Minister promotes peace in UN speech

Updated: 2011-09-27 11:19

By Zhang Yuwei (China Daily)

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UNITED NATIONS - China will stay on the path of peace and development and seek mutual respect with other nations in international relations, said Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi at the annual United Nations General Debate in New York on Monday.

Yang started by welcoming South Sudan, a recent addition to the UN and the 193th member state. He said nations should seek common progress by having an open mind of creating "common ground while reserving differences".

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"We should respect the right of each country to pursue the development path of their choice, and respect diversity of civilizations," Yang said.

He urged the international community to continue its support to South and North Sudan and said China has encouraged both to "resolve dispute through peaceful negotiations".

"(China) will continue to work with the international community in pushing forward regional peace, stability and development," Yang said.

He said China fully supports Palestine's recent application for UN membership.

"China consistently supports the just cause of establishing an independent Palestinian state and supports Palestine's membership in the United Nations," Yang told the Assembly.

Yang added China backs "political negotiation" to achieve a two-state solution between the Palestine and Israel.

Palestinian President Mahmud Abbas submitted the application for UN statehood on Friday. The UN Security Council is expected to meet on Wednesday to decide whether to refer Palestine's membership bid to the admissions committee, a move objected by the United States and Israel. As one of the five permanent members of the council, the US is likely to veto the vote.

Yang said stability and development should go hand in hand. He also called for progress in talks between Israel and Syria and Lebanon to reach a "comprehensive, just and durable peace in the Middle East", and urged the international community to "handle the Syrian issue in a prudent way so as to prevent further turbulence in Syria and its repercussions on regional peace."

The US and some European nations have pushed to impose UN Security Council sanctions on Syria for its conflicts between the Syrian government security forces and anti-government protesters. But Russia and China, two of the five permanent members of the council, may veto the vote.

Yang said China hopes parties in Syria will "exercise restraint, avoid any form of violence or more bloodshed and conflict, and act quickly to ease tension."

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton urged China to back strong UN action against Syria when she met with Yang Monday morning just before his speech, the French news agency AFP reported.

On Libya, Yang said China respects the choice of the Libyan people and recognizes the (opposition) National Transitional Council as the governing authorities and the representatives of its people. China supports the UN's role in helping Libya achieve peace and will continue to support the post-war rebuilding of Libya, Yang said.

On food security in Africa, Yang said China recently made a contribution of $70 million - including emergency grain aid to the Horn of Africa and a $16 million donation to the World Food Program to support famine-relief operations in Somalia. He said it is the largest amount of grain assistance in Chinese foreign aid since New China was founded in 1949.

On Saturday, Yang attended a ministerial mini-summit on humanitarian response to the Horn of Africa, an area that has been suffering from severe drought and famine.

Yang also stressed China's support to UN peacekeeping activities and China's increasing engagement in those in the past decade. China is currently the largest contributor of peacekeepers to the UN among the five permanent members of the Security Council, he said.

Stressing that the Six-Party Talks is a constructive way to resolve the nuclear issue on the Korean Peninsula, Yang said China supports the recent dialogues between the US, Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) and the Republic of Korea (ROK), and China calls for an early resumption of the Six-Party talks.

Commenting on Yang's speech, John Feffer, co-director of Foreign Policy In Focus at the Institute for Policy Studies in Washington, said China has been more engaged in international issues to ensure regional and international security and that helps China's self-interest and "increasingly China's self-interest is global in scope".

"China has been concerned about the Middle East for some time, largely because it depends so much on energy from that region. More recently, however, China has become more diplomatically engaged. Beijing's support for Palestinian statehood will likely boost its image in the region," Feffer said.

Feffer said China is also a cautious player.

"Cautioning prudence on Syria just as it abstained from approving the no-fly zone for Libya earlier this year. Like most big powers, China values stability above all else," he added.

"It doesn't want political or military turmoil to threaten its energy imports or its overseas investments. When it first emerged as an economic superpower, China focused on exerting its influence bilaterally," Feffer said.

Yang made the speech while attending the 66th UN General Assembly where he had a series of bilateral and multilateral meetings. The annual gathering brings together heads of state and government from 193 UN member states.

On the sidelines of UNGA, Yang also attended the global counterterrorism forum, co-chaired by the US and Turkey, where he stressed China, as one of the 30 founding members of the forum, is committed to playing an active part in global anti-terrorism.

China Daily