Xi Jinping to push multilateral line in UN’s virtual meetings

22-Sep-2020 Intellasia | South China Morning Post | 10:03 AM Print This Post

Chinese President Xi Jinping will use this week’s virtual meetings of the United Nations to again underline the need for multilateralism, according to the foreign ministry.

“As Xi attends these events, he will state China’s positions on important issues like international relations, economic globalisation, governance of global ecology, and facilitating global women’s rights,” ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin said on Monday.

The UN is marking its 75th anniversary this year but all of the meetings associated with the annual gathering will be held via video link.

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The United Nations is meeting via video link this year. (AP)

The United Nations is meeting via video link this year. (AP)

Wang said Xi would speak at a wide range of events, including the anniversary commemorations, a summit on biodiversity and a conference on women.

But analysts said China’s multilateral message might be undermined by promise fatigue.

“China has always tried to present itself as a supporter of multilateralism, but I’m afraid it will take substantial and accurate policies to convincingly tackle real world problems at this time,” Renmin University international relations specialist Shi Yinhong said.

Shi said that to drive home the message Beijing might need to make bigger contributions on a wide range of issues, including vaccine development, global food supply and climate change.

“China so far has limited vaccine supplies to largely bilateral channels and made decisions based on its ties with specific countries, be it the Philippines or Indonesia,” he said, adding that such policies might compromise China’s rhetoric on defending multilateralism.

In July, after Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte said he would not confront Beijing over maritime disputes in the South China Sea, China said it would give the Philippines priority access to coronavirus vaccines.

The announcement prompted criticism that Beijing was using the vaccines as diplomatic tools.

The criticism is part of a broader international backlash against China over geopolitical and human rights issues.

While US President Donald Trump is expected to use his speech to the UN to attack China, Shi from Renmin University said Beijing needed to walk a fine line in defending itself.

“China needs to defend itself against Trump’s attacks on issues including the pandemic, but it can’t overdo it or it could leave the impression that it’s using multilateralism as a weapon against the US,” he said.

Trump already used his speech at last year’s general assembly to attack China’s trade practices.

Ni Feng, a US specialist at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, said this year’s assembly was likely to attract much less attention because of the special arrangements under the pandemic.

“Lots of speakers will not show up at the scene and state leaders won’t have the same chance to meet in person,” Ni said. “So I guess the attention on this year’s assembly will be much less than previous years.”




Category: China

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