13 November 2019
Excellency Mr. Xie Chuntao, Vice President of the Party School/China National Academy of Governance,
Excellencies from the diplomatic community in Beijing,
Ladies and gentlemen,
On behalf of the United Nations in China, I would like to start by thanking the Party School/China National Academy of Governance for co-hosting today’s event to share key take-aways from the 4th Plenum of the 19th Central Committee of the Communist Party of China. We have the pleasure of working with China National Academy of Governance since 2018, when we started the series of briefings on key domestic developments such as the Two Sessions (Liang Hui) and the Government Reshuffle Plan. Today’s event is part of our joint efforts to enhance mutual understanding between China and the international community in Beijing.
After reading through the targets and tasks in the Communique of the 4th Plenum, we see clear linkages with the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, as the Communique talks about addressing relative poverty and achieving high-quality development, which resonates with the principles of sustainable development, especially that of “leaving no one behind”, including the furthest left behind, for example:
- Improve the capacity to practice scientific, democratic and law-based governance;
- Uphold and improve the livelihood system for protecting both urban and rural residents and working to meet people’s ever-increasing needs for a better life;
- Upholding and improving the system for developing an ecological civilization and promoting the harmonious coexistence between humans and nature;
It also prompts us to think about questions such as:
- What are the next-generation development challenges for China in the context of an upper middle-income country, aside from the above-mentioned targets and tasks?
- Who are the population groups most at risk of being left behind, and why? What are the legal, the economic, the geographical or cultural barriers that put them at risk and what are the changes that are needed to overcome them?
- What can we, the United Nations and the international community do to support China’s pursuit of sustainable development, or in other words, high-quality development?
- Furthermore, how can we align China’s domestic development agenda with the 2030 Agenda, and those of other partner countries in order to achieve sustainability globally?
In China today, as you anticipate the historic achievement next year of the ‘all around Xiaokang society’ vision, the SDGs provide an ideal framework for a new set of goals in the new era the Chinese Leadership have proclaimed. The 2030 Agenda defines three pillars of sustainability, economic, environmental and social, but these are not separate silos. Economic growth that is accompanied by sharp increases in inequality is not sustainable, because the resulting social tensions are certain to lead to economic disruption.
Economic sustainability without environmental sustainability is impossible because the eventual economic and human costs of environmental damage will undermine economic sustainability. Environmental sustainability without economic sustainability is likewise impossible; there is no option of simply shutting down all economic activity in order to preserve nature.
Talking about governance, which is high on the agenda of the Communique, we need to be mindful of the SDG 16: Peace, justice and strong institutions. We cannot hope for sustainable development without peace, stability, human rights and effective governance, based on the rule of law. We need to promote peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, provide access to justice for all and build effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels.
This year marks the 70th Anniversary of the People’s Republic of China and 40th Anniversary of the UN’s presence in China. Today, China has grown to become the world’s second largest economy. In this context, the UN is no longer a donor providing development assistance for basic needs, but a development partner that can provide advanced policy advice and share international experience.
Our focus in China today is to support China’s effort to implement the 2030 Agenda and the 17 Sustainable Development Goals and make sure that “no one is left behind” as China walks the last mile of poverty alleviation and shift the focus towards high-quality development. We are also working with China on its increasing international development cooperation with other developing countries through South-South Cooperation and initiatives such as the Belt and Road. And this is exactly what we are doing today – as a platform, a bridge and a connector to enhance mutual understandings between China and the rest of the world.
The Communique brings to our attention the next generation of China’s development challenges, which go beyond extreme poverty, and are comprised of more complex, intertwined issues that require a holistic and cross-sectoral approach to tackle successfully.
Anticipating the more complex development challenges ahead of us, the UN is committed to address these challenges in our collaboration with China in the years to come. I will stop here and join you in the briefing by Excellency Mr. Xie Chuntao, Vice President of the Party School/China National Academy of Governance, an expert on the history of the CPC, on the key take-ways of the 4th Plenum.