A return to multilateralism

Many countries today advocate a return to multilateralism. So what kind of multilateralism does the world need? It should never be selfish, nor should it ever put the national interests of one country above shared global ones. It should never be about containing other countries or forging alliances with small groups. A country committed to multilateralism cannot set global hegemony as its strategic goal. Nowadays, the world faces common challenges and problems. It is impossible for any single country to shoulder the responsibility of saving and healing the world.
The world still hasn’t overcome the COVID-19 pandemic. Disasters even more challenging than COVID-19 are bound to emerge in the future. This pandemic has already caused greater economic losses and overall depression than the 2008 international financial crisis. The economies of some countries seemingly are on the rebound, yet deep down remain plagued by problems.
The U.S. economy rebounded strongly in the first quarter of this year. However, this recovery was the result of an ultra-loose monetary policy. In March, the House of Representatives approved a $1.9-trillion COVID-19 relief bill proposed by President Joe Biden, raising the U.S. national debt to nearly $30 trillion, the highest level of any country. Consequently, the first quarter’s numbers did not demonstrate a strong recovery in the real sense, and the U.S. economy has yet to get back on track.
Alongside the pandemic, the other biggest variable is the environment. Reducing damage to the environment and restoring ecology are imperative. Human beings are being punished by nature. Poverty is another common challenge faced by humanity. Billions of people around the world will still be unable to access clean drinking water, sanitation and hygiene services in 2030 unless the rate of progress quadruples, according to a report issued by the World Health Organization and the UN Children’s Fund.
To address all these global issues, international cooperation is in order and the world must return to a healthy type of multilateral system. We need to move past the debate over whether or not to continue multilateralism and make it the consensus and common philosophy of all countries.
There are many platforms for multilateralism, with the UN system and other international organizations such as the World Trade Organization and the World Bank being the essential ones. They are complemented by a global consensus in the form of international conventions such as the Paris Agreement, the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons, and the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea, as well as cross-border industrial agreements such as the Basel Accord on banking supervision. Mechanisms for international dialogue such as the Group of 20 (G20) and Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation also play an important role. These arrangements have a coordinated goal: to establish a long-term institutional mechanism featuring orderly and interactive arrangements followed by all through reaching consensus, determining common goals, following common rules and standards, taking joint actions, and dealing with strategies, policies and acts of different countries in coordinated manner.
The key to the genuine multilateralism set forth in and advocated by the UN Charter is safeguarding the common interests of all countries and maintaining world peace, development, and normal relations between countries, especially the right to development for all. The problem now is that certain countries, especially the U.S., the world’s only superpower, abuse the concept of multilateralism. U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken called Washington’s ties with China the “biggest geopolitical test” of the 21st century. He claimed that the economic,diplomatic, military and technological power of China poses serious challenges to the U.S. “Our relationship with China will be competitive when it should be, collaborative when it can be and adversarial when it must be,” Blinken concluded.
On March 1, the U.S. National Security Commission on Artificial Intelligence submitted a 756-page report to Congress, saying artificial intelligence research is a contest of values, and suggesting the U.S. Government continue to counter China’s microelectronics industry and contain China’s manufacturing capabilities of high-end semiconductors to maintain the U.S. lead over China. It even proposed that America set its development goal of technologies two generations earlier than those of China.
I personally don’t see anything wrong with the U.S. establishing development goals. However, the purpose of its development should never be to restrain China. The UN Charter has made it very clear that every country has the right to development.