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Ambassador Zhang Jun: We must stay committed to equality of all countries regardless of their size and practice true multilateralism

2022-04-28 18:16

On April 28, Ambassador Zhang Jun attended the High-level Roundtable on Small States, Multilateralism and International Law. He stressed at the meeting that in the face of various challenges and crises, we must stay committed to equality of all countries regardless of their size, safeguard the authority and universal application of international law, and practice true multilateralism.

Ambassador Zhang pointed out that the world today is eye-witnessing grave challenges for peace and development, and intertwined uncertainties and instabilities. All these are posing enormous pressure on countries, especially small states. The various crises merit our deep reflection. “What is happening to the world?” “Where are we humanity headed?” These are questions that must be answered. In times of crisis, it is more important for us to realize that humanity belongs to a community with a shared future, and we should spare no effort to build our common home. Recently, Chinese President Xi Jinping proposed the Global Security Initiative. The Initiative offers China’s solutions to make up the peace deficit and address security challenges. It echos the shared aspiration of the international community for peace, cooperation, and development.

Ambassador Zhang said that to address the challenges, we must stay committed to true multilateralism. If the current geopolitical conflict tells us anything, it is that true multilateralism has nothing to do with group politics, small cliques, bloc confrontation, or a new Cold War. True multilateralism is about safeguarding the international system with the United Nations at its core. The purposes and principles of the UN Charter should be upheld. The sovereignty and territorial integrity of all countries should be respected. The rights of all countries to independently choose their social system and development path should be protected. And the legitimate security concerns and demands of all parties should be guaranteed.

Ambassador Zhang said that we must stay committed to equality of all countries regardless of their size. Despite their differences in size, strength and wealth, all countries are equal members of the international community. This is a founding mission of the UN, and the essence of multilateralism and international law. However, hegemony and power politics still exist. There is still a long way to go for democracy in international relations. All too often, we see some countries, on certain occasions, say that they respect the rights of other countries to choose their cooperation partners. Yet on other occasions, they make irresponsible slanders about other countries’ normal interactions with third countries. It is unfair and unreasonable to ignore or even harm the interests of small states and force them to choose sides. This must be corrected through greater democracy in international relations.

Ambassador Zhang said that we must stay committed to the integrity and unity of international law. International rules should be made fairly and equally with joint participation, and they should be applied universally and impartially without exception. There shall be no double standard in applying international law. No one should just abide by international law when it suits their interests, and abandon it otherwise. No one should just make a few countries’ will as rules and ask others to follow. And no one should be selective in applying rules for different countries on the same issue. There is only one set of rules, that is the basic norms governing international relations underpinned by the purposes and principles of the UN Charter. All countries should follow these rules in good faith and together protect them.

Ambassador Zhang said that China’s foreign policy has always been about equality. We are the true friend of small and medium-sized countries, and have always stood together with them. Small states make up the vast majority of the 193 members of the UN. They have the most say in whether the multilateral governance system is fair or not. And they play an important role in climate response, sustainable development, and international rule of law. Therefore, in the work of the UN, the voices of small states must be heard, and their demands must be taken seriously. China stands ready to work together with all countries to unite under the UN banner, uphold the purposes and principles of the UN Charter, commit ourselves to mutual respect, mutual benefit, and common development, and safeguard the authority and effectiveness of multilateralism and international law, so as to together safeguard world peace and tranquility.

The meeting was hosted by the Permanent Mission of Singapore in commemoration of the 30th anniversary of the Forum of Small States. Foreign Minister Vivian Balakrishnan of Singapore chaired the meeting. President of the General Assembly Abdulla Shahid and Foreign Minister Kamina Johnson Smith of Jamaica attended and addressed the meeting.

The Forum of Small States, initiated by Singapore in 1992, serves as an important platform for small states to discuss issues of common concerns, exchange views and coordinate positions. It currently has over 100 member states.

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