President Xi Jinping addresses the general debate of the 76th Session of the United Nations General Assembly via video link on Sept 21, 2021. (SPENCER PLATT / POOL PHOTO VIA AP)
The Global Development Initiative, proposed on Tuesday by President Xi Jinping at a United Nations event, has drawn praise from leaders, officials and scholars.
They said this major initiative constitutes a fresh Chinese solution to advancing sustained global growth, economic recovery and narrowing the disparities among countries amid the ravaging COVID-19 pandemic.
Xi unveiled the initiative while addressing the general debate of the 76th Session of the United Nations General Assembly on Tuesday via video link. He said it was in order to "steer global development toward a new stage of balanced, coordinated and inclusive growth".
He urged countries to stay committed to six areas: prioritizing development, a people-centered approach, benefits for all, innovation-driven development, harmony between man and nature, and a commitment to results-oriented actions.
In a follow-up to Beijing's previous pledges on peaking carbon dioxide emissions before 2030 and reaching carbon neutrality before 2060, Xi announced that China "will not build new coal-fired power projects abroad".
The country "will step up support for other developing countries in developing green and low-carbon energy", he said.
President Xi Jinping unveiled the Global Development Initiative while addressing the general debate of the 76th Session of the United Nations General Assembly on Tuesday via video link. He said it was in order to "steer global development toward a new stage of balanced, coordinated and inclusive growth"
Also, he called for cooperation in fields including poverty relief, vaccines, the climate and the digital economy, "so as to build a global community of development with a shared future".
United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said in a statement that he was "encouraged" by Xi's announcement regarding the commitment to climate action, and he called for "decisive action" by all countries, especially members of the G20, to effectively contribute to emission reductions.
Zou Ji, CEO and president of Energy Foundation China, said Xi's announcement "manifests the broad vision of a major country that bears the world in mind", and it marks the country's fresh contribution in supporting fellow developing countries' energy sustainability with green, low-carbon energy.
The annual UN general debate was held amid concerns over global economic prospects.
The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development lowered its 2021 global growth forecast on Tuesday by 0.1 percentage point to 5.7 percent.
Antoinette M. Sayeh, the International Monetary Fund's deputy managing director, warned on Tuesday that "a worsening of the pandemic, combined with inflation concerns, could inflict a double blow to many emerging and developing economies".
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When elaborating on the Global Development Initiative, President Xi underscored "the special needs of developing countries", calling for the use of tools such as debt suspension and development aid to "help developing countries, particularly vulnerable ones facing exceptional difficulties".
He urged "emphasis on addressing unbalanced and inadequate development among and within countries", and said nations should "foster new growth drivers in the post-COVID era and jointly achieve leapfrog development".
United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said in a statement that he was "encouraged" by President Xi's announcement regarding the commitment to climate action, and he called for "decisive action" by all countries, especially members of the G20, to effectively contribute to emission reductions
The Global Development Initiative includes China's successful experience in building a moderately prosperous society, and echoes the desire among nations for an even better life, said State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi.
Xi's proposal on the initiative will help countries to focus on growth and bolster unity, and "is conducive to gearing up efforts for realizing the UN 2030 Sustainable Development Goals", Wang said.
Xi's speech has been hailed by many countries' UN representatives for "pointing out the way forward for the world and injecting confidence and strength", said Zhang Jun, China's permanent representative to the UN.
The fresh proposals made by Xi, particularly the initiative, "reflect the common expectations of the international community, especially the vast number of developing countries" and serve as a Chinese solution when the world is at a critical crossroads, Zhang said.
Mutual respect key
This year marks the 50th anniversary of the restoration of the lawful seat of the People's Republic of China in the UN.
At the start of his speech, Xi said this was "a historic event that will be solemnly commemorated by China".
He reiterated China's lasting pursuit of world peace and harmony, and highlighted the key elements of international relations such as mutual respect and justice.
"Recent developments in the global situation show once again that military intervention from the outside and so-called democratic transformation entail nothing but harm," Xi said.
He underscored the need to advance the common values of humanity of peace, development, equity, justice, democracy and freedom, and called for rejecting "the practice of forming small circles or zero-sum games".
Xi noted that differences and problems among countries need to be handled through dialogue and cooperation on the basis of equality and mutual respect.
"One country's success does not have to mean another country's failure, and the world is big enough to accommodate common development and progress of all countries," he said.
Muhammad Abdul Basit, a Pakistan-based political scientist focusing on international relations and sociopolitical issues, noted that COVID-19 and climate change remained the key issues at the UN General Assembly's gathering.
"President Xi Jinping focused on cooperation and supporting the UN in every possible way to uphold the banner of true multilateralism. Win-win cooperation is of benefit to the whole world rather than lose-lose confrontation," the Pakistani scholar said.
Jan Yumul in Hong Kong and Hou Liqiang in Beijing contributed to this story.
HONG KONG NEWS