Interview: UN chief determined to defend multilateralism, commends China's role

Source: Xinhua| 2020-09-20 22:51:22|Editor: huaxia

United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres briefs reporters on the upcoming General Debate of the 75th session of the General Assembly and other matters at the UN headquarters in New York, on Sept. 16, 2020. (Mark Garten/UN Photo/Handout via Xinhua)

Calling it "a pillar of multilateralism," the UN chief said China has been playing an increasingly bigger role in regional and world affairs, adding that the UN's close cooperation with China also extends to peace and security issues around the globe, including in Asia, Africa, and the Middle East.

by Xinhua writer Wang Jiangang

UNITED NATIONS, Sept. 20 (Xinhua) -- United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has told Xinhua he believes that the COVID-19 pandemic has underscored the need to strengthen multilateralism, while also expressing hope to continue to work closely with China to address the common challenges facing the world.

"Looking at today's global landscape, it is clear that the common good is best served through more international cooperation, not less," the UN chief said on Friday.

"The UN's 75th anniversary, now more than ever, reminds us that multilateralism, consensus and cooperation must be instrumental in maintaining and safeguarding the principles enshrined in the United Nations Charter," the secretary-general said.

Guterres reiterated his stance on multilateralism under the current situation, noting it must be both "networked" and "inclusive."

Photo taken on Sept. 14, 2020 shows the United Nations (UN) flag flying outside the UN headquarters in New York, the United States. (Xinhua/Wang Ying)

"We need a networked multilateralism, in which the United Nations and its agencies, the international financial institutions, regional organizations and others work together more effectively with stronger institutional links," he said.

"And we need an inclusive multilateralism, drawing on the critical contributions of civil society, business, foundations, the research community, local authorities, cities and regional governments," the secretary-general elaborated.

Speaking about the COVID-19 pandemic, Guterres said "the virus is the number one global security threat in our world today and we need international solidarity to defeat it."

"We need to massively expand new and existing tools that can respond to new cases and provide vital treatment to suppress transmission and save lives," he said.

Chinese medical expert team members pose for a photo at Dr. John Garang Infectious Disease Unit in Juba, South Sudan, Aug. 21, 2020. (Chinese Embassy in South Sudan/Handout via Xinhua)

The secretary-general spoke highly of China's contribution to addressing global challenges and its success in poverty reduction.

Calling it "a pillar of multilateralism," the UN chief said China has been playing an increasingly bigger role in regional and world affairs, adding that the UN's close cooperation with China also extends to peace and security issues around the globe, including in Asia, Africa, and the Middle East.

"The United Nations and China enjoy a high level of cooperation," he said. "I welcome China's comprehensive position on a wide number of topics of common interest, ranging from climate change to peacekeeping, and sustainable development."

"I hope that China will continue its proactive policies to strengthen the UN's global work on maintaining peace and security and encouraging sustainable development," the secretary-general added.

Children have fun in a poverty-relief resettlement site in Xia'ao Town of Du'an Yao Autonomous County, south China's Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region, Aug. 18, 2020. (Xinhua/Zhou Hua)

The UN chief also called China's achievements in poverty reduction "very strong."

China is in the final stage of eliminating absolute poverty, he said. At the end of 2019, the number of impoverished people in China's rural areas declined to 5.51 million from 98.99 million at the end of 2012, with the poverty headcount ratio dropping to 0.6 percent from 10.2 percent during the same period.

The secretary-general said China is "emerging as a key player within the UN system."

China is the second largest contributor to the UN's regular budget, a major contributor to UN peacekeeping, and the second-largest financial contributor to the UN peacekeeping budget, he said.

Members of China's 5th peacekeeping infantry battalion to South Sudan take a military exercise in South Sudan, on Jan. 4, 2019. (Photo by Zhu Xiaonan/Xinhua)

Currently, China contributes a total of over 2,500 uniformed peacekeepers, who showed "consistently high quality and professionalism" in their service with UN peacekeeping operations, he said.

Guterres said that the UN is "proud of the strong presence of the United Nations family in China."

"Last year, we marked the 40th anniversary of the UN working in China, which coincided with the period of China's transformation through its reform and opening-up policy," he said.

"The United Nations has supported and witnessed China's remarkable development achievements during this period and is committed to further strengthening our partnership in all pillars of the organization's work, including development, peace and security and human rights," he added.

He said he trusts that China will continue playing an important role in supporting multilateral efforts in building more equal and inclusive societies that are more resilient towards unprecedented global challenges.

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