By Zhao Jiaming, Ma Xiaoning, Zhang Huizhong –Beijing (People’s Daily) – Before his departure to the 2018 Boao Forum for Asia in Hainan, United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, who is visiting China at the invitation of President Xi Jinping, had an exclusive interview with People’s Daily on Monday.
Guterres said he was impressed with Xi’s comments about securing people’s sense of fulfilment in both domestic and global governance. He said the claim of building a community with a shared future for mankind, pioneered by Xi, is an important contribution to the world.
Guterres also said that the UN is undergoing reforms to improve work efficiency to better serve the people around the world.
Peace and development are the two major goals for the UN and achieving development and spreading peace are the fundamental roots for overcoming global challenges. During the 70th Anniversary Summit of the UN in 2015, Xi announced the establishment of China-UN Peace and Development fund to support the development of multilateralism. The fund sponsored and helped multiple departments of the UN on dozens of projects.
Guterres praised China’s partnership with the UN, saying that China is the backbone of multilateralism since the country actively participates in global development and cooperation, while also working to explore and solve global challenges with the international community for the global governance mechanism.
Guterres also said he was happy to participate in the 2017 Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation in Beijing. He said the summit was an effective way for China to discuss the challenges of globalization. He said the Belt and Road policies are bringing peace to the region and that he looks forward to the expansion of cooperation between the UN and China in the future.
With 2,400 active peacekeepers in dangerous areas around the world and an additional 8,000 standby peacekeepers in its ranks, China is the largest troop contributor to the UN and its second largest provider of funds.
When it comes to China participating in UN peacekeeping operations, Guterres said he remembers every detail clearly. Guterres said the UN’s peacekeeper troops in their stylized blue helmets create a recognizable image for the organization. Guterres said he appreciates the fact that China is committed to supporting the UN’s peacekeeping efforts and its actions on strengthening global peacekeeping operations.
At the 70th UN General Assembly on September 28, 2015, Xi made the solemn pledge that China will join the new UN Peacekeeping Capability Readiness System and form an 8,000-member standby peacekeeping force. China has since honored its commitments.
During Guterres’s first official visit to China as UN Secretary-General, he was able to visit China’s peacekeeping force training center, which is the largest of its kind in Asia. It was regarded by Guterres as a showcase of China’s contribution to world peace. He also believes that China will play a leading role in the UN’s peacekeeping system in the future.
As several international issues – such as the Korean Peninsula, Syrian crisis, the war in Afghanistan – are hot topics in the news, people are also starting to see the positive influence that China has on international and local issues. China recently played a key role in starting talks for the denuclearization of the Korean peninsula when the country hosted North Korean leader Kim Jong-un in March.
Guterres said China is important for peaceful talks between North and South Korea and will play a major role going forward. Guterres said that China was “irreplaceable” in these peace talks, and that war would have happened if a similar issue happened elsewhere in areas like the Southern Pacific or Africa.
Guterres made his first visit to China in 1984 and made several more visits through the years under different positions.
He witnessed the dramatic changes that China went through after practicing Reform and Opening-up policies for 40 years.
As the former head of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, Guterres said the Chinese government has helped millions of people by eradicating poverty. He said the sheer size of poverty alleviation was impressive and unique.
Today, China is about to start a historic undertaking as it aims to promote a fully open economy with a broader view, a higher requirement, and more powerful actions.
Guterres said he expects to hear China’s new reform and innovation measures to the world and how the country’s development and improvement will benefit its people during Xi’s keynote speech at the Boao Forum.
As China play a role of growing importance in the world, its people are also becoming concerned for issues including climate change, wildlife protection, and humanitarian actions. Guterres said he is glad to see China’s youth becoming involved in these issues.
To show his support for Chinese culture, Guterres attended a Beijing Opera during his visit. He said one of China’s most unique aspects is its ability to absorb positive characteristics from other nations and cultures to make itself better through this integration.
Guterres said the positivity of Chinese culture is worth learning for the entire world, since they can learn the importance of peace, communication and mutual understanding from them.
These traits are especially important in modern times, as global communities are facing more and more challenges, he noted.
(Compiled by Ryan Yaoran Yu and Terry Guanlin Li)