It was a serendipitous occasion that while the order of speakers at the plenary session of the UN General Assembly is chosen at random, that Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi was scheduled to speak directly after his Russian counterpart Sergey Lavov.
This gave the world the opportunity to see just how united Russia and China are on the most important elements of modern geo-political affairs and peace keeping issues.
Foreign Minister Wang opened his speech by praising the role of the United Nations for preventing full-scale wars which dominated the first half of the 20th century.
He then praised the development of the multi-polar world which he characterised as the domineering force in modern global cooperation.
Wang stated that Chinese President Xi Jinping’s “win-win” model of coopeation is a key to helping build a more peaceful world and one where prosperity is shared more evenly and fairly across nations.
Below are the key issues covered by Wang Yi
Syria and terrorism
The Chinese Foreign Minister praised the work of international partners in both the Geneva and Astana peace formats for Syria. He further stated that a “holistic” approach is necessary to fight international terrorism and that such measures should not resort to double standards nor must the world associate terrorism with any one ethnic group or religion.
This was a stark contrast to Donald Trump who singled out so-called “radical Islamic terrorism” during his UN speech.
Wang placed a great emphasis on the ongoing quest for Palestinian statehood, justice and human rights. He stated that. He said that it was a bad sign that after 70 years on the UN’s agenda, that Palestine was still not able to realise its restored statehood.
Wang said that the international community owes Palestine a just solution and that illegal Israeli settlement building should be stopped immediately.
He also said that new talks on the UN endorsed two-state solution must restart immediately.
Wang Yi began his discussion on North Korea by reminding his audience that in 2005, China, Russia, Japan, North Korea, South Korea and the United States came together to formalise agreements on the de-nuclearisation of the Korean peninsula. These agreements entailed a commitment from Pyongyang to cease its production of nuclear weapons materials and a commitment from the US to normalise relations with the DPRK.
Wang stated that notions that the situation has dramatically changed since then are fallacious and that it is as important now as ever to work constructively in this format.
The Chinese Foreign Minister said that Beijing calls on North Korea not to “go further along a dangerous direction” while calling on the US to honour its commitments from 2005. Wang stated that China opposes nuclear weapons in either Korean state.
He concluded this segment of the speech by saying that the US and North Korea ought to compromise and meet half way in order to facilitate peace and stability in East Asia.
One Belt–One Road
Wang praised the Belt and Road Forum in Beijing which was held in May of 2017 as it resulted in “270 deliverable agreements between nations”.
He stated that the One Belt–One Road initiative helps to connect different civilisations which helps countries learn from one another and benefit from one another without compromising the unique character of every civilisation.
He stated that next year China will host an international import exposition which will help highlight the work being done by partners along One Belt–One Road while injecting fresh impetus into sustainable development goals.
A call for peace
Wang Yi stated that “China is always a fore for peace”. He then praised China’s historic role which has avoided colonialism and one which never resorted to forcing its own policies on others, something associated with the western powers. Wang stated that “aggression is not in the Chinese genes” and that China will constantly vote for peace from its permanent position on the UN Security Council.
Wang affirmed China’s commitment to multilateralism on all fronts, including in efforts to battle climate change such as the Paris Agreement which the US has withdrawn from under Donald Trump.
Wang said that China will always respect the equality of all nations and that globalisation should never be understood as a competition between “west and east”. Instead all countries must follow the same rules and not dominate others using force or the “law of the jungle”.
While Donald Trump used his speech to decry socialism, Wang stated that the past five years of development for China have been “momentous” thanks to the guiding policy of “socialism with Chinese characteristics”. He said that socialism with Chinese characteristics has not only guided China’s internal development but has haled made China an “anchor for world piece”.
In many respects, Wang Yi’s speech was deeply similar to that of Sergey Lavrov, who spoke just before him. Both Foreign Ministers rejected the militarisation of the Korean conflict, both affirmed a position in favour of a just settlement for Palestine, both emphasised a commitment to positive interactions and a respect for the rule of international law in a multi-polar world and both expressed commitments to peaceful initiatives for international cooperation.
In this sense, the ‘eastern’ side of the multi-polar world spoke with a clear and unified voice.