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China playing a key role as UN member
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By Wu Miaofa


This year China has made significant achievements as a member of the United Nations (UN). Playing the role of a participant, a constructor and protector of the international system represented by the UN, the nation has held high the banner of the UN Charter, carried out its independent foreign policies based on the philosophy of a harmonious world, persisted in strategic talks with other major powers, enhancing friendly relations with neighboring countries and strengthening and expanding good relations with other developing nations. China has shown the world the attitude of a "responsible major power".


The country took part in talks aimed at resolving such hot issues as the nuclear crises in the Korean Peninsula, Iraq, the Darfur issue in Sudan and the Middle East. Particularly noteworthy is that China has sent the largest number of personnel on peacekeeping missions.


China is a developing country, but it has solemnly promised to the developing world, first of all African countries, it would provide more aid to the best of its ability. It has also provided timely support to neighboring countries beset by disasters, and non-traditional threats.


In human rights, the country has made undeniable progress in more than one aspect, such as writing human rights into the Constitution, and continuously enriching the concept of human rights for the betterment of people. China has fully participated in all activities of the UN Human Rights Council, including the formulation of the council's framework and accepting its annual inspection of human rights conditions in all UN member states (be it developed or developing), in the spirit of pragmatism and constructiveness. And on the issue of climate change, China has introduced strong measures to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.


In 2007, China's UN diplomacy played an important role in the following five areas.


First in Africa it made unique contributions to mitigating the crisis in Sudan's Darfur region.


As global warming has accelerated in recent years, the desertification of Sudan's Darfur region has worsened, causing struggles among different nomadic tribes and ethnic groups over water resources that have been going on for centuries, to escalate. Because of the Western media, this problem was turned from one of a nation's stunted development into a "genocide" issue. And the Western media also slung mud at China, which had nothing to do with the problem.


China therefore proposed some strong measures. First, Chinese President Hu Jintao reached consensus with his Sudanese counterpart Omar al-Bashir on efforts to bring all parties involved together to resolve their differences through political dialogue as a start and then pave the way for eliminating the crisis.


Second, the Chinese government appointed a special envoy for China-Africa issues, who went to Darfur and learned first-hand of the situation in the region and made it known to the rest of the world.


Third, China spoke highly of the African Union's (AU) decision to put peacekeeping troops in the region, noting it was a textbook example of solving Africa's own problems through the African Union's peace mechanism.


Fourth, China's chief representative to the UN expressed the nation's opposition to the use of economic sanctions to solve this problem at relevant meetings of the UN Security Council, and pointed out sanctions would only exacerbate the already dire situation. At the same time, the Chinese government persuaded the Sudanese government to accept UN peacekeeping forces and join other African nations in forming a joint taskforce to resolving the issue.


Fifth, China did what it had promised to do with undeniable results. For instance, it quickly responded to a UN request and promised a 300-member peacekeeping contingent for Sudan's Darfur region, where more than 150 of them have already arrived.


Sixth, the Chinese government has sent emergency supplies to Sudan several times as a tangible contribution to easing the humanitarian crisis in Darfur.


Second, on the Koran Peninsula nuclear issue, China made outstanding efforts in gaining a breakthrough, and took a proactive part in resolving the Iran nuclear crisis.


It is no exaggeration to say China went to great lengths to help solve the nuclear issue of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK). It has always tied its own national interest closely to that of the international community, demanding resolutely the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula on the one hand, and opposing the indiscriminate use of sanctions that tend to complicate matters on the other, and unshakably insisting on resolving differences through negotiation. With unrelenting efforts by all six parties involved, a major breakthrough was finally achieved over the DPRK nuclear issue earlier this year. Currently the disabling of the Myongbong nuclear facility in the DPRK is progressing smoothly.


As for the Iran nuclear issue, China has been involved in the 5+1 (the five permanent members of the UN Security Council plus Germany) talks from the very beginning, standing against Iran's efforts to possess nuclear arms on the one hand and opposing sanctions against Iran and acknowledging Iran has the right to peaceful use of nuclear energy on the other. Due to its complexity, solving it has become more difficult than people originally thought. However, there is one principle China will make sure there is no compromise: absolutely no use of force. This standing of China's has won the respect of most nations, including Iran.


Third, on the issue of the Middle East, China abandoned the non-involvement attitude it often maintained in the past and joined major international efforts as a permanent member of the UN Security Council to resolve this thorny issue.


China began to shed its observer attitude around the time it appointed its first Middle East special envoy. He was soon seen shuttling between Palestine and Israel as well as between Arab nations concerned and the Arab League. Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi attended the latest international conference on the Middle East peace hosted by the US in Annapolis, Maryland and proposed several important initiatives.


Fourth, China attaches utmost importance to the issue of global warming and has taken strong measures to deal with it.


China has concluded through nearly 30 years of peaceful progress that development must be based on science or it would be impossible to sustain. A series of measures have therefore been implemented in the country in this regard. China has also attached great importance to the issue of global warming at the international level.


It was one of the first participating nations in the Kyoto Protocol and the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change and has set goals for the gradual reduction of greenhouse gas emissions according to its national condition. It maintains close cooperation with various countries on this issue and has been exploring the best way to develop green energy resources.


Earlier this year, President Hu Jintao raised several proposals at the APEC forum held in Australia on planting large forests and green slopes to alleviate global warning.


On December 3, Premier Wen Jiabao had an important phone conversation with UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon during the UN conference on climate change in Bali, Indonesia. He said climate change was a problem facing the whole of mankind and needs to be dealt with by the international community according to the principle of each contributing what it can and within the framework of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change and the Kyoto Protocol.


Developed countries should help developing nations build capabilities to deal with climate change while drastically reducing their own greenhouse emissions. Developing countries on their part should take whatever effective measures their national conditions allow to contribute to the global fight against climate change.


Ban spoke highly of the stance of China's and believed it was a proactive endeavor by the Chinese government to deal with the problem.


China maintains that reducing carbon dioxide emissions is the responsibility of all nations of the world, but not on an absolutely equal footing. In other words, developed nations should shoulder the lion's share of carbon emission reduction by dramatically cutting down their own emissions. China's insistence on sharing common responsibility with country-specific differences reflects the historical facts of global economic development and today's reality.


Fifth, China's UN membership fee has increased significantly.


China has maintained a proactive and responsible attitude toward the issue of UN membership fees since its economic reform and opening began almost 30 years ago. It has never delayed or deferred its membership fees which have increased in proportion to its comprehensive national strength, reaching 2.05 percent last year. This year China's UN membership fee rose by 40 percent, 2.05 percent to 2.67 percent. The increase is the largest for a single nation among all UN member states.


The author is a researcher with China Institute of International Studies


(China Daily December 24, 2007)

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