“The greatest ideal is to create a world truly shared by all,” Chinese President Xi Jinping said five years ago in his debut at the solemn UN General Assembly Hall, citing an ancient adage that reflects the defining world view ingrained in China’s millennia-old civilization.
Upholding that ideal, Xi expounded his concept of and approach to building a community with a shared future for mankind, his flagship vision on how to guide humanity through the various common challenges toward a better future.
Five years later, Xi’s vision is gaining more relevance and importance. As the United Nations celebrates its 75th anniversary, the world is undergoing profound changes unseen in a century, with COVID-19, the gravest global public health crisis since the 1918 influenza pandemic, having intensified both centrifugal undercurrents that are pulling the world apart and centripetal forces that are strengthening global solidarity and cohesion.
At such a momentous juncture, Xi is to appear once again on the most prestigious international platform, attending a series of virtual UN high-level meetings in the coming days and presenting China’s answers to the fundamental questions hanging over the world.
When he visited the UN headquarters in the fall of 2015, Xi brought a gift for the United Nations’ 70th birthday “Zun of Peace,” a red bronze bottle decorated by traditional Chinese auspicious patterns.
It shows the aspiration and faith of the Chinese people in seeking peace, development, cooperation and win-win results, which are also spirits of the UN Charter, Xi explained.
“The Zun of Peace embodies the close relations and shared values of China and the United Nations,” said then UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon when receiving the gift on behalf of the world body.
The great importance Xi attaches to the United Nations has been consistently demonstrated in practice. Over the years, he has visited the UN Office at Geneva and the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization in Paris, and met on various occasions with UN leaders. In May, he addressed the World Health Assembly via video link. Many of his important thoughts on global governance were delivered through these UN rostrums.
“Peace, development, equality, justice, democracy and freedom are common values of all mankind and the lofty goals of the United Nations,” Xi said under the dome of the General Assembly Hall in 2015.
Hanging high behind him was a huge golden UN emblem showing a world map inscribed in a wreath consisting of crossed olive branches, which carries the organization’s vision for a world free of war, hunger or injustice.
“Yet these goals are far from being achieved; therefore we must continue our endeavours,” he told the 193-member General Assembly.
The United Nations’ 75th anniversary is celebrated when the world is reeling from the still raging COVID-19 pandemic, the most serious global public health emergency since the 1918 influenza pandemic.
The pandemic exposes a lack of leadership and unity in the international system. Moreover, the United Nations and multilateralism it represents are facing unprecedented challenges with the rise of unilateralism and protectionism. UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres described the situation as a “1945 moment.”
The more complex and grim the situation is, the more important it is to manifest the authority and role of the United Nations, Xi told Guterres when they met in April 2019 in Beijing on the sidelines of the Second Belt & Road Forum for International Cooperation.
China firmly upholds multilateralism, the international system with the United Nations at its core, and the international order based on international law, and promotes the building of a community with a shared future for humanity, Xi added.
These words are never empty talk. China is currently working to set up a global humanitarian response depot and hub in China to ensure operation of supply chains amid the COVID-19 Pandemic.
It is also working to implement the UN Sustainable Development agenda with stronger actions in eliminating extreme poverty and cutting greenhouse gas emissions.
Over the past five years, the concrete commitments Xi made in 2015 have been implemented in tandem. A 10 year, 1-billion-U.S.-dollar China-UN peace and development fund was inaugurated in 2016 in support of the UN peacekeeping operations as well as social, economic and environmental projects.
China has also completed the registration of a UN peacekeeping standby force of 8,000 troops.
China’s support is crucial to multilateralism, Guterres told Xi during a phone conversation in March.
“No matter how the international situation changes, China will take the side of multilateralism and adhere to the global governance concept of extensive consultation, joint contribution and shared benefits,” Xi has vowed.
Building a community with a shared future for mankind “to me is the only future for humanity on this planet,” said Peter Thomson, president of the 71st Session of the General Assembly, after meeting with Xi in 2017 in Geneva.
Pondering on the fundamental challenges confronting the world and the path for the entire humanity to march ahead, Xi has proposed building a community with a shared future for mankind and the Belt & Road Initiative (BRI).
As BRI cooperation is yielding tangible results one after another, including Greece’s Piraeus port, the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, China-Europe freight trains, Xi has promised that China will continue to pursue a win-win strategy of opening-up, and share development opportunities with other countries.
“Welcome them aboard the fast train of China’s development”
Xi has proclaimed.
The theme of this year’s UN high-level sessions is “The Future We Want, the UN We Need: Reaffirming Our Collective Commitment to Multilateralism.” It echoes with Xi’s consistent call to build a community with a shared future for mankind, which was the theme of his landmark 2015 speech at the UN General Assembly.
In that address, Xi set forth a five-point proposal on how to build a new type of international relations featuring win-win cooperation and create a community with a shared future for mankind, with partnership, security, development, culture and ecology being the key aspects.
Recalling the scene five years ago, Christian Landrein, a retired UN interpreter for French language who translated Xi’s speech on site, said it was applauded for multiple times, and “the atmosphere was electric.”
“We only have one planet, which is our shared home,” said Landrein. “All countries must collaborate to protect it and ensure sustainable development, to guarantee a prosperous future for all nations.”