Upholding multilateralism is an important political agenda for the international community, said Jenny Shipley, former prime minister of New Zealand, during a recent interview.

She made the remarks after attending the Imperial Springs International Forum in Guangzhou City of south China’s Guangdong Province, speaking highly of China’s efforts in promoting sustainable development and helping other economies through the Belt & Road Initiative.

“China has some very good development models. It’s been hugely successful in its own sustainable development. It’s a leader in the Belt & Road, saying don’t let’s get bogged down with geopolitical considerations, let’s try and deal with finding ways to have people having access to energy, having infrastructure that serves their economies well, so people can see their lives improve,” said Shipley.

Against the rising trend of protectionism and unilateralism in the international community, Shipley praised China’s support for multilateralism, saying it is an important global agenda to uphold it.

“China has been a great champion here around multilateralism, particularly since joining the WTO. And that’s highly valued by small economies such as New Zealand. We must get the global negotiation framework moving properly so that countries are not left behind. Because if we do have uneven development in the next two decades, we will also have unmanageable social, and geopolitical, and environmental problems. The incentive on all of us to try to find a new way through, bringing multilateralism back to life, has still got to be on the political agenda,” said Shipley.

As the trade dispute between the U.S. and China has been through ups and downs for almost two years, Shipley hopes the two countries can eventually come to an agreement because the damage of the dispute has spread to the rest of the world.

“I think in the current dispute, we all hope that there will be a resolution, and that is a matter between China and the United States. Although it affects us all, because when the two big guys stall, then everyone else waits or feels like they should wait,” said Shipley.

Despite its trade dispute with the United States, China is making significant progress in conducting cooperation with other countries, especially under the framework of Belt & Road Initiative, which has brought hopes and benefits to the local people

According to Shipley.

“In the South-South activity, you have seen the Belt & Road issues between China and some particular economies flourish. And I recently had a good look at those developments and where there are things like energy or infrastructure with roading or telecommunications, connectivity people’s hopes are rising because they feel they’re becoming far better connected either to the global economy or the regional economy,” said Shipley.