exists for. Building a community with a shared future for mankind is the indispensable requirement for building a new type of international relations, for carrying forward the common values of humanity, and for tackling global challenges. All countries should support the UN in playing a central role in international affairs, act in accordance with the spirit of the UN Charter, promote political settlement of hot spot issues, and resolutely oppose unilateralism, bullying and various forms of “fake multilateralism”.
Reviewing the 50 years of cooperation between China and the UN, we believe that we will adhere to the common values of mankind, pursue win-win outcomes, stand by multilateralism, unite under the banner of the UN, and jointly promote the building of a community with a shared future for mankind. This way, we will be closer to the dream of our own countries and the shared dream of humanity.
The world is changing rapidly. In this flat world, the efforts of each individual can be seen. No one is an island, and governments, international organizations, civil society and even individual citizens are stakeholders. A better world depends on the efforts of every stakeholder. Let us put aside our prejudice, cherish our dreams, and work hand in hand towards a community with a shared future for mankind.