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Respect small states, practice true multilateralism: Chinese envoy

Updated:2022-04-29 09:36:45

China's permanent representative to the United Nations, Zhang Jun, on Thursday called for respect for small states and the pursuit of true multilateralism.

"In the face of various challenges and crises, we must stay committed to equality of all states regardless of their size, safeguard the authority and universal application of international law, and practice true multilateralism," he told a high-level roundtable on small states, multilateralism and international law.

The grave challenges for peace and development, intertwined with uncertainties and instabilities, are posing enormous pressure on countries, especially small states. In times of crisis, it is more important to realize that humanity belongs to a community with a shared future, he said.

"To address the challenges, we must stay committed to true multilateralism. If the current geopolitical conflict tells us anything, it is that true multilateralism has nothing to do with group politics, small cliques, bloc confrontation, or a new Cold War," he said.

"True multilateralism is about safeguarding the international system with the United Nations at its core. The purposes and principles of the UN Charter should be upheld. The sovereignty and territorial integrity of all countries should be respected. The rights of all countries to independently choose their social systems and development paths should be protected. And the legitimate security concerns of all parties should be guaranteed," Zhang said.

Despite their differences in size, strength and wealth, all states are equal members of the international community. This is a founding mission of the United Nations and the essence of multilateralism and international law. However, hegemony and power politics still exist. There is still a long way to go for democracy in international relations, he said.

"All too often, we see some countries, on certain occasions, say they respect the rights of other countries to choose their cooperation partners. Yet on other occasions, they make irresponsible slanders about other countries' normal interactions with third countries. It is unfair and unreasonable to ignore or even harm the interests of small states and force them to choose sides. This must be corrected through greater democracy in international relations," Chinese envoy said.

He stressed the importance of staying committed to the integrity and unity of international law.

International rules should be made with joint participation, and should be applied universally and impartially without exception. There shall be no double standards in applying international law, he said.

No country should abide by international law only when it suits its interests, and abandon it otherwise. International rules should not be made out of the will of a few countries and be forced on other. There is only one set of rules: the basic norms governing international relations underpinned by the purposes and principles of the UN Charter. All countries should follow these rules in good faith and together protect them, he said.

China's foreign policy has always been about equality. China is a true friend of small and medium-sized countries, and has always stood together with them. Small states make up the vast majority of the 193 UN members. They know exactly whether the multilateral governance system is fair or not. And they play an important role in climate response, sustainable development, and international rule of law. Therefore, in the work of the United Nations, the voices of small states must be heard, and their demands must be taken seriously, he said.

China stands ready to work with various countries to unite under the UN banner, uphold the purposes and principles of the UN Charter, seek mutual respect, mutual benefit and common development, and safeguard the authority and effectiveness of multilateralism and international law, so as to jointly safeguard world peace and tranquility, said Zhang.

The high-level roundtable was hosted by the Permanent Mission of Singapore in commemoration of the 30th anniversary of the Forum of Small States, which serves as an important platform for small states to discuss issues of common concern, exchange views and coordinate positions. The forum currently has over 100 members.