United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and his wife, Ban Soon-taek, arrived from Tokyo to Beijing on Tuesday, 1 July, on the second leg of his three-country North-East Asian visit and to the Group of Eight (G-8) Summit in Hokkaido the following week.
Just a short while after his arrival in the Chinese capital, he delivered an address at the Foreign Affairs University in Beijing, during which he outlined the challenges facing the world today and China’s leadership role in meeting them. (See Press Release SG/SM/11671.)
“This is your challenge,” he told the students. “For you inherit not just China’s future, but the task of helping to build the well-being of the world.”
He then had a lively exchange with the students.
He met that day with the United Nations country team and later attended a performance of the Beijing Opera entitled “Prosperity is Brought by the Dragon and the Phoenix”.
On Wednesday morning, the Secretary-General and his wife visited an HIV patients’ ward at the Government-run Ditan Hospital, where he spoke with a number of patients, including one woman who had delivered a baby girl just 20 days earlier. He told the patients and hospital staff that fighting HIV/AIDS is a high priority for the United Nations. He added that he is working with the scientific, medical, business and civil communities to provide greater medical access to patients and also to make workplaces more integrated and welcoming to those who are HIV-positive.
The Secretary-General also visited the site of the Olympic Games, where he received a tour of the visitor centre and got a first-hand look at Birdnest Stadium, where a giant board was lit up with words of welcome to the Secretary-General in English and Chinese.
He told reporters afterward that he was impressed at the preparations for the Olympics, adding, “Let us work together so that the whole international community will become gold medallists through the Olympic Games, through demonstrating cooperation, friendship and mutual understanding”.
After that, he had a series of meetings with the Chinese leadership, beginning with Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi, Premier Wen Jiabao, and then the President.
Ban told President Hu Jintao and the other leaders with whom he met that the United Nations regards China as a strong partner and that the purpose of this visit was to ask for an even stronger partnership in the future.
Throughout his meetings, he urged for greater Chinese involvement and for the Chinese leadership to exert its leadership in tackling the major pressing issues facing humanity, such as the effort to combat climate change, address soaring food prices and attain the Millennium Development Goals.
In those meetings, he and the senior Chinese officials also discussed United Nations-China relations, United Nations reform, Myanmar, Zimbabwe, Sudan, Somalia, Kosovo, the situation in the Middle East, recent developments on the Korean peninsula and in North-East Asia involving China, Japan and the Republic of Korea.
Following a welcome lunch hosted by the Foreign Minister, the Secretary-General attended and addressed a meeting of Chinese business leaders participating in the Global Compact network in the country. (See Press Release SG/SM/11677.)
He later met with State Councillor Dai Bingguo, who hosted a banquet in his honour in the evening.
On Thursday morning, he had a working breakfast meeting with Tang Jiaxuan, former State Councillor, before departing Beijing for Seoul, the third leg of his Asian visit.