Xi Calls For Greater Cooperation, Connectivity & Development Of The Health Silk Road At UN Virtual Summit: Comparisons With The US Position

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Op/Ed by Chris Devonshire-Ellis 

China has been virtually attending the 75th Annual Meeting with President Xi Jinping making a speech yesterday. In it, he outlined that China wished for global cooperation to defeat the Covid-19 pandemic and that connectivity between nations was key, stating No country can gain from others’ difficulties or maintain stability by taking advantage of others’ troubles.”

This theme continued with statements about building a community with a shared future in which everyone is bound together. We should reject attempts to build blocs to keep others out and oppose a zero-sum approach.” Xi further elaborated on this by making strong statements concerning global trade and the WTO.

China and Globalization

“Let this be clear: The world will never return to isolation, and no one can sever the ties between countries. We should not dodge the challenges of economic globalization. Instead, we must face up to major issues such as the wealth gap and the development divide. We should strike a proper balance between the government and the market, fairness and efficiency, growth and income distribution, and technology and employment so as to ensure full and balanced development that delivers benefit to people from all countries, sectors and backgrounds in an equitable way. We should pursue open and inclusive development, remain committed to building an open world economy, and uphold the multilateral trading regime with the World Trade Organization as the cornerstone. We should say no to unilateralism and protectionism, and work to ensure the stable and smooth functioning of global industrial and supply chains.” 

The US Position: The United States has been pursuing a policy of ‘America First’, issuing sanctions on competing countries industries and has threatened to withdraw from the WTO.   

China And Global Greening

He moved onto global ecology and stated that Covid-19 was an opportunity to engage in a global ‘Green Revolution’ and to move faster to create a green way of development and life, preserve the environment and make Mother Earth a better place for all. Humankind can no longer afford to ignore the repeated warnings of Nature and go down the beaten path of extracting resources without investing in conservation, pursuing development at the expense of protection, and exploiting resources without restoration. The Paris Agreement on climate change charts the course for the world to transition to green and low-carbon development.”

In doing so, he committed China to CO2 emissions level targets, stating that China aims to have CO2 emissions peak before 2030 and achieve carbon neutrality before 2060.”

The US Position: The United States has withdrawn from the Paris Agreement on Climate Change.   

China’s Health Silk Road & Covid-19

President Xi didn’t make any reference to this at his speech yesterday, but it was made in a “Joint Statement of the High-level Video Conference on Belt and Road International Cooperation: Combating COVID-19 with Solidarity” that was presented to the UN last month. The following points were made:

“We support mutual efforts in combating the COVID-19, and will cooperate to address, control and overcome the pandemic through the sharing of timely and necessary information, experiences and best practices for diagnosis and treatment of the COVID-19, strengthening and upgrading the capacity of public health system, promoting joint scientific research and international dialogues among health professionals, and providing assistance to countries in need. We encourage bilateral, regional and international mechanisms to jointly counter the COVID-19, where necessary.

We underscore that an equitable access to health products is a global priority. We are committed to enhancing the availability, accessibility and affordability of health products of assured quality, particularly vaccines, medicines and medical supplies, which are fundamental to tackling the pandemic. Along these lines, we welcome and appreciate mutual support and assistance offered among partner countries. We welcome the United Nations’ efforts to strengthen global humanitarian response depots, and welcome relevant countries to explore the possibility to set up regional reserve centers or units for rapid deployment of medical supplies or personnel. We believe that COVID-19 vaccines should be recognized as global public goods.

We call for investment in building sound and resilient health related infrastructures, including the development of telemedicine. We will provide necessary healthcare support for each other’s citizens affected by COVID-19 in our territories including the frontline health workers and those working for Belt and Road and other programmes within available national capabilities in line with respective national laws and regulations.”

The US Position: The United States withdrew from the global Covax research and development programme in May. 

China and Global Governance

Discussing the UN itself, Xi stated that “We should stay true to multilateralism and safeguard the international system with the UN at its core. Global governance should be based on the principle of extensive consultation, joint cooperation and shared benefits so as to ensure that all countries enjoy equal rights and opportunities and follow the same rules. The global governance system should adapt itself to evolving global political and economic dynamics, meet global challenges and embrace the underlying trend of peace, development and win-win cooperation.”

The US Position: The United States is a member of the UN, however has been withdrawing from some of affiliated bodies such as the World Health Organisation and security commitments to NATO. It is unlikely any major changes will take place however the US is becoming increasingly isolated in its position on global and regional issues. Its attempts to ‘snapback’ sanctions against Iran were defeated last week with just one nation, the Dominican Republic, supporting the US position. It remains unclear how Washington will react to a global body it no longer agrees with yet continues to fund to about US$10 billion per annum.    

China and UN Aid

President Xi announced that China would provide another US$50 million to the UN COVID-19 Global Humanitarian Response Plan, a further US$50 million to the China-FAO South-South Cooperation Trust Fund, and will extend the Peace and Development Trust Fund between the UN and China by five years after it expires in 2025. Xi also committed China to set up a UN Global Geospatial Knowledge and Innovation Center and an International Research Center of Big Data for Sustainable Development Goals to facilitate the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

The US Position: The US President made no financial or humanitarian commitments during his speech to the UN. 

The full text of President Xi’s speech can be read here


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Silk Road Briefing is written by Dezan Shira & Associates. The firm has 28 offices throughout Asia, and assists foreign investors into the region. For strategic advisory and business intelligence issues please contact the firm at silkroad@dezshira.com or visit www.dezshira.com