The partnership between the United Nations and China was in the spotlight today in Shanghai where just-arrived Secretary General Ban Ki-moon met with President Xi Jinping and Minister of Foreign Affairs Wang Yi before outlining key global challenges at the city’s premiere institute for the study of international politics, economy and security strategy.
“This is a time of enormous challenge,” Mr. Ban told an audience at the Shanghai Institute of International Studies (SIIS). “I look to China to provide global leadership, and I look to all of you to provide ideas and encouragement.”
The UN chief, who arrived in China Sunday, highlighted in his speech the conflicts in Syria, Central African Republic, South Sudan and Ukraine, as well as the maritime tensions in Asia.
“We must never forget that all tensions are best resolved through dialogue and in accordance with the principles enshrined in the UN Charter,” he urged.
He noted some long-term risks and trends, among them growing inequality, the rise of intolerance and prevalent injustice which all contribute to the aggravating insecurity.
“The impacts of climate change are being felt already and will affect generations to come,” he said, noting that key resources are in progressively shorter supply.
To overcome these and other challenges, the UN “must rise to the moment”, he said stressing that a series of efforts will be crucial over the next 18 months, the deadline to reach the anti-poverty targets known as the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).
“One of the goals was to cut poverty and hunger by half by the year 2015,” he said. “Thanks in large measure to China; the world has met that ambition years in advance.”
The international community is now shaping a post-2015 development agenda which “will allow us to focus on sustainable development as a model for the global economy,” said the top UN official.
China’s role in sustainable development was also discussed today during a bilateral meeting between Mr. Ban and President Xi. A UN spokesperson said Mr. Ban also expressed gratitude for China’s “strong support and contribution” to the UN’s work to promote peace and security, and human rights.
Among the specific issues covered, the two leaders discussed issues related to the Korean Peninsula, and the situation in Myanmar.
In an earlier meeting, Mr. Ban and Foreign Minister Yi agreed that there was a need to work together on issues related to human rights and the “Every Woman, Every Child” initiative to improve the health of women and children around the world, as well as climate change.
“We all know what scientists and the public are telling us. It is in all our interest to address climate change now!” he stressed in his remarks to SIIS.
China is “on the frontlines of the fight,” Mr. Ban added, with new carbon markets, large investments in renewable energy and strong new laws on pollution.
Senior Chinese representatives are due to participate in a climate summit at the UN Headquarters in New York in September where Mr. Ban said he is “calling on all leaders to be on the right side of history.”
Tomorrow, Mr. Ban will participate in the opening ceremony of the Fourth Summit of the Conference on Interaction and Confidence Building Measures in Asia (CICA).
The two-day conference, which will be attended by many of the regional leaders, is themed around increasing dialogue, mutual trust and collaboration to build a new Asia. Unconventional security issues are also expected to be on the agenda, according to media reports.
Mr. Ban is also due to visit the capital city of Beijing during his stay in China.
The SIIS, the venue for today’s speech, was chosen in part due to its partnership with the UN Development Programme (UNDP). SIIS is an academic partner of UNDP for the Second Global Governance Forum to be held this October.