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China-UNOSSC cooperation buoys Global South development

By Minlu Zhang at the United Nations | China Daily Global | Updated: 2023-05-08 10:17

Office director says nation has played 'very prominent' part for almost three decades

For almost three decades, China has played a prominent role working with the United Nations Office for South-South Cooperation and driven forward key international projects, said the office's director, Dima Al-Khatib.

"The role is very evident, very prominent. And with the longstanding partnership that we have with them, we have been able to advance on key global projects," Al-Khatib told China Daily in a recent interview.

The concept of South-South cooperation is that developing countries learn from each other, she said.

The volume of trade between developing countries has soared in recent years to $5.3 trillion in 2021, higher than that between developing and developed countries, according to the UN. China is classified as a developing country, according to the UN's World Economic Situation and Prospects 2023 report released in January. The report is based on data collected by the Economic and Social Affairs Department of the UN Secretariat.

China has been collaborating with the UNOSSC, which was established in 1974, for decades, Al-Khatib said. Over the decades, China has played a major role in many flagship programs and initiatives, she said.

A pilot project set up in Cote d'Ivoire in 2021 has showcased the China-Africa Rice Value Chain initiative, and "connected research institutions, small-hold farmers and the private sectors of China and Africa," Al-Khatib said.

China is also providing training and capacity building for other developing countries through a course on South-South cooperation, cross-border e-commerce for poverty eradication, and global sustainable development, she said. The course started in March last year.

The COVID-19 pandemic and the global economic crisis have created a range of challenges for developing countries, including issues related to food security, trade, livelihoods and the digital divide.

"There is a need to address key issues such as economic ones, debt relief, support for micro and small enterprises, support for women's economic empowerment and working with cities on different urban issues," Al-Khatib said.

The international community needs to see how South-South cooperation and different partnerships can help address these challenges, she said.

China has been the key contributor and main partner of the UN Fund for South-South Cooperation, which enables the UNOSSC to implement many projects for developing countries.

Meanwhile, the Global Development Initiative, put forward by China in September 2021, has been doing "phenomenal" work, Al-Khatib said. "There is extreme interest from member states and countries and by us, the Office for South-South Cooperation, to further partner and collaborate with China on this," she added.

Zhang Jun, China's permanent representative to the UN, said at a briefing of the Group of Friends of the GDI last month that based on the nation's own development experience, the GDI aims to promote common development and build a shared future. "China will continue to play its role as an engine of the world economy. China will continue to share its development experience with other countries. China will continue to provide more public goods to the international community," Zhang said.

The Group of Friends of the GDI was officially established in January 2022, and its member countries now number almost 70.

"From the approach of collaboration and the nature of the projects that are being supported through the GDI, I expect that there will be a lot of positive impacts and a lot of best practices that can benefit the direct beneficiaries," Al-Khatib said. 

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