United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has said he is looking forward to speaking with Chinese government officials and young Chinese on their collective involvement in world affairs, as one of the top issues on his agenda ahead of his arrival in Beijing today.
The UN chief said he hopes China will work more closely with the UN on global issues, including the environment.
"As the most populous country and fastest-growing economy, China has a global responsibility now," Ban said in an interview last week with New York-based journalists from major Chinese media organizations.
"As a global power, you should be more proactive in addressing global interests. There are many global issues affecting humanity, climate change, millennium development goals, health, the environment and how to maintain sustainable economic development," he said.
"As secretary-general, I'm going to lead this campaign and I expect that China's people and government will actively participate, commensurate with your economic development and political responsibility," Ban said.
The UN chief is on a two-week, three-nation official visit to East Asia. He arrived last Saturday in Kyoto, Japan, where a major climate change treaty was forged more than a decade ago.
He is scheduled to give a speech at the China Foreign Affairs University following his arrival in the Chinese capital today.
Ban will also meet with President Hu Jintao, Premier Wen Jiabao and Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi tomorrow, after visiting AIDS patients and touring Olympic facilities and venues.
The UN secretary-general expressed his confidence at a successful Olympics five weeks before the opening of the international sporting event.
"I'm quite confident that the Chinese government and people will make this Olympics the most successful one ever," Ban said.
"This Olympic Games should be used as a venue where all people of the world can enjoy fair competition and demonstrate great athletic skill, but at the same time this should be the venue where we can promote harmony, friendship and mutual understanding transcending all ideologies, ethnicities and national or geographic boundaries," he added.
Ban also recalled his trip to the epicenter of the Sichuan earthquake in late May.
"I was very touched and saddened by what I saw at the epicenter of the earthquake," he said.
"At the same time, I was very much impressed by the efficiency in managing and overcoming this natural disaster, through the leadership of President Hu Jintao and Premier Wen Jiabao.
"This is an exemplary case. China is a modern country that implemented a formal frame of action.
"It is (also) very encouraging that the Chinese government, Republic of Korea and Japan have agreed to a tripartite frame of disaster reduction and preparedness," Ban said.
His trip will culminate with his participation at the annual summit of the Group of Eight (G-8) industrialized countries in Hokkaido over the weekend.
Ban said he feels that the Hokkaido G8 Summit is being held at a time when the international community is facing many global challenges.
On rising global food prices, Ban detailed the UN's efforts to address the needs of developing countries and increase world food production.
During a high-level meeting of the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) held from June 3-5 in Rome, leaders of the international community already agreed to address the global food crisis by focusing on the immediate needs of many developing countries.
They also agreed to invest more in agriculture and rectifying trade practices that affected the market.
Following this pledge, Ban said he has established a high-level task force comprised of all relevant UN agencies - the FAO, the International Fund for Agricultural Development, the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund, among others.
"Under this high-level task force, we have prepared a comprehensive framework for action which contains guidelines and many recommendations for the UN member states," he said.
"This also provides guidelines and recommendations to meet the immediate, original needs of poor countries and farmers."
(China Daily July 1, 2008)