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UN chief sees huge BRI potential

By HONG XIAO/JUDY ZHU | China Daily Global | Updated: 2019-04-25 10:31
The Secretary General of the United Nations Antonio Guterres attends a press conference about climate change in New York, March 28, 2019. [Photo/Agencies]

The Belt and Road Initiative is an important opportunity for reaching the United Nations' long-term development goals, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said on Tuesday at UN headquarters in New York in an interview with Chinese media.

Guterres will depart New York on Wednesday for Beijing to take part in the Second Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation.

"I'm very happy to have this opportunity to be in Beijing," he said.

According to his spokesman, Stephane Dujarric, Guterres will deliver remarks at the forum's opening ceremony on Friday morning. On Saturday, he will participate in a roundtable on promoting green and sustainable development.

Guterres said the forum presents an opportunity "to maximize the positive impact of the Belt and Road".

Answering criticism that the BRI has put less-developed countries in a debt trap, Guterres said the debt issue is a global problem.

"We are now in higher levels of debt than we had when the global economic crisis occurred in 2008," he said.

"Debt is a global problem, and we should not confuse the global debt problem with questions that might be related to some projects in (the BRI)," he said.

There is no peace without development, and no development without peace, he said.

"In the world we see so many contradictions and we see so many global challenges. It's clear that no country can solve the problems by itself. We need global answers to global challenges, both in peace and in development," Guterres added. "That is why the commitment of China to multilateralism today is so relevant to international relations."

In addition, he said, China is very committed "to multilateralism and to the work of the United Nations, from peace and security, sustainable development and peacekeeping to many other areas of fruitful cooperation".

Starting this year, China is the second-largest contributor to the UN's regular budget, after the United States.

"China is more and more engaged in UN activities, most notably contributions to peacekeeping operations," Guterres said. "We live in a very difficult moment.

"When we look at the sustainable development goals, when we look at the Agenda 2030 (for Sustainable Development), we see we are not making enough progress," he said, adding there is not enough financial support for developing countries to achieve their strategic goals.

With the huge volume of investment in international cooperation, Guterres believes the BRI can not only have a stronger impact on the economies and societies of the countries that have benefited, but also contribute to those countries' development.

The forum is "an excellent opportunity to discuss how BRI programs can be an extremely important tool to reverse the trends," he said, adding there is great need for investments in sustainable development, renewable energy and infrastructure that "respect the future and guarantee that the future is sustainable".

"We see the BRI as the most relevant project today in the world, in the context of South-South cooperation, which would contribute to fairer globalization, and fairer globalization is the best way to have a future of shared prosperity among the different nations of the world," Guterres said.

He said increasing inequality in the world is a serious problem.

"If we want to have a community of shared prosperity, we need to be able to make sure there is more justice in international relations, make sure that developing countries get a chance."

He said the high volume of BRI investment could allow many countries to overcome longtime gaps in development.

"We will do everything to make sure that these investments have a stronger possible impact on the economies and societies, in the governance of the countries that cooperate with China in the BRI," he said.

As the current international political climate faces profound and complex changes, Guterres believes the BRI can play a role in promoting multilateralism and economic globalization.

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