China at the UN: 50 Years of Contributions to Humanity, Global Peace & Development

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Monrovia – China epitomizes resilience and globalization. The Asian nation endured a turbulent past but in the last five decades, it made groundbreaking progress, solidifying its place as a contributor to global peace, humanity, and multilateralism.

History remembers China for being a staunch believer of global cooperation evident by being a founding member of the United Nations back in 1945. But China would later be removed from the United Nations following diplomatic disagreements as to the “lawful representation” of the Asian nation.

Back then, some countries deemed the “Republic of China” as the representative of the Chinese people at the General Assembly while others pushed for the People’s Republic of China to become the true representative since the PRC represented the interest of the vast majority of Chinese at the time.  

In what appeared to be a contention, the “important question” theory then surfaced to make the determination by member states.

Amid the maneuvering by major global powers at the time, on October 25, 1971, the 26th UN General Assembly rejected the “important question” with an overwhelming majority of 76 votes for, 35 votes against and 17 abstentions. That famous decision then saw the restoration of the People’s Republic of China as the “lawful representative” of the Chinese people at the UN.

In recounting the incidents leading to that milestone 50 years ago, the Chinese Foreign Ministry recently described that landmark decision as a “breakthrough in China’s diplomacy”, adding that it was a “complete failure of the anti-China forces in their attempt to block the restoration of the lawful rights of the People’s Republic of China in the United Nations”.

It has been 50 years since the vote was taken and China continues to flourish from all fronts leaving impressions on many developing nations while also contributing to the transformation of human lives. So far, China has solidified itself as a global leader in various sectors of human development and global corporation.

To commemorate this historical feat, Chinese President Xi Jinping in his recent address to the UN General Assembly smartly recounted the support his nation received from other countries during the “protracted struggle” to see China get back its rightful place at the UN.  

“The restoration of New China’s lawful seat in the United Nations was a momentous event for the world and the United Nations. It came as the result of joint efforts of all peace-loving countries that stood up for justice in the world. It marked the return of the Chinese people, or one-fourth of the world’s population, back to the UN stage. The importance was significant and far-reaching for both China and the wider world,” said Chinese President Xi in his message to the UN.

Xi expressed “heartfelt gratitude” to all countries that supported China’s restoration to the global body and was also very upbeat about his nation’s progress in the last five decades, stressing that they have enjoyed “peaceful development” and remains committed and “dedication to the welfare of all humanity”.

“For these 50 years, the Chinese people have demonstrated an untiring spirit and kept to the right direction of China’s development amidst changing circumstances, thus writing an epic chapter in the development of China and humanity,” he said.

Further recounting China’s support, he outlined the sending of over 50,000 peacekeepers to UN peacekeeping operations making the country the highest contributor to UN peacekeeping missions amongst the five permanent members of the Security Council.

China is also the first country to successfully meet the UN Millennium Development Goals, and a leader in the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development which accounts for over 70 percent of global poverty reduction. 

This is no ordinary account. For example, in the last 50 years China has lifted over 700 million of its people out of poverty, and the growth of the Chinese economy as the second largest in the world demonstrates the magnitude of progress the Chinese people have made.  

On the global development front, China is playing significant leadership role in spurring globalization through its signature Belt and Road Initiative while progress of the multilateral collaboration with Africa through the Forum on China Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) is being etched in the pages of history as some of foremost modern infrastructure projects the African continent has seen.

“From the Tazara Railway to the Belt and Road Initiative, we have done what we could to help other developing countries and have offered the world new opportunities through our own development,” President Xi said.

Here in Liberia, China’s fingerprints are everywhere. From the Fendall Campus of the University of Liberia to the Ministerial Complex in Congo Town, the Jackson F. Doe Hospital in Nimba County, the modern terminal at Roberts International Airport, and the new annex at the office of the Legislature on Capitol Hill, China is proving to be a pivotal development partner for the West African nation.

China has also significantly enhanced the level of human resource capacity for many Liberians. In the last two decades, scores of Liberians have acquired tertiary education at top Chinese universities, and they have returned to contribute to nation building, which has been direly needed following the end of the civil crisis in 2003.

China also contributed immensely to the restoration of peace and stability in Liberia following the end of civil hostilities by sending peacekeepers to support the United Nations Mission in Liberia, and when Ebola struck the West African nation back in 2014, China again stepped forward and was the first international partner to build a modern Ebola treatment unit at the Samuel Kanyon Doe Sports Complex in Paynesville.

On the diplomatic front, Beijing has upheld its non-interference approach over the last five decades and as President Xi puts it rightly in his speech, China opposes “hegemony and power politics”, adding that “the Chinese people are a strong supporter of other developing countries in their just struggle to safeguard sovereignty, security and development interests”. 

This principle was again stressed in 2018 during the FOCAC summit in Beijing where the Chinese leader announced that his country was prepared to give Africa US$60 billion in new development financing but with “no political string attached”. Diplomatic experts have argued that China’s policy is efficient and welcomed by many African nations because it is a getaway from “neo-colonialism” and a renewed diplomacy that encapsulates a win-win approach.

Meanwhile, China is aware of the fast changes happening in the world. So, it continues it contribute to sustained growth of peace, development, and progress of the world. And the Chinese leader again re-affirmed in his address to the UN this year that it is the obligation of all nations to ensure the world remains peaceful and safe through corporation.

“It falls upon us to follow the prevailing trend of history, and choose cooperation over confrontation, openness over seclusion, and mutual benefit over zero-sum games,” he said. “We shall be firm in opposing all forms of hegemony and power politics, as well as all forms of unilateralism and protectionism”.

No matter the enormous challenges the world continues to endeavor with developing nations even more challenged with diversity of problems, China’s progress tells a story that require emulation by other developing nations. From a nation susceptible to poverty and foreign interferences to the second largest economy in the world with significant powers to contribute to world peace and development, China is a best example of a complete moderate prosperous nation.   

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