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US' political virus is a threat to multilateralism

By Shen Dingli | chinadaily.com.cn | Updated: 2020-09-23 14:37


Addressing the summit meeting commemorating the 75th anniversary of the United Nations, President Xi Jinping, through video link, said the world body can better play its global governance role by standing firm for justice, upholding the rule of law, promoting cooperation and focusing on real action by adhering to multilateralism.

The UN was founded after the end of World War II to promote international cooperation and to achieve global peace and security. The UN Charter and UN decisions provide the fundamental base for contemporary international public law. And the UN was founded for managing global affairs with international participation as per international law. In fact, the UN motto is peace, dignity and equality on a healthy planet.

In sharp contrast, the US leader once again unleashed political viruses in his strongly worded UN speech on Tuesday, calling on the UN to hold China accountable for the global pandemic. Such a blame game is nothing but an old trick to seek a scapegoat for the US administration's own failure in controlling the pandemic. According to Johns Hopkins University, the US has reported at least 199,818 deaths, while the number of cases has reached more than 6.8 million, also the highest in the world.

While China calls the world to fight the pandemic together, the selfish US politicians are busy with their domestic election battles and turn a deaf ear to the voice of reason. Unlike China's resolute war against the pandemic, their irresponsible governance leads to "America first" in both the confirmed cases and fatalities of COVID-19, and also poisons US ties with China.

It's more ridiculous for the US, as a power that often resorts to unilateral measures and defies UN authority, to demand the UN hold China accountable.

Indeed, the United States played a pivotal role in creating the UN system. It conceived a new institution and worked with other countries to make it happen. But times have changed. Since the beginning of the 21st century, the US has been violating the very tenets it helped incorporate in UN documents — safeguarding global peace and security through multilateral cooperation.

Under the George W. Bush administration, the US-led NATO forces invaded Afghanistan in 2001. The US' Afghan invasion may have had the support of a multilateral organization, NATO, but Washington's "preemptive" invasion of Iraq, a sovereign country, in 2003 without proper evidence and without UN endorsement was an exhibition of US militarism. Iraq may have had some internal governance challenges, but those were of no concern to another country, and certainly didn't warrant US military action.

Ironically, Saddam Hussein, then the Iraqi leader, was not involved in the Sept 11, 2001 attacks on the US; instead, he was vehemently opposed to terrorists and terrorist organizations. And contrary to what the US claimed before the invasion, he didn't possess any weapons of mass destruction. To put it simply, the US invaded Iraq to effect regime change.

The US invasion of Iraq — a gross violation of the UN Charter — has turned a beautiful, relatively prosperous country into a land of nightmares, misery and internecine war. Hundreds of thousands of Iraqis have been killed, many more wounded, and even more forced to flee their homes and become refugees.

The US, too, has lost soldiers and spent billions of dollars for the mistake it committed. But it has not been held accountable for the devastation of Iraq or the unnecessary loss of American lives.

Under the present administration, the US has set a record of withdrawing from international treaties and organizations, from the Climate Agreement to the UN Human Rights Council, and from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (the Iran nuclear deal) to the World Health Organization. In just a few years, the US has changed from a builder of the world order to the destroyer of the order. Under the incumbent president, the US is concerned only about its own benefits.

That the world stands fragmented, multilateralism and global cooperation have been undermined by the US and the world body established to maintain global peace and security has weakened is a sad commentary on the 75th anniversary of the founding of the UN. The US is no longer using diplomacy to talk with other countries. Instead, it is resorting to unilateralism and bullying, and using sanctions to coerce other countries into accepting its terms. It has been threatening not only some other major countries, but also many of its longtime allies, such as Germany and Canada.

Given such disturbing global changes, it was important for China to raise its concern at the UN summit meeting. As a major, responsible country, China has adhered to the UN principle of fairness and mutual respect, rather than using threats and coercion. At a time when the world's sole superpower has been violating international laws and rules, China has to stand up and oppose its actions.

In line with President Xi's call for international cooperation for common development, China is ready to share its own development experiences with the rest of the world, and taking measures to increase imports of goods and services to help other countries overcome the global health and economic crises. And after virtually containing the novel coronavirus at home, it is ready to hold the third China International Import Expo in Shanghai in November.

Therefore, we hope that in accordance with the president's call for global cooperation, the UN will pick up steam and continue to play its exemplary role as the core of a global governance system.

The author is a professor and former executive dean of the Institute of International Studies, Fudan University.

The views don't necessarily reflect those of China Daily.

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