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Forum offers platform for cooperation

By CHEN HONG | China Daily | Updated: 2023-12-08 11:49
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China's international role seen as crucial to addressing the world's widespread challenges

Chau Chak Wing, president of the Australia China Friendship and Exchange Association, delivers a speech at the closing ceremony of the 2023 Imperial Springs International Forum on Tuesday. CHINA DAILY

Foreign dignitaries, leaders of international organizations, and scholars from across the globe called for multilateralism and tackling common challenges through cooperation and win-win approaches at the recent 2023 Imperial Springs International Forum.

The forum, held in Guangzhou, Guangdong province, since 2014, has established itself as a significant platform for China to engage in profound dialogues with the international community. It strives to foster a deeper understanding and consensus among all participants, encouraging regional and global cooperation.

This year's forum, with the theme "Multilateralism: More Exchanges, Greater Inclusiveness and Cooperation", concluded on Tuesday with the release of the 2023 Imperial Springs Statement.

More than 130 participants from more than 40 countries and regions reached a broad consensus through in-depth discussions on topics such as promoting economic recovery and global cooperation, global challenges and responses, people-to-people friendship exchanges, and multilateralism and global governance reforms.

In the statement, they proposed transcending isolation through exchanges, resolving opposition through inclusiveness, and winning the future through cooperation at a time when human society is facing unprecedented challenges and uncertainties.

They also emphasized the importance of addressing global challenges through multilateralism, promoting a global governance perspective of consultation, cooperation and shared benefits.

Vaira Vike-Freiberga, former president of Latvia and co-chair of the Nizami Ganjavi International Center, said the statement was comprehensive, all-encompassing and clear, covering the key points and consensus reached by people from different regions of the world at the forum.

Political figures and experts exchange views at a panel discussion session during the forum. CHINA DAILY

"These are all very important principles. It would be beneficial for all of us if the world could move forward along this path," she said.

The former president underscored the challenge of regional conflicts, which she believed to be the most critical risk to global development.

She expressed her hope that these issues could be effectively addressed through multilateralism, ultimately leading to the attainment of genuine shared prosperity.

Danilo Turk, former president of Slovenia and president of the World Leadership Alliance — Club de Madrid, emphasized the need to embrace true multilateralism, uphold the international system centering on the United Nations, and establish more efficient, inclusive and equitable mechanisms for multilateral cooperation.

The forum was co-hosted by the alliance, the Chinese People's Association for Friendship with Foreign Countries, the Australia China Friendship and Exchange Association, and the Guangdong provincial government.

Vladimir Norov, former secretary-general of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization and former minister of foreign affairs of Uzbekistan, said China has taken on more international responsibilities and is committed to resolving global issues, making efforts to unite developed countries and developing countries in exploring solutions to global problems.

The China-proposed Belt and Road Initiative, the Global Development Initiative, and the Global Security Initiative are proactive solutions, according to him, on which multilateralism can feasibly be based.

Zhu Feng, executive dean of the School of International Relations at Nanjing University, said the discussion on multilateralism is timely as world politics are returning to realism, amid war, conflicts, economic downturns, the climate crisis and the unilateralism adopted by some countries.

He suggested that countries and regions maintain a strong will to continue cooperation, promoting international governance led by international organizations such as the World Trade Organization, the World Bank, and the United Nations Security Council.

Csaba Korosi, president of the 77th UN General Assembly, said he appreciated China's efforts to resolve issues through multilateralism.

"It is the time for inclusion, it is a time to make sure that we would like to discuss, address and solve as many questions as possible in the multipolar context," he said. "If we go for a geopolitical mutual exclusive, zero-sum game mentality, if we make enemies, it will be the whole world that is losing."

The theme of the Imperial Springs International Forum for three consecutive sessions has been centered around multilateralism. The sixth session in 2019 emphasized multilateralism and sustainable development, while the seventh session in 2021 focused on "Multilateralism 2.0: Global Cooperation in the Post-Pandemic Era".

It has received wide acknowledgement for promoting people-to-people diplomacy.

Nathalie de Gaulle, great-granddaughter of former French president Charles de Gaulle and co-founder of Princeps Strategy, attended the forum for the second time.

She said the forum provided an opportunity for people from the private sector to talk together with former heads of state and academics and form a global cooperation understanding.

"People-to-people exchanges in culture, in economy, in business, complement the traditional diplomatic sphere," she said.

Chau Chak Wing, president of the Australia China Friendship and Exchange Association, one of the organizers, said: "The more complex the international situation becomes, the more we need to strengthen communication, adopt a perspective of empathy and cooperation, and promote flexible and diverse people-to-people exchanges."

More than 200 foreign dignitaries and 600 renowned experts, scholars and business leaders from China and overseas have been invited to the Imperial Springs International Forum since 2014, according to the organizing committee.

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