China’s 50 years in UN: Epitomising advocacy of multilateralism towards sustainable peace
Today marks the 50th anniversary of the restoration of the lawful seat of the People's Republic of China (PRC) in the United Nations, a historic event that will be solemnly commemorated by the PRC. Fifty years ago, the UN General Assembly adopted Resolution 2758 with an overwhelming majority at its 26th session on October 25, 1971. The resolution decided to restore all those rights to China and to recognise the representatives of its government as the only legitimate representatives of the PRC to the UN. Qiao Guanhua, the head of the Chinese delegation to that UN General Assembly, burst into laughter at the meeting after the resolution was passed. This scene has become a classic moment in the history of the UN. Qiao was subsequently invited to deliver a speech on the rostrum of the UN General Assembly on November 15, 1971. Fifteen days later, Huang Hua, permanent representative of the PRC to the UN, attended the Security Council meeting for the first time. Since then, both China and the UN have ushered in a new chapter.
The restoration of the lawful seat of PRC in the UN is a victory not only for New China's diplomacy, but also for justice and fairness in the world, and for the purposes and principles of the UN Charter. It is of great significance.
The PRC, with its population accounting for a quarter of the world in 1971, had been excluded from the UN since its establishment. It is clear that the UN was incomplete without China's participation. With China's return to the family of nations, the UN truly became the most representative and authoritative international organisation. It is conducive to the better functioning of the UN, which became more balanced in reflecting the interests and wishes of the majority of countries in the world.
Chairman Mao Zedong once said vividly that it was our fellow developing countries that "carried" the PRC into the UN. The restoration of the lawful seat of China in the UN shows the rise of developing countries. As H.E. Boukhelfa, the Algerian ambassador to China, pointed out, "China's restoration of its legal seat in the UN is a victory for China and the people of all developing countries." Since then, the PRC has been firmly upholding the purposes and principles of the UN Charter, breaking the dominance of the UN by the bipolar. The force for world peace and development has become stronger than ever before.
The restoration of the lawful seat of the PRC in the UN safeguards China's national security at the international level. It started the process of China' integration into the post-WWII international system. To date, China has joined almost all universal international organisations, more than 600 important multilateral international treaties, and the international trading system with the World Trade Organization at its core. It has also become a prelude to China's reform and opening up.
During the past 50 years, China has kept its solemn commitment to the UN Charter, and made important contributions to the development of the UN.
China has never shied away from its financial obligations to the UN. Since 2000, its financial contribution to the UN has kept on in an increasing trend, making China the second-largest UN peacekeeping contributor in 2016 and the second contributor to the General Assembly in 2019. In 2021, China's contribution accounts for 12.055 percent of the UN budget. As the largest troop contributor among the P5, China has participated in 29 UN peacekeeping missions, sending more than 50,000 personnel.
China has strongly supported the goals set by the UN. In 2015, China created the China-UN Peace and Development Fund to facilitate the work of the UN and promote multilateral cooperation. As of 2020, a total of USD 100 million from China has been injected into the fund, and 95 projects covering issues from peace and security to development have been implemented, which benefited more than 100 countries and regions in Asia, Africa, Latin America, and Oceania. As a pioneer in the field of poverty reduction, China has achieved the target of eradicating poverty completely. As Rahamtalla Mohamed Osman Elnor, permanent representative of the African Union to China, said, "China has achieved the poverty reduction goal of the UN 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development 10 years ahead of schedule, and it is especially worthwhile for Africa to learn from."
China has put forward a series of new concepts, including a "Community of Shared Future for Mankind," which has been absorbed into relevant UN documents. At the 76th session of the UN General Assembly, President Xi Jinping put forward the "Global Development Initiative," which has received warm responses from the international community. "In the past 50 years, China has actively integrated into the international community and played a leading role in international politics, economic governance, and rule-making," said a foreign envoy to China. So far, among 15 specialised agencies of the United Nations, four of them are led by Chinese director-generals—namely the FAO, the ITU, the UNIDO, and the ICAO.
At the new historical crossroads, China is committed to building a Community with a Shared Future for Mankind, and will continue doing its best to participate in UN affairs. We will defend the status of the UN, promote the purposes and principles of the UN Charter, and play the role as the advocate of world peace, the contributor to global development, the defender of international order, and the provider of public goods.
The UN-centred international system and basic norms in international relations based on the purposes and principles of the UN Charter are the pillars of multilateralism. We must oppose the use of multilateralism as a pretext by a few countries to impose their own rules on the whole international community. It is important to bridge differences through dialogue, and resolve disputes through negotiation.
China will always take the side of fairness by upholding sovereign equality and opposing interference in other countries' internal affairs, power politics, and hegemony. China will always take the side of justice by adhering to equity and impartiality and opposing geopolitical rivalry and exclusive blocs. China will always take the side of peace by advocating for political settlement and opposing the use of force and unilateral sanctions.
China is committed to common prosperity through development at home. As far as the world is concerned, China upholds the concept of "pleasure alone is not as good as all others." We will help build an open world economy, and are willing to share our development opportunities with other countries to achieve global common prosperity.
Facing terrorism, climate change, major public health incidents, and major global economic and financial risks, the countries in the world cannot stand alone and must work together to address those challenges. In the global fight against Covid-19 in the future, as President Xi has solemnly announced, Chinese vaccines will be made a global public good, and China will be committed to ensuring accessibility and affordability of vaccines in developing countries.
Professor Klaus Schwab, founder of the World Economic Forum, said, "China restored its legal seat in the United Nations 50 years ago. In the next 50 years, we can build a better, more cooperative, inclusive, and resilient world together." To respond to the expectations of the international community, China is willing to join hands with other countries in the world to make new and greater efforts to promote the peace and development of mankind.
Li Jiming is the Chinese ambassador to Bangladesh.