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Multilateralism key to tackling global challenges, say forum participants

By Zheng Caixiong and Li Wenfang in Guangzhou | China Daily | Updated: 2023-12-06 07:29
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A view of Canton Tower in Guangzhou, Guangdong province. [Photo/VCG]

The 2023 Imperial Springs International Forum concluded on Tuesday in Guangzhou, the capital of Guangdong province, with over 130 global participants, including former heads of state and leaders of international organizations, gathering to pool efforts to promote multilateralism and strengthen global cooperation.

The forum issued the 2023 Imperial Springs Statement, which emphasized the role of multilateralism in resolving world issues.

Founded in 2014, the forum has become a high-profile platform for international exchanges and cooperation, according to experts.

For three days, the participants engaged in extensive discussions on topics such as sustainable development, global climate action and the China-proposed Belt and Road Initiative.

Acknowledging that the world faces multiple challenges, they emphasized the crucial role of multilateralism for the survival of humanity and the need for its practical implementation. They also called for worldwide collaboration, respect for cultural differences and space for communication and dialogue.

Some former state leaders and scholars highlighted the role of the BRI as the epitome of multilateralism, saying that it promotes joint development of countries and regions involved.

Danilo Turk, former president of Slovenia and president of Club de Madrid, said the BRI aims to achieve win-win cooperation, and China is making great efforts to create an environment of fair play.

Turk said the forum has become an important platform for countries around the world to engage in in-depth dialogue and build universal consensus since its establishment.

He said that during the forum, participants had candid and in-depth discussions and exchange of views, focusing on the multiple challenges and urgent issues facing the world. They also expressed their insightful views and contributed wisdom to global governance, he added.

Vaira Vike-Freiberga, former president of Latvia and co-chair of the Nizami Ganjavi International Center, said there are differences in the understanding of international rules among countries.

The forum participants upheld the common belief that multilateralism is crucial for the interests and survival of humanity, and it should not be a vague concept, but a principle that needs to be implemented in practice, she said. Countries around the world should work together, respect each other's cultural differences, reserve space for communication and dialogue, and actively engage in multilateral cooperation.

She said that Latvia is expected to further expand cooperation with China and become a transit center of the BRI, which helps connect Asia and Europe, in the following years.

Zheng Yongnian, a professor at the Chinese University of Hong Kong (Shenzhen), said that amid the complex and ever-changing situation in the world today, multilateralism must be upheld to promote global cooperation.

"The BRI is the most typical case of multilateralism that we emphasize today," said Zheng, who is also board director of Guangzhou Institute of Greater Bay Area.

Zheng said he believes the BRI is the best international public good that China provides to the world, as it drives and promotes the joint development of countries and regions involved.

Zhu Feng, executive dean of Nanjing University's School of International Studies, said that all countries are facing the same challenges in geopolitical, cultural and economic fields, and only by joining hands and working together can they achieve robust economic growth.

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