The United Nations expects China to be at the forefront of efforts to tackle the world’s biggest challenges, such as the global food crisis, climate change and the quest to slash poverty, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said today, calling on the Asian nation to step up its contribution in international affairs.
Addressing students at the Foreign Affairs University in Beijing, at the start of the second leg of his East Asian tour, Mr. Ban said China is already playing an important role as a permanent member of the Security Council and as a growing contributor to peacekeeping and the UN budget.
“China will need to rise even higher in both rankings if we are to meet growing global challenges,” Mr. Ban said. “Today, the entire United Nations system expects China to help lead on the international agenda.”
The threats posed by the food crisis, global warming and soaring energy prices could jeopardize the entire international order, he warned, unless swift and united action is taken.
“Every country stands to lose from such an unravelling. But leading nations, like China, that have most at stake in the international system stand to lose the most.
“A global economic slowdown would affect this country’s manufacturing base. Continued climate change could deprive millions more of their homes. The global food crisis could result in grain shortages and social unrest.”
The Secretary-General stressed that while it may seem like an ambitious programme, all the major problems can be overcome if countries assert their common interests and ideals and work together through the UN.
“The United Nations is the natural forum for mounting this response. Our Organization provides a multilateral platform for implementing concrete actions on all fronts.”
Mr. Ban urged world leaders, including those in China, to take urgent steps on the food crisis, such as by providing immediate food assistance to those in need and by removing export restrictions and levies on food commodities.
Chinese business also has a critical role to play in devising and producing clean technology and renewable sources of energy that can be used to deal with climate change, he said.
Turning to the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), the series of anti-poverty targets which world leaders have agreed to try to achieve by 2015, the Secretary-General said China was well placed to make a difference, particularly in sub-Saharan Africa, which is struggling the most to meet the Goals.
“You are well on your way to becoming Africa’s largest trading partner. And you are lending support to African nations in areas as diverse as infrastructure development, agriculture, commercial exchanges and education and training.
“If this spirit of China-Africa cooperation is brought to bear on other challenges – such as food security and fighting HIV/AIDS – China can help propel Africa towards meeting the Millennium Development Goals, in full and on time.”
Mr. Ban arrived in Beijing today following his visit to Japan. Speaking to reporters at the National Press Club in Tokyo earlier today, he praised the country’s renewed commitment to the UN. Later in the trip he will visit the Republic of Korea before returning to Japan to attend the G-8 summit of major industrialized nations in Hokkaido.