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UN at 75: Multilateralism Not An Option But a Necessity




Seventy-five years on, as the United Nations (UN) marks its anniversary at a time of great worldwide upheaval – compounded by growing unilateralism and the virus crisis – upholding the international system with the world body and rejecting unilateralism and the winner-takes-all mindset has become more relevant than ever before.

“Multilateralism is not an option but a necessity as we build back a better world with more equality and resilience, and more sustainable world,” the 193-member UN General Assembly (UNGA) said in a declaration concerning the coronavirus pandemic, which threatens not only global health but also the world economic development.

Indeed, this year’s COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated global geopolitical trends, including the struggles to uphold multilateralism in a climate of growing nationalism, protectionism and rising great power competition. Yet, even before the global health crisis, multilateralism was already under risks as tensions in trade, technology and foreign relations between China and the U.S. escalated.

Ties between the two big nations have deteriorated further in recent months, while the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic cries for deeper and broader multilateral cooperation among countries just when we need it the most.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres speaks during the 75th annual UN General Assembly. /Reuters

China advocated multilateralism at the UNGA, vowing that “the world will never return to isolation, and no one can sever the ties between countries.” Many heads of government, including Germany’s Angela Merkel and South Korea’s Moon Jae-in, shared the plea by China for a revival of multilateralism.

U.S. President Donald Trump has shown his skepticism of multilateral frameworks in many occasions since he came into power. He pulled the U.S. out of the Paris Agreement on Climate Change, the World Health Organization (WHO), and stopped funding the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees – the list can go on and on which makes the rest of the world worry about isolation and a “new Cold War.”

Zhang Jun, China’s ambassador to the UN, said in the UN Security Council that “the U.S. should understand that a major power should behave like a major power.”

The fight against the virus and economic downturns should not be politicized and that “no country can gain from others’ difficulties,” said Zhang.

In a foreseeable future, anti-globalization and attempts at economic and technology decoupling, which started long before COVID-19, will not disappear soon. Multilateral cooperation at most of the world organizations such as the UN, the WHO and the World Trade Organization will face growing instabilities and setbacks. The U.S. election in November may push the U.S. to implement more competitive strategies towards China. The targets – the South China Sea, Hong Kong, and Taiwan – would disturb regional economic and security order.

U.S. President Donald Trump in NATO Secretary General for the NATO summit in Brussels in 2018. /AFP

“The very nature of the relations between China and the U.S. has changed. The competition is the new theme after 40 years’ development of China. Given the external environment is becoming more complicated in recent months, the uncertainty of multiculturalism increases,” said Wang Yong, director of the international relations department of Peking University.

“The ‘abc’ mindset – anything but China – is quite popular in Washington right now. Anything about internet security, technologies and economies, especially trade, is threatened. I would say we should be prepared for the worst situation,” he said.

The WHO urges countries to quickly join its global shared vaccine programs. /AFP

Even surrounded by concerns lingering over the strengthening of unilateralism and protectionism on the back of the continuing spread of the virus, China’s voice is loud and clear in defense of multilateralism and global collaborations. Wang said that it is obvious that world governance would benefit most countries, and clashes can only leave serious collateral damages.

“A complete separation of the world’s two largest economies cannot happen,” said Chen Deming, former minister of Chinese commerce ministry, at a seminar in New York in June. He believes the tensions between the two countries could worsen, but there is “enough space” for the world to continue to find a way to have win-win partnerships.

In addition, COVID-19 has brought global attention to food and health security. The virus vaccine programs will need regional and international cooperation. Joint efforts in research and studies need to link various regional organizations as well as the UN system. Major powers like China and the U.S. can always play key roles in such interdependent actions.

“The relations between the two big boys must be stable, which means ‘complete decoupling is almost impossible,’ and collaborations in multiple levels and areas would be back to the right track, sooner or later,” said Wang.

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WHO Spokesperson Reveals Details Of Its Expert Team Visit To Wuhan




Even as vaccines are rolled out, COVID-19 continues to ravage the world, having caused nearly 2 million deaths. The situation is in dire need of stronger global cooperation. That spirit can be at least reflected by the latest World Health Organization (WHO) expert team’s visit to China which will start in Wuhan, where the first cases of infections in China were reported.

“This is about understanding what happened so that the world can be better equipped as the world to prevent it happening again,” said WHO spokesperson Margaret Harris in an exclusive interview with CGTN host Tian Wei. She stressed that the field trip is “not about finding someone to blame. Let’s leave the politics out of it.”

Dr. Harris revealed that preparations about the mission started last October. There were a few virtual meetings held since then. This trip will be about a wide variety of subjects related to the discovery research of the origins of COVID-19. While no quick answers are expected.

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The WHO team of 10 experts from 10 different countries are expected to visit the Chinese city Wuhan, where cases of infections were first reported at the end of 2019. Yet later discoveries found the presence of the virus in Spain, Italy and the U.S., demonstrating how much is still unknown about the virus.

While the world is bogged down by this pandemic, there appear a few COVID-19 vaccine candidates that have been developed at unprecedented speed. But that very fact has made people uneasy: was it developed too fast? Are those vaccines trustworthy?

“People should be concerned about the safety issues,” noted Dr. Harris, but she explained that one thing that has really slowed down vaccine development in the past was getting the funding for the studies, and this time that part got ample support.

Harris said that only after very careful review of data on issues of safety and efficacy, and visiting manufacturing factories, would the WHO put a vaccine on its Emergency Use Listing (EUL). So far only the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine received the validation at the end of last year, but more announcements could be made as soon as in the next few weeks, according to Harris. Among those are candidates coming from Sinopharm and Sinovac, two Chinese vaccine developers.

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The COVAX program was set up by the WHO with GAVI, the vaccine alliance, to help distribute vaccines to more countries. China joined COVAX last year.

Out of the 42 countries that are rolling out COVID-19 vaccines, 36 are high-income countries and six middle-income countries. “So there’s a clear problem that low- and most middle-income countries are not receiving the vaccine yet,” said WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus earlier this month.

“We are not happy that it’s not happening quickly enough,” said Harris, “but we determined to make it happen.”

World Insight with Tian Wei is an international platform for debate and intelligent discussion. It is the meeting point of both the highly influential and rising voices, facilitated by host Tian Wei. It provides nutrition to form your own thoughts and ideas through a 45-minute live debate and interviews.

Schedule: Monday-Saturday

Time (GMT): 1415, 2015

(If you want to contribute and have specific expertise, please contact us at

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AIIB Fifth Anniversary Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank Celebrates Fifth Anniversary With Eye On Green Post-Pandemic Recovery




The Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, known as the AIIB, is celebrating its fifth anniversary. Today, the organization has doubled the number of members it had when it launched in Beijing back in 2016, making it the second largest of all multilateral banks. In the face of new global challenges, not least of all COVID-19, the AIIB is currently undergoing a transformation. Feng Yilei has more.

The Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank is re-thinking its strategy, from financing traditional infrastructure, to looking ahead to the future.

The international development bank has identified key emerging infrastructure trends that will drive the future of investment in previously overlooked areas.

The new focus? Infrastructure that is green and human-centred, with an eye on technology while enhancing connectivity.

The shift takes place in the context of COVID-19, which experts say has exposed weaknesses in infrastructure of many economies.

JIN LIQUN President of AIIB “At this juncture, it is important to point out that efforts to foster our health system as well as address climate change can no longer be dealt with in silence. We need to promote the intricate emerging pattern of the relationship between climate and health care problems. Rebooting the global economy will require that we no longer tackle challenges in isolation.”

The AIIB’s plans are laid out in its “Next-10-year Corporate Strategy” which establishes clear priorities and ambitious targets in its overall share of financing-50 percent for climate action by 2025, 25 to 30 percent for cross-border connectivity by 2030, and 50 percent for private sector operations by 2030.

In the medium-to-long term, the bank’s next chapter includes not just expanding into social infrastructure, but also ramping up investment in digital infrastructure, especially in less-developed regions.

JIN LIQUN President of AIIB “New infrastructure development boosted by new technologies will bring for immediate benefits and pay off in the long term. Global trade will eventually open up, and those countries who invest smartly would be ready to capitalize on those opportunities. Indeed, there will be, in my view, and overhaul of the existing structure to meet the needs of the digital era.”

As global policy makers struggle with the current global health crisis and its immediate aftermath, experts say it is imperative for multilateral development banks, such as the AIIB, to work with the private sector to mobilize much needed investment.

They say a key challenge is to leverage more international capital from the private sector or commercial banks that eye returns.

JIN LIQUN President of AIIB “To a certain extent, it’s not so easy to find common ground, but it’s possible. Private sector investors may not necessarily look at the highest returns when they know that by working with MDBs, actually, they have safety of their resources. And also with enhanced responsibility, they would love to work with MDBs.”

FENG YILEI Beijing “Over the past half a decade, the president of the AIIB says he has witnessed the progress in terms of how development bank operates, including its policies, regulations, staffing and institutional environment.”

Challenges brought about by the pandemic have accelerated change in the overall development of multilateral development banks. The AIIB says it has gained critical experience and the opportunity to further evolve its business model, to play a central role in the stability of global finance. Feng Yilei, CGTN, Beijing.

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What Drives China’s Success In 2020?




factors driving China’s success in its epic battle against COVID-19 pandemic and poverty last year.

‘People first’

Under Xi’s command, the constant theme of China’s war against coronavirus has been “people first.”

“The people’s safety and health always come first, and thus the prevention and control of the outbreak is the country’s most important work for now,” said Xi on his meeting with visiting World Health Organization (WHO) Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus last January.

Stressing CPC is the most reliable backbone for Chinese people in times of trouble, Xi ordered the use of the entire country’s resources to tackle the pandemic, which is also an advantage of China’s socialist system.

As a result, China has emerged among the first countries to contain the virus, reopen the economy safely, and restore economic growth. The country’s GDP is expected to exceed 100 trillion yuan (about $15.38 trillion) in 2020, with per capita GDP reaching $10,000.

Meanwhile, China has sent 36 medical expert teams to 34 countries and offered help for 150 countries and 10 international organizations to fight the virus, echoing President Xi’s call for building a community of common health for mankind.

The COVID-19 vaccine will be made a global public good, which will be China’s contribution to ensuring vaccine accessibility and affordability in developing countries, Xi announced in May at the opening of the 73rd session of the World Health Assembly.

‘No one should be left behind’

On November 23, as southwest China’s Guizhou Province cleared all the names on its poverty list, China had eradicated absolute poverty and regional poverty.

At a symposium on securing a decisive victory in poverty alleviation in March, Xi said lifting all rural residents living below the poverty line out of poverty by 2020 is a solemn promise made by the CPC Central Committee and it must be fulfilled on time.

Xi put poverty relief center in front of his governance and spent the most energy on it. During his domestic inspections last year, Xi often went to the frontline to supervise poverty relief efforts.

“No one should be left behind on the road of socialism,” Xi said in May. “Everyone should be on the path toward a moderately prosperous society in all respects and common prosperity.”

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