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Remarks by Ambassador Zhang Jun at the UN Security Council High-level Briefing on the Maintenance of International Peace and Security

2023-06-14 18:00

Madam President,

China welcomes the initiative of the UAE as President of the Council to hold today's meeting. I thank Secretary-General António Guterres for his address. I thank Grand Imam Sheikh Dr. Ahmed El-Tayeb and Archbishop Paul Richard Gallagher for their briefings at the start of the session. I also listened carefully to Ms. Latifa Ibn Ziaten’s statement.

Our world is at a crossroads in history, where the peace deficit, development deficit, security deficit, and governance deficit are deepening, and various forms of intolerance and extremism are eroding mutual trust between fellow human beings and among nations. As a result, the international community's collective ability to address global challenges in solidarity is severely hampered. In this context, it is highly relevant to discuss the value of the spirit of fraternity in promoting and sustaining peace. Here, I would like to share some of our observations and reflections.

First, respect for civilizational diversity. Diversity is a hallmark of our world and the fountainhead from which springs human progress. Civilizations differ only geographically and in terms of their distinctive characteristics. There is no such thing as a superior civilization or an inferior one. To believe that one's own civilization is a cut above the rest, and to be bent on transforming or even replacing other civilizations is sheer folly epistemologically, and disastrous when applied to practice. In history, colonial conquests and plundering driven by civilizational superiority and white supremacy wreaked such devastation in Asia, Africa, and Latin America that has never before seen. Today, interference, intervention, provocation, and incitement under the banner of “universal values” are creating new conflicts and new confrontations.

China believes and advocates that in this world of interdependence, while we should have the pride, confidence, and ambition to promote our respective civilizations so they can shine with vibrant brilliance, we must also have the large-heartedness and breadth of mind to embrace the development of other civilizations and the vision to promote exchanges and mutual appreciation and learning among civilizations. Speaking of mutual learning and harmony among civilizations, the UN, including the UN Alliance of Civilizations, has a big part to play. And it is incumbent on all countries to work toward this end together. In March this year, Chinese President His Excellency Mr. Xi Jinping unveiled the Global Civilization Initiative, which advocates respecting civilizational diversity, promoting the common values of humankind, valuing civilizational heritage and innovation, and strengthening international cultural exchanges and cooperation. China is ready to work with the rest of the international community to open up a new chapter in cultural exchanges, convergence of different cultures, and people-to-people engagement among all nations in the world, so that our collective garden of diverse civilizations will teem with vitality and colors.

Second, mutual trust among nations must be enhanced. Mutual respect, treating each other as equals, and enhancing mutual trust are the Sine qua non of consistent and healthy interactions among nations. Recently, we have seen some encouraging developments in the Middle East. Saudi Arabia and Iran announced the resumption of diplomatic ties between them as an outcome of the Beijing dialogue, thus setting off a rising tide of reconciliation in the region. Syria has returned to the League of Arab States, marking a reunion of the Arab family after 12 years. These developments have set a good example of mutual respect among countries by rising above their differences, and have injected positive energy into the unity and cooperation among regional countries. The international community should also seize this opportunity and work with a greater sense of urgency to resolve the Palestinian issue in a comprehensive and just manner on the basis of the two-State solution and to promote the peaceful coexistence of the two states, Palestine and Israel, so that the two peoples, the Arabs and the Jews, can seek development together hand in hand.

Under the new circumstances, members of the Security Council should be more united, give substance to their commitments, and better discharge their mandate of maintaining international peace and security. We should focus on solving the root causes of issues on the Council's agenda beyond a mere piecemeal approach to crisis management and invest more energies in our quest for lasting peace and common security. We should remain committed to political settlement of disputes and channel more efforts into negotiation, good offices, and mediation. We should do our best to activate dialogue to halt conflict and war. We should bring into full play and the unique role of regional organizations and encourage them to find regional solutions to regional issues. We must take an unequivocal stand against any interference in the internal affairs of other countries, against any attempt to stir up tensions to serve one's own interests, against drawing ideological boundary lines for the purpose of bloc politics, and against hegemonic bullying international relations.

Third, we must promote social inclusion. Social inclusion bears on individual well-being and rights. It also shapes the design of a country's foreign policy. Some countries are seriously troubled by severed social fabric and political polarization. It not only holds back their own stability and development, but also puts their foreign policies on the slippery road of conservatism and populism with palpable negative spillover effects. Those countries need to do some soul-searching and genuinely address the chronic problems in their own national governance, instead of blaming their own problems on external factors and looking for scapegoats. In particular, political leaders should shoulder the responsibilities that history places on them, forge social consensus, and actively promote reforms. They must not ride on and drift with the wave of populism.

Hate speech exacerbates social rifts. Extremism is rampant. Mis- and disinformation continues to spread unbridled. Religious intolerance and racial discrimination against peoples of African and Asian descent are on the rise. Islamophobia has reached epidemic proportions. This should be a cause for concern and vigilance. Freedom of expression should as a matter of course be protected. But freedom of expression should not be a license for hate speech, nor should it be an excuse for government inaction. Terrorism is a malignant tumor, that ails human civilization. It must not be linked to any ethnicity, religion, country, or civilization. We call for the operationalization of UN General Assembly Resolution 75/309 and for a strong global narrative to counter hate speech.

Fourth, we must focus on common development. Development is an important mark of civilizational progress and a concrete manifestation of the same. Leaving no one and no country behind is the solemn commitment of the 2030 Agenda. At present, the global economic recovery is fraught with mounting difficulties and developing countries are facing grim challenges in achieving the SDGs by 2030. Many of the hard-won development gains have even slipped away. The special vulnerabilities and fragility of developing countries are ultimately rooted in the unfair, unjust, and unreasonable international economic order. What’s more, in order to maintain their dominant position, some countries have imposed technology blockades and economic sanctions indiscriminately, advocating decoupling and cutting off chains and building small yards enclosed with high walls. These acts that hold back development and attempt to turn the clock back are as immoral as they are unsustainable. The international community must firmly reject them.

This year, we are looking forward to the midterm stocktaking of the UN 2030 Agenda and the summit on the SDGs. The UN should take this opportunity to increase its attention to and investment in development issues, so as to bring tangible hopes to all peoples. The UN development system should be a true partner of developing countries with a genuine concern and solicitude for them. Developed countries should honor their official assistance commitments. The international financial institutions should take steps to reform as soon as possible and make up the moral deficit and must not be reduced to private funds and private banks manipulated by some individual country. It is also important to effectively respect the right to development of developing countries, resolutely oppose the creation of various excuses for technological stranglehold and economic coercion, and safeguard fairness and justice.

Madam President,

Humanity is a community with a shared future. Whether or not our generation can replace division with unity, cooperation with confrontation, and tolerance with exclusion, will determine the future of human civilization. China is ready to work with the rest of the international community to practice true multilateralism, achieve common security, promote common development, and blaze a new trail together towards a better common future.

I thank you.

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