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China looks back on highly productive UN Security Council presidency in November

(Xinhua)    10:25, December 05, 2018

UNITED NATIONS, Dec. 3 (Xinhua) -- China's United Nations (UN) Security Council presidency for November has has been highly productive, with a focus on multilateralism, peacekeeping in Africa and a trip of Security Council members to China.

The Security Council had a very busy and fruitful month and the Chinese presidency has contributed to maintaining international peace and security, said Ma Zhaoxu, China's permanent representative to the United Nations, at the end of the Chinese presidency.

In November, China presided over 35 council meetings, and oversaw the adoption of six resolutions and seven Security Council press statements, he said at a press conference on Thursday.

DEFENDING MULTILATERALISM, BOOSTING ROLE OF UN

At a time when nationalism and populism are on the rise in some parts of the world, the need for multilateralism has never been greater.

The open debate on multilateralism on Nov. 9 attracted leaders of major UN agencies, including the UN secretary-general, the acting president of the General Assembly, the president of the Economic and Social Council, and the president of the International Court of Justice. More than 70 countries and international organizations were represented at the event.

"Both developing countries and developed ones regarded multilateralism as a must. They have reaffirmed their commitment to the purposes and principles of the UN Charter and called on the parties to uphold multilateralism, strengthen the UN, maintain the rules-based international order and jointly meet global challenges," Ma told reporters.

The world is getting more complicated and no one country alone can solve the many global challenges, he said, adding that it is against this backdrop that multilateralism is becoming more important.

At the open debate, which was held just days before the 100th anniversary of the end of World War I, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said that it was the lack of multilateral mechanisms for international problem-solving that led to the great tragedy.

It took World War II to trigger the multilateral arrangements of today, which have had a proven track record in saving lives, generating economic and social progress and avoiding a third descent into a world war, he said.

He said the world must learn from the bitter lessons of WWI, and practice multilateralism to pass the tests and counter the threats of today and tomorrow.

"As 21st-century challenges threaten to outpace 20th-century institutions and mindsets, let us reaffirm the ideals of collective action while pursuing a new generation of approaches and architecture capable of responding," he said.

IMPROVING PEACEKEEPING IN AFRICA

The Security Council, first and foremost, is about international peace and security. This year marks the 70th anniversary of UN peacekeeping, a lot of which is directed at Africa.

Half of the 14 UN peacekeeping operations are in Africa, including the five largest ones. Of the 20 major troop-contributing countries to UN peacekeeping, more than half are African.

It was against this background that the Chinese Security Council presidency arranged another flagship event in November: peacekeeping in Africa.

Recalling the Nov. 20 open debate, Ma, the Chinese ambassador, said the event was warmly welcomed by member states.

Representatives from more than 50 countries and international organizations made statements and put forward suggestions to improve peacekeeping in Africa, he said.

At the debate, Guterres asked for support for peacekeeping in Africa, saying conflicts in Africa threaten global security.

"In our interconnected age, security challenges on one continent present a risk to the whole world. The factors that drive conflict in Africa, including poverty, youth unemployment, climate change, competition for resources, and transnational crime, threaten global security," he said.

Improving the impact and effectiveness of peacekeeping in Africa is a collective responsibility, he said.

China is playing an increasingly important role in UN peacekeeping. The country is the second-largest contributor to the UN peacekeeping budget and a contributor of troops and police officers.

It was against this backdrop that the Chinese presidency invited ambassadors of the Security Council members to visit China in November.

SECURITY COUNCIL MEMBERS IMPRESSED BY CHINA VISIT

The council members had a "very rich and intensive" program in China, visiting the three cities of Beijing, Guangzhou and Shenzhen, said Ma.

The council members visited a peacekeeping standby force and had face-to-face exchanges with the soldiers. A workshop was held among the council members, the soldiers and some experts, which focused on UN peacekeeping challenges and steps that can improve the operations, he said.

Through their trip to the southern Chinese cities of Guangzhou and Shenzhen, they gained a better understanding of China's reform and opening-up policy, which was initiated 40 years ago.

"Both Guangzhou and Shenzhen were the pioneers of practicing this policy. ... The members visited several companies there to see the high-tech industry and the links between China and the world," said Ma.

The China visit also facilitated extensive and in-depth exchanges among the members, he said. "It's important for the members to have an opportunity to discuss issues of common concern in a free and relaxed atmosphere."

The exchanges are beneficial to enhancing the mutual understanding and trust among the member states, "which is the foundation of our work in the Security Council," said Ma.

CULTURAL SIDE EVENT STUNS AUDIENCE

As a side event, a music and dance production presented by the world-renowned China Disabled People's Performing Art Troupe was held at the Lincoln Center in New York City on Nov. 6.

The show dazzled viewers, including UN officials and diplomats, and received a standing ovation.

The troupe members, either with hearing or vision disabilities, performed a repertoire of both Chinese and Western songs and dances, including Chinese folk songs, Peking opera, a bamboo flute solo, a string duet, and a Latin dance.

The climax was "Thousand-hand Bodhisattva" performed by about two dozen artists, featuring the "countless" agile and all-reaching arms of the Buddhist goddess who is popular in Chinese religious culture.

UN General Assembly President Maria Fernanda Espinosa said the troupe members "are cultural ambassadors of goodwill among peoples, dignity and respect as well as inclusion."

She appreciated the disabled performers' choice to inspire and motivate through arts and beauty "in a world often filled with negative headlines."

"As a poet, I am very much impressed by the artists' self-confidence and their show will inspire us in facing the global challenges ahead," she said.

Before the show, Ma said the troupe artists "have brought to the world the beauty of arts as well as the strength of life."

(For the latest China news, Please follow People's Daily on Twitter and Facebook)(Web editor: He Zhuoyan, Bianji)

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