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At start of visit to China, UN chief highlights partnership for peace, stability

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon (left) meets with President Xi Jinping of China.
UN Photo/Evan Schneider
Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon (left) meets with President Xi Jinping of China.

At start of visit to China, UN chief highlights partnership for peace, stability

Meeting with Chinese leaders in Beijing today, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon discussed a range topics central to the agenda of the United Nations regarding peace and security, human rights and development, as well as the situation in Syria and the Korean peninsula.

In talks with President Xi Jinping, Mr. Ban commended China for its commitment to multilateralism, its strong support to the United Nations and the country’s expanding role and contribution to Organization’s work, including its engagement in addressing climate challenges.

China, one of the world’s biggest greenhouse gas emitters along with the US, announced earlier this month that the two nations would cooperate on phasing down production of a group of synthetic chemicals known as Hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) – in products such as refrigerators and foams.

During today’s meeting, Mr. Ban invited the President to participate in a leaders' summit on climate change that he intends to convene next year at the UN Headquarters in New York.

The Secretary-General also commended China for its leadership in promoting the eight anti-poverty targets known as the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and its own achievements in this area, notably on poverty reduction and reducing infant and maternal mortality rates. He also commended China for its contributions to UN Women and gender empowerment.

In terms of regional stability, Mr. Ban thanked President Xi for China’s “crucial role” in helping to reduce tensions on the Korean Peninsula.

During a separate meeting with Minister of Foreign Affairs Wang Yi, Mr. Ban also thanked China for its contribution to supporting UN humanitarian efforts in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK).

Turning to Syria, Mr. Ban and Mr. Wang discussed the recent G8 summit in Northern Ireland, which concluded yesterday with leaders of the world’ leading industrialized countries calling for peace talks to be held as soon as possible to resolve the ongoing conflict.

During the meetings with the Chinese leadership, the Secretary-General also stressed the particular importance of China’s participation in UN peacekeeping efforts, and thanked the country for its commitment to sending peacekeepers to the new UN mission in Mali known as MINUSMA.

China is deploying a contingent to Mali that includes engineers, medics and security personnel.

As of May, some 1,645 Chinese nationals comprised police and UN military experts in missions. Thousands others have served in missions over the years with 14 Chinese peacekeepers killed in the line of duty.

China provides more peacekeepers to UN missions than all of the four other permanent members of the UN Security Council – France, Russia United Kingdom and United States – combined.

The Secretary-General stepped briefly away from his schedule to express outrage at today’s deadly attack on the UN compound in the Somali capital, Mogadishu. He spoke by telephone with Somalia’s President, Hassan Sheikh Mohamud, and said he was deeply concerned by the “despicable” attack.

He urged the President to ensure that UN staff are protected, according to a read-out of the conversation, and said the Organization would not be deterred from delivering its mandate.

Earlier in the day, Mr. Ban visited China’s Peacekeeping Military Training Centre where he stressed the need to address new threats and operate in increasingly difficult environments through the ongoing support from the international community to the “blue helmets”.

“Successful peacekeeping demands sustained political and material support from the Security Council… from countries that contribute troops and police personnel… and from those who contribute funds to our operations,” Mr. Ban urged.

Mr. Ban noted the increasing use of asymmetrical threats, such as the use of suicide bombs and improvised explosive devices are “not new to the UN, but they are more intense.”

“The new operations in DRC or Mali do not mark a doctrinal shift away from the core principles of peacekeeping,” Mr. Ban said, adding that “rather than a ‘revolution,’ we are seeing a possible ‘evolution’ in UN peacekeeping.”

In a meeting with General Fang Fenghui, the Chief of General Staff of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army, Mr. Ban thanked the General for his consideration of training more peacekeepers from developing countries.

Today’s discussions also touched on human rights issued. The Secretary-General said he welcomed the progress reported to the UN Human Rights Council during China's last Universal Periodic Review. He said he hoped China's second review in October could give momentum to its engagement with the international human rights system.

The Geneva-based Council’s Universal Periodic Review subjects each country’s human rights record to a State-led peer review on the basis of information submitted by the country concerned, UN entities, civil society and other stakeholders.