Press Releases

    25 October 2005

    China's Ongoing Transformation, Leadership, Engagement with UN Give Real Cause for Optimism, Secretary-General Says in Message to Beijing Symposium

    NEW YORK, 24 October (UN Headquarters) -- Following is UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan's message to a symposium entitled "China and the United Nations", as delivered today in Beijing by Khalid Malik, United Nations Resident Coordinator in China:

    I am delighted to send my warmest wishes to all of you on the occasion of this symposium.  The engagement of Chinese leaders and institutions in the relationship between China and the United Nations is heartening to me as Secretary-General, given how crucial this relationship is to the Organization and its future.

    Today, as we celebrate 60 years of our United Nations, we must recognize that the world today is very different from that of our founders.  The United Nations must reflect this new age, and respond to its challenges -- including, first and foremost, the knowledge that hundreds of millions of people are left defenceless against hunger, disease and environmental degradation, even though the world has the means to rescue them.

    Last month, world leaders met at the UN in New York to try and forge a common response to these challenges.  At the 2005 World Summit, leaders of both rich and poor countries committed themselves to detailed policies which, if fully implemented, could reduce hunger and poverty by 50 per cent in the next 10 years.  They decided to create new UN bodies for promoting human rights and building lasting peace in war-torn countries.  They promised to fight terrorism in all its forms, and to take collective action, when needed, to save populations from genocide and other heinous crimes.  They decided on important reforms of the UN Secretariat.

    But on climate change and Security Council reform, there was not much progress.  On nuclear proliferation and disarmament, even less.

    This has left us a great deal of work to do.  Today, as we mark the sixtieth anniversary of our indispensable institution, I promise you that I will do my part.  And I count on Governments to do theirs.

    What China does, and how China fares, will have an increasingly profound effect on that process.  This is true of our ability to reach the Millennium Development Goals, as well as our capacity to provide multilateral solutions to international peace and collective security.

    China's ongoing transformation, its growing constructive global leadership, and its dynamic engagement with the United Nations give us real cause for optimism.  China is already on its way to meeting most of the Millennium Development Goals -- a set of simple, powerful, people-centred objectives, based on fundamental human needs, that every man and woman in the street, from Beijing to Buenos Aires, can easily understand and support.  I am particularly heartened by the close synergy between the Millennium Development Goals, on the one hand, and China's Xiaokang vision of balanced development and "putting people first", on the other.  This augurs well for China's fulfilment of the Summit commitment to have in place, by next year, national plans and strategies to reach the MDGs.

    That is good news not only for China, but for the entire international community.  Because of China's size, the way it performs on achieving the Millennium Development Goals will be crucial to how the world as a whole does in reaching them.

    Yet huge challenges remain.  Somehow, the rural poor must be enabled to share in China's amazing economic growth.  Urgent efforts are needed to fight the spread of HIV.  And measures to protect the environment are equally crucial.

    The United Nations family in China is working in close partnership with your Government on those and other challenges.  We are determined to help this great country realize the tremendous promise it holds.  I thank every one of you for your commitment, and wish you a most fruitful symposium.

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