A Security Council meeting aimed at strengthening global cooperation and the role of the United Nations is expected to hear from the top American, Chinese and Russian diplomats as well as other ministers on Friday.
China, which holds the council's rotating presidency this month, said in a “concept note” to members of the UN's most powerful body that it organized the meeting in hopes the 15 nations will “reaffirm their strong commitment to multilateralism” as the world faces global challenges including the COVID-19 pandemic and its economic recovery and climate change.
China's Foreign Minister Wang Yi will be chairing the meeting and US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov are among the confirmed participants. It will be the first event that all three take part in, though virtually.
China's UN envoy Zhang Jun told a news conference Monday: “It's becoming more and more evident that in tackling the current global crises, multilateralism represents the right way out.”
He recalled the declaration adopted last September by world leaders commemorating the 75th anniversary of the United Nations which says that following the COVID-19 pandemic: “Multilateralism is not an option but a necessity as we build back better for a more equal, more resilient, and more sustainable world. The United Nations must be at the center of our efforts.”
The State Department said Thursday that Blinken “will discuss the importance of multilateral cooperation and highlight the core principles that are essential to maintaining a rules-based international order.”
In his first address to a global audience after his inauguration, U.S. President Joe Biden declared that “America is back, the trans-Atlantic alliance is back,” after four years of a Trump administration that flaunted its foreign policy through an “America First” lens.
Speaking to the annual Munich Security Conference virtually in February, he ticked through a daunting to-do list — salvaging the Iran nuclear deal, meeting economic and security challenges posed by China and Russia, and repairing the damage caused by the pandemic — that he said would require close cooperation between the U.S. and its Western allies.
Last week, Biden stressed to Congress the critical importance of the United States keeping up with China, which his administration sees as a strategic challenger, and proving that American democracy can still work and maintain primacy in the world.
Friday's council session also comes in the wake of a contentious meeting in Alaska on March 18 between Blinken and Chinese Communist Party foreign affairs chief Yang Jiechi, who took aim at each other's country's sharply differed policies. It was the first face-to-face US-China meeting of the Biden administration.
Blinken said the administration is united with its allies in pushing back against China's increasing authoritarianism and assertiveness at home and abroad including its actions in Hong Kong and against Taiwan, the Uighur minority in Xinjiang and in the South China Sea. Yang responded angrily, demanding that the US stop pushing its own version of democracy at a time when America has been roiled by domestic discontent and accusing Washington of hypocrisy for criticising Beijing on human rights and other issues.
The Chinese “concept note” said the discussion may focus on exploring “how to better consolidate the multilateral system and prevent the resurgence of unilateralism,” discussing “what kind of multilateralism the world needs, and how multilateralism should be upheld,” and exploring “what efforts the international community should make to better uphold the United Nations-centered international system and the basic norms of international relations” based on the UN Charter.