50th anniversary of the restoration of China's lawful seat in the UN

By Opinion Time of article published Nov 4, 2021

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OPINION: A story of how a country can move, collectively – with vision and leadership – from poverty to prosperity, and with the determination and vision that China has, is remarkable.

BY Buyile Matiwane

IF we were to have a discussion about development, progress and governance over the past 50 to 60 years, there would be a handful, if any, stories that are comparable to the story of the Peoples Republic of China.

A story of how a country can move, collectively – with vision and leadership – from poverty to prosperity, and with the determination and vision that China has, is remarkable.

The story of China is, undoubtedly, the story of how each and every country can move from rags to riches, by investing in strong governance and having an unrelenting focus on the factors that underpin a development path suited to the specific national conditions of that country. This development path has made China a dominant global force and a factor that no one can afford not to take seriously, when considering the current and future balance of power.

This year China commemorates the 50th anniversary of the restoration of China's lawful seat at the United Nations (UN). Five decades ago, on October 25, 1971, the 26th session of UN General Assembly adopted Resolution 2758, deciding to restore all its rights to the People's Republic of China, and to recognise the representatives of its government as the only legitimate representatives of China to the UN. This was a victory for New China’s diplomacy, a victory for justice and fairness in the world, and a victory for the purposes and principles of the UN Charter.

I doubt anyone had realised the kind of impact that China’s participation would have over the next 50 years, and the impact this would have for the advancement of multilateralism, and the fight against poverty and inequality.

Fifty years on, China has proven to be a builder of world peace, a contributor to global development, a defender of international order, and a provider of public goods – shouldering due responsibility in safeguarding the common interests of human progress.

In line with this, we have seen China contribute the most troops for peacekeeping efforts, and providing necessary aid and development infrastructure for the development of many countries.

China also made and fulfilled quite lofty commitments in the fight against Covid 19 this year.

As a permanent member of the Security Council, China has set a good example in practising multilateralism. China has firmly upheld the international system with the UN at its core, the international order underpinned by international law, and the basic norms governing international relations underpinned by the purposes and principles of the UN Charter.

The UN, in this respect, has grown in leaps and bounds, as a bastion of hope and stability for the preservation of law and order, the world over.

As the second largest economy, China has made the biggest contribution to global growth for 15 consecutive years, and is the second largest contributor to UN regular budget and peacekeeping assessments.

What has always been a breath of fresh air, in the Chinese approach to multilateralism, is the commitment to win-win negotiations, and the aspiration to create a world order that materially and practically appreciates common and shared prosperity. Examples of this commitment can be found when closely examining the link between China’s own development, with the development of the whole world.

In relation to the current international crisis we are facing – the Covid-19 pandemic and its effects – China has provided, and is committed to providing, two billion doses of vaccines to the world by the end of this year.

In addition to donating US$100 million to Covid-19 Vaccines Global Access (Covax), China will donate 100 million doses of vaccines to other developing countries in the course of this year.

We all cannot celebrate the UN without appreciating its aim to promote common development, including providing strong support and aid, to developing and developed countries, the world over. In this respect, China has given support to more than 120 developing countries for their implementation of the Millennium Development Goal.

China actively advocates peaceful co-existence and win-win cooperation, and promotes the building of a community with a shared future for mankind, presenting China’s visions and solutions to meeting global challenge.

As China’s development agenda moves from a phase of generating wealth and alleviating poverty, to one that is about growing power – we hope that it will remain a force for good, and a remain a progressive neutralising agent in the sometimes perilous and inward looking global balance of power. As China grows in stature and authority, it must continue to appreciate and support the coordinating role of the UN.

China must be vigorous in its advocacy for progressive and responsible development, in the development of global macro policy framework, making global development more robust, greener and healthier and, together, building an open, inclusive, clean and beautiful world, that enjoys lasting peace, universal security, and common prosperity.

China’s story in the UN is one filled with more ups than downs. It is also written with the heated intensity of love for the people and for our common humanity. It hasn’t been easy sailing and much more needs to be done but, over the next 50 years – China will, undoubtedly, be a force to be reckoned with.

“By setting sail together, we could ride the wind, break the waves, and brave the journey of ten thousand miles.” – Xi Jinping.

* Buyile Matiwane is the deputy-president of the South African Students Congress (Sasco).

** The views expressed here may not be that of IOL.

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