Working Together on Poverty Eradication, Promoting New Progress of South-South Cooperation
– Keynote Speech at the High-level Video Conference on Poverty Eradication and South-South Cooperation
H.E. Wang Yi, State Councilor and Minister of Foreign Affairs of the People’s Republic of China
26 September 2020
A very warm welcome to you all to this video conference.
This year marks the 75th anniversary of the founding of the United Nations (UN). It is also the fifth anniversary of the adoption of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. At this important moment, it is highly meaningful for China and the UN to co-organize this High-level Video Conference on Poverty Eradication and South-South Cooperation to renew unity and partnership and promote development through cooperation.
Today, we are joined by colleagues from Asia, Africa, Latin America and Oceania. Geographically far apart as we may be, as developing countries, we all pursue the same goal of poverty eradication and boosting the economy. We share the aspiration to achieve national prosperity and a better life for our people.
With COVID-19 still raging in the world, countries face the daunting task to beat the virus while stabilizing the economy and protecting livelihoods. I hope through candid discussions, we will inject fresh impetus to the solidarity and cooperation between developing countries to navigate this testing time.
According to World Bank projections, COVID-19 could cut global growth to minus 5.2 percent this year and push 70 to 100 million people into poverty. A UN report also warned about a first-time decline of the Human Development Index (HDI) in 30 years. These bleak numbers remind us that when a pandemic struck, no country can stay immune. Developing countries, due to weaker public health systems and shortages of medical professionals and supplies, have been hit hard by COVID-19. Developed countries, plunged into a ravaging pandemic and economic downturn, have slashed input in international development cooperation. The implementation of the 2030 Agenda would be all the more difficult, and the gap between the North and the South could be widened.
Trying times often reveal the strength of true friendship. In the struggle against imperialism and colonialism, we developing countries fought shoulder to shoulder to gain independence and liberation. Proceeding from our own national conditions, we took solid steps in national development. We have held high the banner of justice, and advocated a fair and equitable international order. In the progress of human society, South-South cooperation is playing an increasingly important role.
Now faced with once-in-a-century changes and COVID-19, we developing countries shall not waver in standing closely together. Nor shall we step back in our pursuit of development. We shall keep forging ahead as partners with common goals and aspirations. With that in mind, I would like to make the following proposals:
First, we need to focus on the 2030 Agenda as a central priority. Development is the foundation for peace and for human survival and dignity. COVID-19 has once again proved that greater progress in sustainable development will make us better prepared when crises struck. If the development deficit lingers, we will only find it harder to overcome the challenges ahead.
The 2030 Agenda is a master plan for national and international development cooperation. Under the current circumstances, the international community must take a “development first” approach, and place greater importance on the 2030 Agenda. Comprehensive, balanced and robust efforts should be made toward the 17 Sustainable Development Goals and 169 targets. We need to meet the challenges posed by COVID-19, and support the UN in galvanizing international efforts to build a new type of global development partnership that is more equal, more balanced, fairer and leaves no one behind. The Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) constitutes the world’s largest platform for international cooperation. It fits in well with the 2030 Agenda. We hope more developing countries will join us in the Belt and Road cooperation to build up connectivity for high-quality development.
Second, we need to work toward no poverty as our primary goal. Poverty confines human freedom and subdues development. It is the root cause of problems and conflicts in many countries and regions. As COVID-19 triggers a global recession, unemployment is surging across the world.
Faced with these difficulties and challenges, we must forge ahead more determined and make poverty eradication front and center. The Alliance for Poverty Eradication recently inaugurated by the UN offers us an opportunity to refocus global attention on poverty reduction cooperation, recommit resources to people’s livelihood areas, such as poverty eradication, education, health and infrastructure, and galvanize the necessary financial and technological support for developing countries. It is also imperative to end gender discrimination and bias in all forms, and create conditions for lifting women, who account for over half of the world’s poor population, from poverty. We need to share experience to shape targeted and effective poverty reduction policies. Using the master key of development, we could unlock the door toward no poverty.
Third, we need to work together for final victory in our battle against COVID-19. The most pressing task is to stem the spread of the virus. We must always follow a people-first approach and put saving lives above all else. We need to pool efforts, mobilize resources and do whatever we can to protect people’s lives and health. We need to strengthen international joint control mechanisms, speed up the research, development, production and distribution of vaccines and make them more accessible and affordable. We need to support WHO’s lead role in global response efforts and reject stigmatization or name-calling associated with the virus. We need to balance and coordinate COVID-control and economic recovery, open up fast tracks and green corridors for the movement of people and goods, and keep global industrial and supply chains secure and stable. Through such efforts, we could bring the global economy back on track at an early date.
The world can only defeat COVID-19 through solidarity and mutual help. People in many developing countries are still suffering from the disease. The developed countries and international organizations need to provide more emergency supplies, send more personnel, and deliver on G20’s Debt Service Suspension Initiative.
We need to garner more international support for Secretary-General Antonio Guterres’s call for a global ceasefire and humanitarian response plan. These efforts are essential in helping countries focus on epidemic response and overcome humanitarian difficulties. They will contribute to fostering a global community of health for all.
Fourth, we need to jointly galvanize South-South cooperation for a new era. South-South cooperation is a central part of developing countries’ endeavor to seek strength through unity. It is an invaluable asset passed down from one generation to the next.
Under the current circumstances, it is all the more important to uphold the spirit of solidarity and mutual assistance, and boost South-South cooperation through the G77, BRICS and other platforms to empower the collective rise of developing countries through South-South cooperation. In addition to further deepening cooperation in traditional areas such as infrastructure, energy and agriculture, we need to unlock the potential of cooperation in digital economy, 5G and other new fields and, through such cooperation, speed up economic restructuring and upgrading.
We need to jointly come up with ways to deal with data security risks and improve global digital governance. China recently presented its Global Initiative on Data Security, which hopefully can serve as a basis for international rules-making on data security.
We must unequivocally support multilateralism and uphold the UN-centered international system and WTO-centered multilateral trading system. We must reject unilateralism and willful exiting from international organizations and agreements, and defend developing countries’ legitimate rights and interests and development space.
We need to advance the reform of the global economic governance system, promote consultation, cooperation and shared benefits in global governance, and further increase the representation and say of developing countries in international affairs.
This year is the concluding year for the completion of the building of a moderately prosperous society in all respects and to end extreme poverty in China. Under the leadership of President Xi Jinping, we will overcome the challenges brought by COVID-19, and lift all rural residents living below the current poverty line out of poverty within this year, thereby meeting the target of eradicating extreme poverty set out in Agenda 2030 ahead of schedule. China’s achievements show that no country or nation are destined to be poor. China can end poverty, so can other developing countries.
Under the framework of South-South cooperation, China has provided over RMB 400 billion yuan of foreign assistance and built close to 3,000 complete projects. China has recently put together a selection of poverty reduction cases in the form of a book titled Eradication of Poverty: China’s Practices to share its experience with the world. The Chinese Academy of Sciences will release a report titled Big Earth Data in Support of Sustainable Development Goals (2020), which could be useful for countries that wish to better monitor and evaluate the implementation of Agenda 2030.
Facing the sudden onslaught of COVID-19, China launched an emergency humanitarian operation of a scale unseen since the founding of the People’s Republic. We have sent out 34 medical expert teams to 32 countries, and provided 283 batches of supplies to 150 countries and four international organizations.
China will fully deliver on the actions announced by President Xi Jinping at the 73rd World Health Assembly, namely, providing US$2 billion international assistance over two years, establishing a cooperation mechanism pairing up Chinese hospitals with 30 African hospitals, and setting up a global humanitarian response depot and hub in China.
As we speak, several Chinese COVID-19 vaccines are in Phase Ⅲ clinical trials. As they become available for deployment, these vaccines will be made a global public good and provided to developing countries on a priority basis.
At the General Debate of the 75th session of the United Nations General Assembly, President Xi Jinping announced further steps China will take, which include:
providing another US$50 million to the UN COVID-19 Global Humanitarian Response Plan.
donating US$50 million to the China-FAO South-South cooperation Trust Fund (Phase Ⅲ).
extending the Peace and Development Trust Fund between the UN and China by five years after it expires in 2025.
supporting the UN in setting up a UN global Geospatial Knowledge and Innovation Center and an International Research Center of Big Data for Sustainable Development Goals in China.
China will fully deliver these actions to make new contribution to global poverty reduction and development.
No matter how the international landscape may evolve, China will always be a staunch member of the developing world; it will stand firm with all developing countries, and remain their reliable friend and true partner. As long as we keep united and forge ahead together, the day will come when all developing countries will shake off poverty. Our South-South cooperation will shine even brighter in humanity’s march toward great development.