|Remarks by Ambassador Zhang Jun at the UN Security Council Briefing on UNAMA
Let me start by congratulating the UAE on assuming the Presidency of the Security Council for this month, and thanking Russia for its tremendous work as President of last month. I also thank SRSG Lyons and Ms. Safi for their briefings just delivered.
As is often said, if winter comes, can spring be far behind? Now this cold winter is coming to an end, but for the Afghanistan people, hunger and cold have not yet receded, and hope and spring still seem far away. As statistics from the World Food Programme show, 22.8 million Afghans face severe food insecurity, and 3.2 million children under the age of five are severely malnourished. Afghanistan is facing an avalanche of hunger and poverty. The briefing delivered by SRSG Lyons also reflected the severity of the Afghan humanitarian situation.
At this critical juncture, helping Afghanistan ease its humanitarian crisis and stabilize the economy should be the most important and urgent priority. The international community, especially major donor countries, should increase their assistance. And under no circumstances, should there be any political conditions attached to humanitarian aid. At the same time, it is important to recognize that humanitarian aid alone is far from enough to solve the problem. The international community should actively inject liquidity into Afghanistan, help the country restore its domestic market and economic system, reintegrate into regional and international economic cooperation, and gradually embark on the path of peaceful development. Any economic blockade or unilateral sanctions against Afghanistan should be stopped immediately.
Under such a grim humanitarian and economic situation, the US Government decided last month to divert the frozen $7 billion worth of Afghan assets for other purposes, triggering protests and demonstrations in many parts of Afghanistan. These assets belong to the Afghan people and to the sovereign state of Afghanistan. The practice of arbitrarily handling other countries’ overseas assets under domestic law has no precedent. It is a breach of Afghanistan’s national sovereignty and property, and is a serious contravention of international law.
These assets are the only few available assets owned by Afghanistan, and are crucial to the stable order and development of the country. For the Afghan people, these assets are their life-saving money and their hope for survival. When the Afghan people need it the most, the ruthless freezing or misappropriation of these assets is a secondary injury to them, and is completely against due spirit of morality and justice.
If there is genuine sincerity about supporting the Afghan people, definitely there could have been more and better ways to return these assets. As the US Executive Order indicates, some of these assets were unfrozen because the humanitarian and potential economic crisis in Afghanistan poses a major threat to US national security and foreign policy. Clearly, supporting the Afghan people is not a real motive here.
Returning other people's money in full is not a virtue of generosity, but a matter of course. Paying back half and deducting half of other people's money is not gifting, but stealing. This is the simplest truth. What the US did is neither legal nor reasonable nor humane. China once again calls on the relevant countries to immediately and unconditionally return these assets to the Afghan people in full, and not to make things worse, let alone apply double standards on humanitarian issues.
Afghanistan has been going through a lot of trials and tribulations, and is at a crucial stage of reconstruction. We have seen that Afghanistan is working hard to improve its political structure, restore order in production and life, and actively conduct foreign exchanges and cooperation. More and more countries are engaging with the interim Afghan Government in various forms, which is a good trend. The international community should continue to adhere to the Afghan-led and Afghan-owned principal, step up engagement with the Afghan Taliban through an equitable, rational and pragmatic approach, and patiently guide it to respond to the expectations of the international community. Only in this way, can Afghanistan gradually achieve lasting peace and stability, and eliminate the breeding ground of terrorism, and can Afghan women and children thus achieve better development.
China supports the UN in continuing to play an important role in assisting Afghanistan’s peaceful reconstruction. The Security Council will discuss the next phase of UNAMA’s mandate this month. China believes that UNAMA’s new mandate should be realistic, feasible and in line with a current situation and actual needs, focus on key priorities, appropriately control the scale, and not try to do everything. The top priority is to push the international community to increase assistance to Afghanistan, support the country’s efforts to improve people’s lives, maintain stability, restore socio-economic development, and better integrate into the big family of international community. The work of the UN in Afghanistan goes hand in hand with the cooperation of the Afghan governing authorities. Therefore it is important to pay attention to their reasonable views and concerns to pave the way for cooperation between the two sides. China will stay closely engaged with Council members to make proper arrangements for the mandate extension.
As a friendly neighbor of Afghanistan, China has always been committed to supporting Afghanistan’s peace, stability and development. China will work closely with countries in the region and make neighborly contributions to Afghanistan’s long-term peace and stability through mechanisms such as the Foreign Ministers’ Meeting on the Afghan issue among the neighboring countries of Afghanistan. We will also actively participate in various Afghan-related multilateral mechanisms, promote coordinated actions by all parties to create synergy, and help Afghanistan embark on a path of sound development.
Thank you, Madam President.