Multilateralism Can Help Us Tackle Global Challenges Together
By Ambassador Yu Dunhai
2021/01/30

The beautiful Swiss town of Davos is not only a world-renowned ski resort, but also an important window for taking the pulse of the global economy. The annual World Economic Forum held there is a brainstorming event for political and business elites from around the world to exchange ideas and insights, which broaden their vision.

Four years ago, against the backdrop of rising unilateralism, protectionism and anti-globalization, Chinese President Xi Jinping delivered a keynote speech titled Jointly Shoulder Responsibility of Our Times, Promote Global Growth at the Opening Session of the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting 2017.

In his speech, President Xi pointed out that mankind has become a close-knit community of shared future. Countries have extensive converging interests and are mutually dependent. To channel the waters in the ocean of world economy back into isolated lakes and creeks is simply not possible.

President Xi voiced strong support for economic globalization and proposed that we need to strike a balance between efficiency and equity to ensure that different countries, different social strata and different groups of people all share in the benefits of economic globalization. People of other countries are all welcome aboard the express train of China’s development.

President Xi’s speech charted the course for people at a loss and injected strong confidence and impetus into the sluggish world economy. It elicited a warm response from the international community and was indeed of monumental significance.

Four years has passed since then, the world today is caught between a pandemic of the century and momentous changes never seen in the last one hundred years. The world economy is mired in deep recession. Global challenges keep popping up. Mankind is once again at a crossroads.

Do we want solidarity or division? Openness or closeness? Cooperation or confrontation?

On 25th January, President Xi delivered a special address titled Let the Torch of Multilateralism Light up Humanity’s Way Forward via video link at the World Economic Forum Virtual Event of the Davos Agenda, providing China’s approach to setting the direction for world development.

President Xi made insightful observations on the four major tasks facing people of our times, including to promote world economic growth, abandon ideological prejudice, close the North-South divide and come together against global challenges.

The way out of the problems is through upholding multilateralism and building a community with a shared future for mankind.

What kind of multilateralism is the world longing for? China’s answer is that we should stay committed to openness and inclusiveness instead of closeness and exclusion, to international law and rules instead of seeking one's own supremacy, to consultation and cooperation instead of conflict and confrontation, and to keeping up with the times instead of rejecting change.

President Xi also put forward a five-point proposition for China's pursuit of multilateralism, saying that China will continue to take an active part in international cooperation on fighting COVID-19, implement a win-win strategy of opening-up, promote sustainable development, advance science, technology and innovation, and promote a new type of international relations.

Adhering to the vision of pursuing common development for the world, China has always been an upholder and practitioner of multilateralism.

To support the world’s effort to counter COVID-19, China has provided assistance to over 150 countries and 13 international organizations, sent 36 medical expert teams to countries in need, and stayed strongly supportive and actively engaged in international cooperation on COVID vaccines.

To jointly tackle climate change, although still a developing country, China has set the goal of striving to peak carbon dioxide emissions before 2030 and achieve carbon neutrality before 2060. China is also working with other countries to push for the full and effective implementation of the Paris Agreement.

Not long ago, President Xi Jinping and European leaders announced that the two sides have completed investment agreement negotiations as scheduled. The agreement will provide greater market access, higher level of business environment, stronger institutional guarantees and brighter cooperation prospects for mutual investment. It’s a joint contribution by China and the EU to the building of an open world economy.

At the moment, COVID-19 is still raging across the world. People of all countries are battling the virus with enormous resolve and courage. Once we embark on this arduous journey, hope is our companion. Guided by science and reason, multilateralism will become the torch lighting up the way. If we aim for the right direction shoulder to shoulder, everything will pay off in the end. I firmly believe that catastrophes only make us stronger and the post-COVID-19 world will usher in a brighter future.

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This article was published in the Times of Malta on 30th January, 2021.

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