At a time when humanity is encountering multiple crises, China has yet again called for championing multilateralism to cope with the unprecedented array of challenges and uncertainties.
Why is embracing multilateralism the right choice, and what kind of multilateralism do we need in the 21st century?
Addressing the World Economic Forum (WEF) Virtual Event of the Davos Agenda on Monday, Chinese President Xi Jinping said that multilateralism is about having international affairs addressed through consultation and the future of the world decided by everyone working together.
"We are going through the worst recession since the end of World War II. For the first time in history, the economies of all regions have been hit hard at the same time, with global industrial and supply chains clogged and trade and investment down in the doldrums," Xi said.
Despite the trillions of dollars in relief packages worldwide, global recovery is rather shaky and the outlook remains uncertain, he noted.
While the pandemic is far from over, it is likely to pose more challenges, both in the short term and in the long run.
In its "Global Risks Report 2021" released on Jan. 19, the WEF said that the most imminent threats -- those that are most likely in the next two years -- include employment and livelihood crises, widespread youth disillusionment, digital inequality and economic stagnation, among others.
The pandemic and its fallout have provided a sober reminder that the world is closely interconnected, and that a path into the future lies in multilateral cooperation, of which China has always acted as a firm advocate, experts said.
China has contributed to the global epidemic control and economic recovery from two dimensions, said Ruan Zongze, executive vice-president of the China Institute of International Studies.
On one hand, the country has walked a fine line between epidemic prevention and economic development. On the other hand, it has consistently called on the international community to enhance solidarity in the fight against COVID-19, Ruan said.
Just as Xi has pointed out, the problems facing the world are intricate and complex, and the way out of them is through upholding multilateralism and building a community with a shared future for mankind.
Xi called for building an open world economy, upholding the multilateral trading regime, discarding discriminatory and exclusionary standards, rules and systems, and taking down barriers to trade, investment and technological exchanges.
"To uphold multilateralism in the 21st century, we should promote its fine tradition, take on new perspectives and look to the future. We need to stand by the core values and basic principles of multilateralism. We also need to adapt to the changing international landscape and respond to global challenges as they arise. We need to reform and improve the global governance system on the basis of extensive consultation and consensus-building," Xi said.
The speech of President Xi was historic, according to WEF Founder and Executive Chairman Klaus Schwab.
"Four years after he made a famous speech in Davos, in 2017, where he emphasized the need for the world to embrace multilateralism, he came back to this proposal and notion of multilateralism at a very crucial time in the history of humankind," Schwab said.