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Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon

Beijing (China)

01 July 2008


Address at Foreign Affairs University

[As prepared for delivery]

Mr. Chancellor, Members of the Faculty, Distinguished guests, Dear students,

Ni Men Hao! Thank you all for this warm welcome. It is always a pleasure for me to come to China and to see firsthand its ongoing transformation. Today, I am especially honoured by this opportunity to speak to all of you -- the current and future faces of China in the world.

There is a common saying that this will be the Asia Pacific century. It is certainly true that what China does, and how China fares, is profoundly and increasingly significant to the world at large. Your country's economic progress, its growing leadership on global issues, and its dynamic engagement with the United Nations all give us true cause for optimism.

As this great nation grows in stature and prominence on the world stage, it will turn ever more to the graduates of this university to serve the needs of the country and increase its engagement in the outside world.

This is a task that I know you will all be well prepared for. Your academy is the cradle of Chinese diplomacy; an institution that has firmly established itself as an authoritative forum in active and inter-active discussions on issues concerning China and its expanding role in the international community. Indeed, it is in these great halls that some of the China's finest minds first get together to discuss and dissect the global challenges of our time -- challenges where the role of China will be critical in the next few years.

It is about those global challenges I want to speak to you this afternoon -- issues that might affect not only China's peaceful development, but also the international order underpinning our collective drive towards global prosperity.

Ladies and gentlemen,

The ties that bind our international order are stretched to breaking point by three linked challenges - food and fuel prices; climate change; and the quest to reach the Millennium Development Goals by the deadline of 2015.

Spiraling fuel costs threaten global growth and therefore our continued ability to lift the world's poor out of poverty. Each day, spiraling energy prices further accentuate divisions between the world's “haves” and “have-nots”. Similarly, climate change hurts us all, but it endangers the world's poor and vulnerable regions the most. The very people who have contributed the least to this problem are being shouldered with the greatest burden.

The rising cost of food represents an even more immediate danger. Food scarcity has already resulted in worldwide riots. Unaddressed, it imperils civic order, community harmony and the most basic social contract between State and citizen. At the same time, rising malnutrition also exacerbates growing disparities in global healthcare systems which divide not only the rich from the poor, but also the healthy from the chronically sick.

In another age, it is possible that some of these trends - however deplorable - could have been contained. But our global age is different - it does not permit such separation. At a time of international travel and global pandemics, of integrated commodities markets and worldwide refugee flows, what happens in one part of the world affects all parts of the world.

China is no exception. You have all seen how climate change can lead to extreme and unpredictable weather events. Last year, you battled unprecedented rains and floods that washed away homes and took hundreds of lives. This year, floodwaters again threaten millions of people even as the nation mourns earthquake devastation in Sichuan. Earlier this year, an exceptional freeze paralyzed road and rail traffic just as millions of Chinese were trying to get home for the Lunar New Year celebrations.

The climate events reflect humanity's interconnectedness. They are also a warning. Because today's triple threat of energy, climate and food challenges affects us all. It represents the proverbial loose thread that could unravel our entire international order.

Every country stands to lose from such an unravelling. But leading nations, like China, that have most at stake in the international system stand to lose the most. A global economic slowdown would affect this country's manufacturing base. Continued climate change could deprive millions more of their homes. The global food crisis could result in grain shortages and social unrest. And the confluence of all three of these trends could destabilize the very international order that has facilitated China's progress.

And yet, I strongly believe that we are not fated to watch our world fall into permanent crises. We can renew the ties that bind our international order. We can do so by asserting our common interests, our common ideals and -- above all -- our common humanity.

Ladies and gentlemen,

We have always seen how the greatest challenges bring forth humanity's most ennobling responses. Most recently, in Sichuan, I saw for myself the Chinese nation rise to face a tragedy of unimaginable magnitude. With the assistance of the entire international community, the Chinese government mounted a remarkable rescue and recovery effort that stands as an example of how united efforts can address extraordinary situations.

In Sichuan, I saw the world come together in solidarity with China. Now, I look to all of you to remain united with the international community as we face even greater global challenges.

How do we do this? Through the one international organization that is truly universal, and universally legitimate - the United Nations. The UN already gives us the tools to tackle today's challenges, linking country to country, region to region, neighbor to neighbor, rich to poor, public to private, person to person.

But it needs the support and engagement of its Member States, particularly leading powers such as China, to deliver on an ambitious agenda. We need dedicated, bold, and sustained leadership from Governments working together in a common, universal framework.

China is already leading national efforts on several of these fronts. Despite its large population, this nation remains a net exporter of cereals. As Premier Wen Jiabao has noted, China's self-reliance in feeding its people is indeed a great contribution to the world.

Similarly, China's economic success has lifted many millions out of poverty and set a shining example of progress towards the Millennium Development Goals.

These domestic successes are undeniable. But China also has an important role to play as a global power working with the rest of the international community to address challenges that can only be met through our collective efforts.

That is why I have called for world leaders, including China, to take urgent steps to address the global food crisis.

Earlier this month, world leaders gathered in Rome pledged six billion dollars to supply emergency aid to feed the poorest and to develop long-term solutions to the food crisis. These pledges must now be reflected in immediate food assistance, as well as seeds, fertilizer and irrigation for smallholder farmers in countries worst affected by the food crisis. At a time of high energy and transportation costs, food production needs to be boosted where the hungry live.

We must also support the world's farmers by removing export restrictions and levies on food commodities, in particular those procured for humanitarian purposes; and cut agricultural subsidies in developed countries to free new resources for agricultural investment in low income, food insecure countries.

Increased food production also requires enhanced efforts to combat climate change. Rising temperatures are changing weather patterns, eroding soils and drying up water systems. Global warming is also expanding the habitat of mosquitoes, widening the transmission of tropical diseases such as malaria and dengue fever. If farmers are confined to sick beds, agricultural yields will continue to stagnate.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Climate change has the potential to impact nearly all aspects of human activity. By now it is clear that we will all, rich and poor, suffer from extreme weather events, rising sea levels, the collapse of eco-systems and amplified health risks.

Much was achieved at the UN Climate Change Conference in Bali last December. We must press forward to achieve the agreement that the world expects and needs. Developed countries must lead the way in the negotiations. Major emitters from the developing world must also increase their contribution to reduce carbon emissions. They must act together in light of the agreed principle of common but differentiated responsibilities. With the Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen less than 18 months away, the future of the planet is literally at stake.

Equally, Chinese business has a key role to play in developing and providing solutions for clean technology, renewable energy, efficient products, and sustainable goods. Today, Chinese enterprises are developing exciting and innovative approaches. Already, your country ranks among the leaders in wind-generation and solar panel production. By investing and planning today for a future that protects our planet, Chinese business has an opportunity to be a true front-runner.

Ladies and gentlemen,

The perfect storm of climate change and the food crisis underscore that the international community is in the midst of a development emergency. Despite the strides made by countries like China in recent years, the world as a whole is not on track to achieve the Millennium Development Goals by the target date of 2015.

Failure to meet these Goals would prove a devastating blow to the commitments made and trust forged between the developed and developing world at the start of the millennium. It would also strain the relationship between governments and the governed.

We are already past the mid-point in the MDG race. But we not yet past the point of no return. There is still time to make up for lost ground, if the international community acts together.

In a few days time, the world's leading industrialized nations will meet in Hokkaido. I will use the occasion to once again urge donor nations to deliver on their pledges to more than double aid to Africa -- the continent farthest from the finish line in the MDG race.

We need to organize on a war footing to fight malaria, tuberculosis, HIV/AIDS and other infectious diseases across Africa. This effort can be jumpstarted by providing insecticide treated bed-nets to every African who requires one. At the same time, we must also increase our focus on maternal health, which influences so many other development indicators yet remains the slowest moving development goal. Finally, we must strengthen primary healthcare systems. In particular, we need to increase and sustain investment in training and supporting health workers with a focus on community-level efforts.

Given the strong and growing ties to Africa, China has a leading role to play in this effort. You are well on your way to becoming Africa's largest trading partner. And you are lending support to African nations in areas as diverse as infrastructure development, agriculture, commercial exchanges and education and training.

If this spirit of China-Africa cooperation is brought to bear on other challenges - such as food security and fighting HIV/AIDS - China can help propel Africa towards meeting the Millennium Development Goals, in full and on time.

Ladies and gentlemen,

This global agenda may appear ambitious, but it remains wholly achievable. What it requires is collective and sustained effort. As I noted earlier, the food crisis, climate change and the world's development emergency are not concerns for any one country or any particular region. They represent a complex global challenge that demands a comprehensive international response.

The United Nations is the natural forum for mounting this response. Our Organization provides a multilateral platform for implementing concrete actions on all fronts. But the UN cannot act alone -- we require the leadership and guidance of our Member States.

This is an area where China stands tall. You are leading activities of the UN as one of the five permanent members of the Security Council and your financial and peacekeeping contribution is growing.

China will need to rise even higher in both rankings if we are to meet growing global challenges. Today, the entire United Nations system expects China to help lead on the international agenda. For my part, I look to China not simply because of its prominent position in the United Nations and within the broader world community; I do so because the responsibility of this nation is growing day by day.

China has achieved economic growth that is the envy of countries around the world. You have made progress in reducing poverty on a scale unprecedented in human history. And through trade and investment, you are already helping others replicate your success.

China's constructive engagement is particularly evident in Northeast Asia -- a region that is beginning to work together in many areas of common interest and concern. I am particularly heartened at the trilateral dynamics of Japan, Korea and China. These three countries are increasingly looking to their common future as friendly neighbours with global interests and responsibilities. I wholeheartedly welcome their agreement to hold their first trilateral summit, and also to cooperate on climate change, the food and energy crisis, and assistance to Africa. All three are working together as part of the multilateral six-party talks on denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula, a process that carries the most realistic promise to defuse one of the gravest security threats in the region. Increasing trilateral cooperation matters a lot in addressing environmental and other challenges, all these issues are central to the United Nations. It is only natural and indeed necessary that this evolving trilateral partnership and the UN work together.

As Secretary-General of the United Nations, I look forward to working closely with the people and Government of China to advance our shared goals, and to meet the great challenges of our day.

Ladies and gentlemen,

China's remarkable and peaceful development augurs well for the coming Asia-Pacific century. Through continued and constructive engagement in the world and in the work of the United Nations, China can help ensure that this is also everyone's era.

As you all know, in just a few weeks the world's leading athletes will arrive in Beijing to compete for Olympic glory. A select few will make it to the medals platform, many will not. But if, as I expect, they all compete in the true spirit of the Olympics - challenging each other to be stronger, to reach higher, and to go faster - than it is the Olympic movement that will emerge as the true winner in Beijing.

As in the Olympics, there is no doubt in anyone's mind that China is a medal contender in race for development and prosperity. But if China's rise can help and guide others along the way, then all humanity can collectively reach for gold.

This, dear students, is your challenge. For you inherit not just China's future, but the task of helping to build the well-being of the world.

I know you are all ready to take on this challenge. And I, for one, am glad to welcome you, and the great nation of China, on board.

Xie Xie. Thank you very much.