Build a community with a shared future: Xi Jinping

Mr Xi delivering a speech at the UN European headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland, on Wednesday. Nations should advance democracy in international relations and reject dominance by just one or several countries, he said.
Mr Xi delivering a speech at the UN European headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland, on Wednesday. Nations should advance democracy in international relations and reject dominance by just one or several countries, he said.PHOTO: REUTERS

Countries should jointly shape future; second time in 2 days that he says nations big or small are equal

Chinese President Xi Jinping has made a call for countries big and small to work together for a common goal of peace and development, even as some in the developed world are becoming more isolationist and protectionist.

Mr Xi's plea for openness and inclusiveness at the United Nations Office in Geneva on Wednesday came just two days before the United States inaugurates a president who promises that one of his first tasks will be to build a wall between his country and Mexico to stem the flow of illegal immigrants.

Mr Donald Trump has also pledged an "America first" foreign policy that helped sweep him to power last November.

Mankind is "in an era of numerous challenges and increasing risks" such as sluggish global growth and armed conflict, and non-conventional security threats like terrorism, the refugee crisis and climate change, Mr Xi noted.

In the light of these challenges and given that there is just one home for all, the earth, the world should come together to "build a community of shared future for mankind and achieve shared and win-win development", he said.

MOST VITAL NORM IN STATE TIES

The essence of sovereign equality is that the sovereignty and dignity of all countries, whether big or small, strong or weak, rich or poor, must be respected, their internal affairs allow no interference and they have the right to independently choose their social system and development path.

MR XI

"All countries should jointly shape the future of the world, write international rules, manage global affairs and ensure that development outcomes are shared by all," he told an audience that included UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres. "We should advance democracy in international relations and reject dominance by just one or several countries."

Mr Xi also made clear that sovereign equality was the most important norm governing state-to-state relations. "The essence of sovereign equality is that the sovereignty and dignity of all countries, whether big or small, strong or weak, rich or poor, must be respected, their internal affairs allow no interference and they have the right to independently choose their social system and development path."

He noted, too, that "big countries should treat smaller ones as equals instead of acting as a hegemon imposing their will on others".

This was the second time in two days that Mr Xi made the point that all nations regardless of size were equal. At the World Economic Forum in Davos on Tuesday, he said: "Countries, big or small, strong or weak, rich or poor, are all equal members of the international community. As such, they are entitled to participate in decision-making, enjoy rights and fulfil obligations on an equal basis."

Mr Xi also confirmed the role of the UN as the world's peacekeeper, even as Mr Trump has panned the world body as no more than "just a club for people to get together, talk and have a good time".

 

The Chinese leader spoke about building a new model of relations with other major powers based on respect for one another's core interests and major concerns.

"As long as we maintain communication and treat each other with sincerity, the 'Thucydides trap' can be avoided," he said, in reference to what is seen as the inevitability of war between an established power and a rising one, in the present-day case, between the US and China.

At the same time, Mr Xi also made the pledge that other Chinese leaders had made before him, that China would not seek hegemony.

Mr Guterres told Mr Xi it was "very reassuring to see China assuming such a clear leadership in multilateralism in today's world".

The Chinese leader returned to Beijing yesterday.

SEE OPINION: Xi's vision of governance and development

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 20, 2017, with the headline 'Build a community with a shared future: Xi'. Print Edition | Subscribe