Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi Speech At The United Nations Sustainable Development Forum

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The global environment takes its place amongst geopolitical struggles

By Chris Devonshire-Ellis

China’s State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi attended the opening ceremony of the UN Sustainable Development Forum 2021 on Monday via video link and delivered a keynote speech to elaborate the importance of the Global Development Initiative proposed by President Xi Jinping last week. Wang’s speech is of note as it outlines some of the proposals and policy that China will push for at the upcoming, important COP26 meetings about the global environment in November.

Wang said that development is the eternal pursuit of human society. The world today is under the compounded impacts of the pandemic and profound changes across the world, both unseen in a century. Global economic recovery has been uneven. The implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development is confronted with new challenges. As the global cause for development stands at a crossroads, President Xi Jinping proposed the Global Development Initiative. He called on the international community to accelerate the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development for more robust, greener, and more balanced global development, and foster a global community of development with a shared future. This major Initiative has set out a blueprint for the development of countries and international development cooperation and pointed the way forward for global development and international development cooperation.

Wang said that the Global Development Initiative embraces the people-centered core concept. It takes the betterment of people’s well-being and realization of their well-rounded development as the starting point and goal, and endeavors to meet the aspirations of all nations for a better life. It focuses on development as the master key to addressing all problems and strives to solve difficult issues of development and create more opportunities for development, leaving no countries and no individuals behind.

The Global Development Initiative follows the guidelines of practical cooperation. The Initiative responds to the dynamics and urgent needs of global development, and has identified priority areas including poverty alleviation, food security, COVID-19 and vaccines, financing for development, climate change and green development, industrialization, digital economy, and connectivity. To this end, it has also put forward cooperation proposals and plans to translate development consensus into pragmatic actions to inject new impetus to the implementation of the 2030 Agenda.

The Global Development Initiative advocates the spirit of open and inclusive partnership. The Initiative is an important public good and cooperation platform that China provides to the international community. It is open to the whole world and welcomes the participation of all countries. It will form synergy with other initiatives including the Belt and Road Initiative, Agenda 2063 of the African Union,overview and the New Partnership for Africa’s Development. It will build consensus and pool together the strengths of multilateral cooperation mechanisms such as the UN, the G20 and BRICS as well as various sub-regional and regional platforms.

Wang’s comments underline the positioning that Beijing is taking in wanting to be seen to be a responsible partner in the global environment and sustainability. This essentially calls for greater cooperation with the United States, although not mentioned specifically. Attention to how these two powers approach the landmark Cop26 summit will be intense as in essence, Wang is correct, it requires international cooperation to resolve today’s problems. The question is whether Washington is prepared to meet Beijing halfway or if it will continue to maintain a relatively combative approach. Environmental considerations are beginning to take a place among geopolitical struggles with COP26 a keynote platform to gauge the extent of how far this has penetrated global positioning for power. Wang’s speech maintains that China very much expects to have its say. The US response in November will lay down the lines as how the coming decade will play out.

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