At a time when the world is facing a formidable threat from the upsurge of unilateralism and protectionism, Chinese President Xi Jinping’s call for upholding multilateralism is greatly inspiring the global community.
“Safeguarding multilateralism has become an urgent must,” said United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) President Maria Fernanda Espinosa Garces in a recent interview.
The United Nations commends the Chinese leader’s firm commitment to multilateralism, which in the current global situation, is vital to the stability, security and healthy development of the entire world.
Champion of Multilateralism
President Xi has pointed out that multilateralism is an effective way to maintain peace and promote development, and the world needs multilateralism more than ever.
As a founding member of the United Nations and a permanent member of the UN Security Council, China has always supported and practised multilateralism, championed peace, development, cooperation and mutual benefit, and worked for world peace, global development and international order.
“We have heard a loud and clear Xi,” the UNGA President said, recalling Xi’s vigorous efforts to sustain multilateralism.
Noting that Xi is a strong advocate of “a healthy, strong and efficient multilateral system,” Espinosa said that “we need the strong voices and the leaders that promote multilateralism as the only space, way and tool to address global challenges.”
Under the leadership of Xi, “China has been a very strong ally of the (multilateral) system, keeping the system healthy and alive,” she added.
The international community aspires for “a strong multilateral system, and a strong and predictable international law,” she said.
“It’s not that we have a Plan B,” Espinosa said. “What we have is a multilateral system that fosters dialogue and cooperation among countries, (and) that gives life and raison d’etre to the founding of the United Nations and to the principles that are embedded in the UN Charter.”
“Next year, for the 75th anniversary of the United Nations, we will have a golden opportunity to bring all the leaders to recommit (themselves) to remember why the United Nations was created 75 years ago, precisely on these three pillars that are interconnected and interdependent peace and security, development and human rights,” said Espinosa.
Positive, Timely Impact
In September every year, heads of government and state assemble at the United Nations to give important speeches on issues of major or common concern.
Among those, Xi’s speech, “Working Together to Forge a New Partnership of Win-win Cooperation and Create a Community of Shared Future for Mankind,” delivered at the UNGA in 2015, left a profound impression and has had a positive impact on today’s international governance.
“As the United Nations enters a new decade, let us unite ever more closely to create a new, mutually beneficial partnership and community of shared future for mankind. Let the vision of a world free of war and enjoying lasting peace take root in our hearts. Let the aspirations of development, prosperity, fairness and justice spread across the world,” Xi said in that much-publicised speech.
Espinosa, who said she herself had been putting all her energy into upholding multilateralism over the past year while steering the UNGA, said that President Xi’s speech “is very timely, because, basically, it is looking at the issue of greater cooperation, greater dialogue, a greater collective responsibility on the global challenges.”
The vision of building a community of shared future for mankind “has the same connotation as multilateralism,” she said, adding that the global community needs “shared prosperity and shared well-being for all.”
The UNGA President believed that President Xi’s thoughts “could be applied to the current climate emergency … can be connected with the current situation regarding violent extremism or terrorism.”
“This could be very well connected to issues such as human trafficking, all the issues that we have to face together, oceans and pollution,” she said. “This is something that is not affecting only the livelihoods of people that live close to the ocean, but it is affecting the entire world and climate balance worldwide.”
Espinosa also said that all issues, including cyber security, peace-building and peace-keeping, as well as UN reform, need cooperation, echoing Xi’s call.
“Otherwise it’s not going to work,” she said.
Espinosa has visited China in capacities as UNGA President and UNGA President-elect.
Talking about her interactions with Chinese leaders, Espinosa, Ecuador’s Former Foreign minister, said that the way that President Xi has been engaging in international affairs has set a good example for how leaders should deal with the changing world, which is riddled with challenges and threats.
From the Belt & Road Initiative (BRI) to the vision of building a community of shared future for mankind and to the relentless calls for multilateral approaches in coping with global problems, China and Xi have made significant contributions to international governance, said Espinosa, adding that the BRI is an example of effective international cooperation for sustainable development.
“I appreciate the BRI as an open initiative in principle and an example of effective international cooperation for sustainable development,” she said.
“In today’s interconnected world, major challenges cannot be solved by any single country, business or organisation acting alone,” she said, noting that “greater global cooperation is needed and multilateralism must be strengthened.”
The BRI provides “a powerful platform” for economic growth and large-scale regional cooperation, which is necessary to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), she added.
“World leaders should firmly commit themselves to multilateralism. Let us be a family and work together to make this world a better place to live,” said the UNGA president.
Using “strong leadership, wisdom and love for his people” to describe the leadership and popularity of Xi, Espinosa voiced her strong support for the Chinese president.
Under the guidance of Xi and other leaders, and with the painstaking efforts of the hardworking Chinese people, China has created the miracle of lifting over 700 million people out of poverty over the past decades, which is unprecedented in human history and has set an excellent example for other countries that struggle with poverty to follow, she said.
Wisdom has been seen clearly in Xi’s scientific governance, which is bearing fruits and guiding the country on a sustainable development path, she said.
Solidarity and cohesion will gain momentum among the Chinese people, which will become a strong driving force to help enhance the country’s national power even further, and new miracles are expected, as a result, said the UNGA president.
For a country with increasing influence in the world arena, its leader must be inclusive and have an international vision and perspective, which “we have happily found in Xi’s multilateralism mentality,” said Espinosa.