Top Chinese and US diplomats clashed again on a China-hosted virtual session of the United Nations (UN) Security Council on Friday.
Compared to the China-US Alaska talks, the atmosphere of the multilateralism-themed session was much milder; however, the division and conflicts were still evident. The session is viewed by analysts as a battle over what “rules” and “multilateralism” mean.
Convened by China and hosted by State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi, the event is the first since China held the UN Security Council’s rotating presidency for the month of May. US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov were also involved in the “fire from a distance.”
At the meeting on Friday, Wang called for unity and cooperation among countries to cope with global challenges, and he also stressed opposing hegemony, unilateralism, ideological conflicts and calling for the responsibility of some “big powers,” an unspecified criticism of the US.
Although Blinken stressed “common ground with other countries” and said that cooperation was still the best tool to tackle challenges, his remarks on international rules, human rights and regional hot spots were seen as targeting China.
“Some argue that what governments do within their own borders is their own business and that human rights vary from one society to another, but the ‘universal declaration of human rights’ begins with the word ‘universal’ because of our nation agreed there are certain rights which every person everywhere is entitled,” Blinken said.
The US is not seeking to uphold the rule-based order to keep other nations down, Blinken said.
Blinken’s often-repeated mantra of “playing by the rules” is simply to ask other countries to play by US rules, analysts said. Lavrov’s speech was a sharp rebuttal to American hypocrisy.
Lavrov directly slammed the US and its Western allies’ hegemonic mentality of sanctions if they refuse to accept their way. West’s unlawful unilateral sanctions introduced have no international legal basis, Lavrov said.
Experts reached by Global Times said that despite Blinken’s endorsement of the UN system at Friday’s session, outside the UN, the US has made small tricks to restrict other countries with allies, such as the very recent G7 targeting “China threats,” which has raised questions about Washington’s sincerity.
The session also reflects the rock-solid friendship between China and Russia, which, though not strategic allies, will emerge as the strongest defenders of multilateralism under the UN framework for many years, experts said.
One day before the session, Chinese President Xi Jinping held a phone conversation with United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Thursday, reiterating the importance of multilateralism, the Xinhua News Agency reported.
The world needs genuine multilateralism, Xi said, adding that all countries should act in accordance with the purposes and principles of the UN Charter, refrain from pursuing unilateralism and hegemony, and should not use multilateralism as a pretext to form small circles or stir up ideological confrontation.
In response to a question on what outcome is expected from the virtual session, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin said on Friday at a regular press briefing that clique politics is undermining the authority and effectiveness of multilateral institutions, and ideological confrontation is undermining the fairness and equity of multilateralism.
Lü Xiang, a research fellow at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences in Beijing, told the Global Times on Friday that insinuating China through the issue of human rights reflects the consistent practice of the US’ political warfare. However, Washington’s one-sided view of human rights runs counter to the spirit of the UN Charter.
China attaches great importance to people’s rights to survival and development and has been very successful in poverty alleviation and dealing with the epidemic, said the expert, noting that the US is not qualified to point fingers at other countries when it’s facing an epidemic, race, violence and other problems at home.
In its 240-plus years of existence, the US has been at war for all but 16 years. The US military budget for 2019 exceeded $716 billion, which is equal to the military spending of the next nine countries combined, said the expert, describing US’ concerns of regional weaponization and territorial disputes hilarious.
China and Russia, which already share many common interests, will be the strongest proponents of multilateralism under the UN framework over the next decade as they grow closer under US’ arrogance and hegemonic mentality, the expert said.
Shi Yinhong, director of Center for American Studies at Renmin University of China, told the Global Times on Friday that unlike the US, China’s contribution to world multilateralism is increasing every year.