Participants call for true multilateralism, greater cooperation at int'l forum

(Xinhua) 16:00, December 06, 2023

GUANGZHOU, Dec. 6 (Xinhua) -- At the 2023 Imperial Springs International Forum held in Guangzhou, south China's Guangdong Province, participants from around the world voiced their support for true multilateralism and called for more cooperation to address global challenges.

With the theme of "Multilateralism: More Exchanges, Greater Inclusiveness and Cooperation," the event that concluded Tuesday attracted more than 130 participants from over 40 countries to discuss topics ranging from world economic recovery to global governance reforms.


The participants believe that under the current circumstances, the world needs more than ever to adhere to the core values and basic principles of multilateralism and follow the vision of extensive consultation, joint contribution and shared benefits in global governance.

Multilateralism not only conforms to the trend of world, but also represents an effective way to maintain peace and promote development, they said.

The theme of the forum shows the importance of multilateralism, as "unilateralism and protectionism have very negatively impacted peace, stability, and sustainable development," said Vladimir Norov, former secretary-general of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization and former foreign minister of Uzbekistan.

His remarks were echoed by Danilo Turk, former president of Slovenia and president of World Leadership Alliance-Club de Madrid.

Noting that the challenges the world faces today are complex and unprecedented, the former president said "our goal is one in which multipolarity is harmonized through the strength of multilateral institutions."

In the view of Vaira Vike-Freiberga, former president of Latvia, China has been a strong advocate and practitioner of multilateralism.

Recalling her personal experience as her nation's president, Vike-Freiberga, who is also co-chair of Nizami Ganjavi International Center, said one of the examples of China's practice of multilateralism is that it has treated large and small countries with equal respect.

Chau Chak Wing, president of the Australia-China Friendship and Exchange Association, said "the international situation is complex, and humankind is facing severe challenges never seen before."

The theme of this year's forum "sends a clear signal to the international community: it is necessary to overcome isolation through exchanges, resolve antagonism by promoting inclusiveness, and achieve development through cooperation," he said.


At present, the world economy is struggling to recover, anti-globalization sentiment is on the rise with surging unilateralism and protectionism. To address these problems, countries around the world should show solidarity and enhance cooperation, said the event participants.

Given the problems facing the world, the theme of this year's Imperial Springs International Forum is "well-chosen," said former Prime Minister of Belgium Yves Leterme.

Those problems "can only be addressed by more cooperation," he added.

Former President of Nigeria Olusegun Obasanjo agreed with Leterme.

Noting every country has its comparative advantage, Obasanjo said he believes that if countries work together, they can have not only economic recovery, but economic growth, which "helps everybody."

He called for global cooperation where "no country is left behind."

Taking the common challenge of climate change as an example, Zou Ciyong, deputy to the director general of the United Nations Industrial Development Organization, said "it is not only about one country ... but an issue concerning the future of humanity as a whole."

"We have to work together," said Zou, also the managing director of the Directorate of Technical Cooperation and Sustainable Industrial Development, stressing the need to address the issue through global cooperation.

"I think if one looks at what has happened in the world, gaps have widened," said Sean Cleary, executive vice-chair of the Future World Foundation. "Therefore, part of the challenge that we face is to find solutions to address those problems, among others."

"Now, if you look at what the Global Development Initiative addresses in that regard, it makes very tangible suggestions as to how those problems should be addressed," said Cleary.

What is now necessary is that other countries "need to get their heads around these proposals and determine what we can agree on and how we can improve the system going forward," he added.


Translating multilateralism into actions requires more exchanges among peoples and mutual learning among countries and civilizations.

"The foundation of friendly cooperation among all countries in the world lies in the people. We should continue to give full play to the unique and important role of people-to-people diplomacy in communicating with the world, deepening understanding, enhancing mutual trust, forging consensus, and promoting cooperation," the participants said in a statement released after the forum.

"I can see the forum is becoming one of the places for international dialogue and exchange ... Imperial Springs will take its place as an important venue," said Vike-Freiberga.

The former president of Latvia used a metaphor to describe the great importance and wide influence of people-to-people exchanges. "Imagine there is a center, and you have a lamp at the center, and its light is spreading out," she said.

Referring to the Global Civilization Initiative proposed by China, Cleary said "there are different civilizations with different cultural histories, so we have to find a way of respecting all of the cultural and civilizational diversity that make up the world."

Inclusiveness is very important, said Zheng Yongnian, board director of the Guangzhou Institute of the Greater Bay Area. "We should emphasize what China is doing is inclusive multilateralism."

(Web editor: Zhang Kaiwei, Liang Jun)


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