Why does UN need 'China plan'?

Photo taken on Sept. 20, 2016, shows the scene of the General Debate of the 71st session of the United Nations General Assembly at the UN headquarters in New York. The 71st session of the UN General Assembly on Tuesday opened its annual high-level General Debate at the UN headquarters in New York, with a focus on pushing for the world's sustainable development. Photo: Xinhua

Just two weeks after the G20 Summit closed in Hangzhou, the 2016 United Nations General Assembly opened in New York. While the focus of the G20 Summit was economic development and global governance, the UN General Assembly is paying attention to global issues including immigration, refugees and sustainable development.

With China having gained global spotlight during the G20 Hangzhou summit, an expectant international community has been looking for “China solutions” to a series of global issues for a long time, not only because of China’s role as one of the permanent members of the UN Security Council and the second-largest economy in the world, but more importantly because it has taken a development road that no Western country has taken over the past centuries.

Social issues like poverty, refugees, war and diseases had haunted China for a long period after the Opium War; and since the Reform and Opening up, China has also been struggling with social issues like environmental pollution and a widening rich-and-poor gap alongside a rapid economic growth. Such a history could give China a say on many international issues given its both good and bad experiences, and its close cooperation with the international community on many global issues in the past few years.

In terms of problems brought by refugee movement, China has had close cooperation with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees in the past few decades. While addressing the Summit for Refugees and Migrants of the ongoing UN General Assembly which opened last week, Chinese Premier Li Keqiang, who attended the meeting for the first time, also said China would provide 100 million US dollars in additional humanitarian aid to help solve problems brought about by massive movement of refugees and migrants.

As to sustainable development, China has also involved the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development into its 13th Five Year Plan, and during the G20 Hangzhou Summit, China clarified the general direction and idea to promote the development of a strong, sustainable, balancing and tolerant global economy.

The “China plan” to promote sustainable development involves three main features.

Firstly, the “China plan” involved in promoting sustainable development focuses on the balance between economic development and environmental protection. China has put forward five development concepts in the 13th Five Year Plan, which are innovation, coordination, green development, opening up, and sharing, bringing the goal of sustainable development in sight. As mentioned above, while China was pursuing a rapid GDP growth in the past few years, it also had to pay back with its soil and air, which, in turn, became a “China lesson” helping to enrich the “China plan.”

Secondly, the “China plan” involved in promoting sustainable development seeks balance between innovation and equality. In order to create new engine and energy for economic growth, China has been encouraging innovation throughout the country in recent years. But innovation must help to promote equality instead of causing a wider rich-and-poor gap and strengthening class solidification. For example, the high threshold that individual or small sized enterprises get loans from traditional financial organizations could make some less developed regions hard to take off the poverty hat. But an inclusive financial system based on technology innovation, quite popular in China today, can make up for what traditional banks cannot do for low-income individuals and small-sized enterprises.

Thirdly, the “China plan” focuses on mutual benefit, reform and innovation, as well as opening up and sharing. Only with the understanding and support of the international community, especially those from the United States, can the “China plan” make a difference on the international stage.

With a deteriorating geopolitics and fragmented global governance, problems like North Korea nuclear weapons, Ukraine crisis, South China Sea dispute and THAAD could all baffle the international solidarity and Sino-US cooperation. China’s Belt and Road Initiative, for instance, has been mistakenly regarded as a motive to counter America for world leadership for a long time.

In fact, the current global governance is the combination of principles put forward by the United Nations, saying the unanimity principle and the principle of sovereignty equality of states, and a “peaceful” situation under American governance.

China and the US could play better roles in global governance as long as the above two rules get in tune with each other (eg., the Paris climate agreement), but the two countries would see discords if the two rules clashes (eg., the North Korea nuclear issue), and neither would be a winner.

The achievement of the “China plan”, to a large extent, depends on whether America would drop its Cold War mentality and a strong desire to control global issues. The achievement of the “China plan” also requires prominent political wisdom of the two countries’ leaders so as to solve global issues and to forge a “community of shared future for mankind”.


(This article is translated and edited by Chunmei.)


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