PRESIDENT XI JINPING SPEECH AT THE UNITED NATIONS SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT SUMMIT: A REVIEW AND COMMENTARY

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Addressing the UN Sustainable Development Summit on the occasion of the 70th anniversary United Nations General Assembly last month, Chinese President Xi Jinping outlined his vision for the new Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

In view of the path breaking nature of the speech in revealing China’s new point of departure in development practice and partnership, it is worth reviewing what the Chinese President said, followed by a brief analysis of China’s new policy for sustainable global development.

His discourse to the global body was titled “Seek Common and Sustainable Development and Forge a Partnership of Win-Win Cooperation.” This was his first speech at the UN since became the President of China in 2013.

In the speech, he identified ways in which the international Community should implement the post-2015 development agenda as a new starting paradigm for seeking an equitable, open, comprehensive and innovation-driven development path to achieve the common development of all countries.

He said China would shoulder the responsibility of implementing the post-2015 developmental agenda, and seek solidarity and cooperation to constantly push the cause of global development.

The fundamental way to properly address various global challenges, Xi said, is to “seek peace and realize development” because peace and development remain the two viable developmental themes in the world today.

Xi emphasized that the Post-2015 Development Agenda adopted at the Summit charts a new course for global development and offers new opportunities for international development cooperation.

He called on the international community to ensure equitable development by making sure development opportunities can be equally accessed. Towards achieving this goal, Xi said all countries should take common but differentiated responsibilities, improve global economic governance, enhance representativeness of developing countries, while giving all countries equal rights to participate in international decision making.

Countries must also be transparent in delivering benefits to all. In this respect, all countries should jointly uphold the multilateral trade system; build an open economy that would enable sharing of benefits through mutual consultation and joint collaboration.

Other viable strategies include seeking comprehensive development by solidifying the groundwork of development, upholding equality and social justice, and achieving harmonious coexistence between people and society, and between people and nature, and pursuing innovation-driven development to fully tap the development potential.

All countries should undertake reform and innovative ways of bringing out their development potentials, build stronger engines for growth, and cultivate new core competitive edges.

President Xi Jinping stressed that the international community should boost cooperation to jointly implement the post-2015 development agenda and realize win-win cooperation. He said the international community should help developing countries strengthen capacity-building. The international community should improve the international environment for development, safeguard global peace together and advance development through peace while consolidating peace through development. International financial institutions should speed up governance reform and multilateral development organizations should increase their supply of development resources.

Xi said that the international community should optimize the partnership for development, maintain the role of South-North cooperation as the main channel and deepen South-South cooperation and trilateral cooperation, improve the coordination mechanisms for development and strengthen macro-economic policies. Regional organizations should accelerate their integration process and build their overall competiveness by mutually complementing intra-regional advantages.

Xi Jinping noted that over the past 30-plus years since China started reform and its opening up, China has embarked on a developmental road with Chinese characteristics and basically realized the Millennium Development Goals. It has lifted 439 million people out of poverty and made remarkable progress in areas of education, health care and women’s welfare.

Over the past 60-plus years, China has taken an active part in international development cooperation by providing 166 countries and international organizations with nearly 400 billion Yuan ($63,492,063,492.00 USD) worth of assistance, and dispatched over 600,000 aid workers. Looking to the future, China would continue to take a rights approach to justice and interests by prioritizing justice over interests and join other countries efforts to realize the post-2015 development agenda, he emphasized.

President Xi Jinping announced that China would set up the South-South cooperation assistance fund, with initial contribution of 2 billion USD, to support other developing countries to implement their post-2015 development agenda. China, he said, would continue to increase investment in the Least

Developed Countries (LDCs) and would do its best to raise its investment in them to 12 billion USD by 2030. This investment stream would be exempt of the debt of the outstanding intergovernmental interest-free loans due by the end of 2015 owed by the relevant LDCs, landlocked developing countries and small island developing countries.

China would establish a Knowledge Center for international development to research and communicate with other countries on development theories and practices suitable to their respective national conditions. He said China would propose discussion on establishing a global energy network to facilitate efforts to meet global power demand with clean and green alternatives. China, he said is ready to work with other relevant parties to move forward the implementation of the Belt and Road initiatives, achieve an early operation of the Asian infrastructure Investment Bank and the BRICS New Development
Bank, and contribute to the economic growth and people’s well-being in developing countries. He reiterated China’s solemn commitment in shouldering the responsibility of implementing the post-2015 development agenda, by seeking solidarity and cooperation in constantly pushing the cause of global development.

Following his landmark speech, President Xi attended and chaired the High-Level Roundtable on South-South Cooperation co-hosted by China and the United Nations at the UN headquarters. He used that platform to reiterate China’s experience and development plans on South-South cooperation with leaders of many developing countries and heads of international organizations.

From an analytical standpoint in international relations, President Xi’s speech at the UN summit holds great promise for the world including China. It was a welcoming one because he offered so many developmental partnerships to the global community. China has become a very significant actor in the international, economic and trade system. It has the second largest economy in the world; second only to the United States. It is predicted that if China’s economic growth and development continues along the present path of indicators, it has the potential of becoming the largest economy in the world in the next quarter of a century.

The Chinese government and people can play a vital role in facilitating developments in the world especially in developing nations. They are now well placed to do so. They have the financial resources, the appropriate technology, and the manpower to participate in joint venture projects. These projects include the construction of roads and railway links, and ports. They could engage in the generation of hydro-electric power considering that many developing states, including African countries, have huge hydro-electric power potentials.

Developing nations, including those in Africa, need to be opened to investments from all other nations, including China. In fact, the Chinese already have a policy of economic and trade cooperation with many Third World countries including African states that suit its need. They invest money as well as deploy skilled workers who are well train and diligent. And China does charge excessive interests its loans. Chinese workers live modestly and present an enviable example of industrial and agricultural labor force.

In conclusion, given Liberia’s outstanding needs in infrastructure development, security, and capacity building, financial and human resources, China’s new development policy as enunciated in President XI Jinping’s recent speech at the United Nations portends well for Liberia-China relations. As a matter of fact, the bilateral goodwill had been anchored by both the Liberian and Chinese governments prior to the landmark speech. President Ellen Johnson commended China during its National Day celebration in Monrovia on September 11, for the pivotal role it has played in health, infrastructure and education in
Liberia. She also added that “China was the first to respond to Liberia’s need during the Ebola crisis with materials and equipment. China also sent a cargo plane loaded with equipment and materials worth US$1.8 million, and constructed a 100-bedroom Ebola Treatment Unit (ETU) and equipped same with trained medical staff.” For his part Chinese Ambassador Zhang Yue said “China will encourage and support Chinese enterprises to participate in the development of infrastructure in various ways and will promote capacity-building for Liberia by sending more experts to Liberia and providing more training opportunities in China.” China is currently one of Liberia’s important development partners. Therefore, President Xi’s recent offer of partnership to developing countries through South-South cooperation, will therefore enhance China’s commitment and further contribution to the economic development and peacebuilding efforts of Liberia.

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