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Remarks by Ambassador Zhang Jun at Arria-Formula Meeting on Emerging Technologies

2021-05-17 04:11


The rapid development of emerging technologies, such as artificial intelligence, digital technology, biotechnology and material technology, is leading to a new round of scientific and technological revolution, and injecting strong impetus into human progress. Big data and AI have been widely used in environmental monitoring, climate change and other fields. Emerging technologies are also playing an important role in the monitoring, prediction, remote diagnosis and treatment in fighting COVID-19. The development and application of biotechnology such as genetic engineering, and material technology such as nanotechnology, provide new solutions to the challenges in agriculture and transportation, and help promote innovation-driven development and the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

Emerging technologies bring both opportunities and challenges. Globalization has made the world a community with a shared future. In this community where everyone is interdependent, with the development of emerging technologies, we are stronger than ever, and at the same time, faced with severe challenges. There are a series of outstanding challenges. Throughout the world, the development of emerging technologies is quite imbalanced, and the technological and digital gap is widening. Efforts must be made to address global governance deficit and improve the environment for international cooperation. Hidden threats to information and data security pose new security risks to all countries. We need to understand the importance of cooperation and strengthen relevant mechanisms in meeting these challenges, especially when global coordination is not in place. It is a daunting task for us to find better ways to develop, use, and govern emerging technologies to allow them to benefit people around the world while keeping risks under control. To this end, China wishes to propose the following:

We need to promote innovation-driven development, and comprehensively improve the development and application of science and technology in all countries to narrow the digital divide. Technological progress is crucial for human development. All countries must be fully engaged in the process of global technological development, to ensure that the advances in science and technology benefit all, especially developing countries. We must attach great importance to the uneven development of emerging technologies. Developing countries should be better incorporated into the global development of smart, networked and digitalized framework, to generate new momentum for growth and open up new space for development. We need to strengthen capacity building through the application of emerging technologies to raise all countries' capability to fight the pandemic, tackle climate change, and maintain food, energy and data security.

We need to create favorable conditions to encourage healthy competition and prevent the monopoly on technology. In a globalized world, where all countries are interdependent, it's impossible to achieve development in isolation, and technological progress should not and cannot be stopped by anyone. All countries should pursue open development, and meet the challenges in the process of development. Unilateralism, protectionism and technological hegemony should be firmly opposed. We should promote international free trade, ensure the normal flow of scientific and technological resources, and maintain the orderly development of global technology value chains, industry chains and supply chains. We need to uphold international fairness and justice, promote equal and mutually beneficial cooperation, and avoid technological blockades and barriers.

We need to strengthen global governance to better regulate the development and application of emerging technologies. Every major breakthrough in science and technology might break the old rules and order, and reshape global governance. With rapid development of emerging technologies, governance must follow. Facing both opportunities and challenges brought by emerging technologies, we must step up efforts to formulate relevant international instruments to fill the gaps concerning rules and norms, so that we can make best use of the opportunities and effectively reduce risks. State governments should consult together, contribute together and share benefits together. We should practise multilateralism, encourage active participation of multiple stakeholders, and increase dialogue and cooperation to jointly formulate international norms and rules on emerging technologies. Last year, China launched the Global Initiative on Data Security and we welcome the positive response and active participation by all parties.

We need to fully recognize the potential risks and challenges of emerging technologies to better maintain international peace and security. We need to firmly uphold social fairness and justice, and ensure that technological innovation complies with the law and universally-recognized international norms. We must ensure emerging technologies are of the people, by the people and for the people. Special attention should be paid to the use of emerging technologies in armed conflicts, which could lower the threshold of conflict and exacerbate regional tensions. We must prevent emerging technologies from falling into the hands of terrorist groups, being used to spread disinformation and hate speech, and becoming new means of crime. It is necessary to strengthen the use of emerging technologies in UN peacekeeping operations, so as to improve information analysis, early warning and technical support for effective operations, raise operational efficiency and reduce the security risks of peacekeepers. This is also one of China’s priorities during its Presidency of the Security Council in May. China has launched the “Group of Friends on the Safety and Security of UN Peacekeepers”, and will organize a discussion on “improving safety and security of peacekeepers” later this month.

We need to strengthen coordination to support the central role of the UN. We must firmly uphold multilateralism, and maintain the UN-centered international system and the international order underpinned by international law. The UN should pay more attention to emerging technologies, and further study and explore the establishment of a democratic, transparent, and inclusive framework for international cooperation and governance from the perspectives of peace, development and security. UN agencies should put forward targeted policy recommendations and strengthen coordination to better seize the opportunities and tackle the risks and challenges brought by emerging technologies. The Security Council should pay more attention to the impact of emerging technologies on such issues as peacekeeping, counter-terrorism and non-proliferation. Great efforts are needed to improve the equipment and capabilities of peacekeeping operations to ensure safety and security of peacekeepers.


Emerging technologies are becoming a new engine of economic development, a new area of international cooperation, and a new issue of global governance. Let's work together to expand consensus and coordinate actions to jointly ensure that emerging technologies advance the well-being of humankind.

Thank you.

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