24 May 2006

"UN Family Looks Forward to An Ever More Engaged Partnership With China", Secretary-General Says in Remarks at Peking University

NEW YORK, 23 May (UN Headquarters) -- Following is the text of today's remarks by UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan to students at Peking University, in Beijing, China:

Da Jia Hao!  I am delighted to be here.  The engagement of Chinese students in the relationship between China and the United Nations is of tremendous importance and interest to me as Secretary-General.  It is a relationship that is crucial to the future of the UN.  As China's leaders of tomorrow, you have a key role in shaping it.

What China does, and how China fares, will help determine how the world as a whole meets the challenges of the twenty-first century.  And China's ongoing transformation, its growing constructive global leadership, its dynamic engagement with the United Nations, give us real cause for optimism.

Your country has achieved a rate of economic growth that is the envy of countries around the world.  You have made progress in reducing poverty -- progress on a scale that is unprecedented in human history.  Through trade and investment, China is building bridges across the globe.

You are playing a pioneering role in cooperation with other developing countries, whether through projects abroad or through the generous provision of training here in China.  And you are at the forefront of many global health efforts, as we saw when you hosted the international pledging conference on avian and human influenza earlier this year.

China's performance will have an increasingly profound effect on the ability of the world as a whole to reach 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 Bamako, can easily understand and support.

China is already on its way to meeting most of the Goals.  I am heartened by the close synergy between them and China's Xiaokang principles for balanced development, with both visions based on the fundamental principle of "putting people first".

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/AIDS.  And measures to protect the environment are equally crucial.

Many of those are challenges in which you have a crucial role to play.  In particular, we cannot win the war against AIDS without the leadership of you, the young people of China.

But China's advancement is not limited to the field of economic and social development.  Your country is becoming increasingly engaged in the work for multilateral solutions in international peace and collective security.

As host of the six-party talks on the nuclear issue on the Korean Peninsula, China has played a crucial role on this pressing issue.  China's ongoing leadership will be essential to ensure that multilateral diplomatic efforts result in a Peninsula free from nuclear weapons.  We cannot allow the current stalemate to continue.  All parties will need to redouble their efforts.

Whatever path you choose to take when you leave this campus, you will enter a world shaped by globalization.  What happens in one country affects another.  Epidemics, environmental degradation, nuclear proliferation and terrorism challenge us all.  Scientific breakthroughs, information technology, economic integration have the potential to benefit us all.

The biggest challenge facing your generation is to ensure that globalization becomes a force for good -- a force that works not only for the privileged few, but for all humankind.

As China plays an ever more active role on the world stage, your impact on institutions with global reach and global mandate will become more and more decisive.  Institutions that will establish and uphold international norms and standards, while promoting the international rule of law.  Institutions like the United Nations.

One crucial set of norms to uphold is the protection of human rights.  I congratulate China on its recent election to the new Human Rights Council.  Now it is time for China and other members of the Council to find ways to ensure the protection of the human rights of all people in every country in the world.

The UN family looks forward to an ever more engaged partnership with China in the years to come.  Here at home, we are determined to help your great country realize the tremendous promise it holds.  And in the international arena, we can provide an essential platform as China continues to go global.

The range of issues that I have discussed with the Chinese leadership on this visit shows the breadth of the Chinese role in the world and the importance of China's engagement with the UN.  We discussed the fundamental importance of multilateralism and the irreplaceable role of the UN, as well as the need to deliver concrete reform results on everything from the development agenda and the Millennium Development Goals to peacebuilding, strengthening human rights work, management reform, the mandate review and counter-terrorism.

We also discussed China's support for Africa, for peace operations, and the need for ongoing leadership on global health challenges including HIV/AIDS, Avian Flu and malaria.  We spent a good deal of time discussing non-proliferation and disarmament, including the importance of the NPT regime and the specific situations on the Korean Peninsula and in Iran.  We also recognized the serious developments in the greater Middle East, including the situations in Israel and Palestine, Iran, Iraq and Syria/Lebanon.

My discussions with President Hu Jintao and other leaders reinforce my optimism about China's willingness to work for the strengthening and cumulative consolidation of constructive and cooperative ties within and beyond your neighbourhood.  During my current visits to the region, I have observed that the ties that bind China, Japan and the Republic of Korea are deep and multi-layered.  The interaction among businessmen, intellectuals, artists, students and public personalities has risen dramatically in recent years.  People-to-people contacts are becoming a way of life.

I am also encouraged by the desire of leaders in all three countries to have better relations.  Working together on common challenges can help accelerate this process.  On this trip, I have suggested that the three countries pool their efforts together on issues of common concern.  As a start, this could include protecting the environment in this part of the world.  They could also combine their efforts to advance a Green Revolution in Africa.  All of this could help pave the way for improved relations, and in so doing help them to realize their immense individual and collective potential.

I am also heartened by commitment of all three countries to multilateral action, and by their desire for a stronger and more effective United Nations.

On all the issues confronting us, we look forward to working together with young people like you, who represent the future of China.  Your determination will be crucial as you build on the achievements of your leaders.  And China's future is fundamental to the future of the world.

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