Premier Li Keqiang (C) chairs a roundtable on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) at the United Nations headquarters in New York, Sept 19, 2016. [Photo/Xinhua]
NEW YORK — Premier Li Keqiang has just wound up his visit to the United Nations headquarters in a fruitful diplomatic package, which included attending the UN General Assembly, the UN conferences on refugees, immigration and on sustainable development.
On the sidelines of the UN meetings, Premier Li held talks with the UN secretary-general and foreign leaders. Meanwhile, Premier Li interacted with American business, media and strategic think tank personalities.
Premier Li unveiled China’s latest proposals on key global issues including development and refugees. His New York tour also displayed China’s outlook for China-US relations while assuring the world of China’s determination to maintain steady economic growth and seek greater integration with the world economy.
Premier Li (L) meets with UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon in New York, Sept 19, 2016. [Photo/Xinhua]
LI’S UN DEBUT
The first visit to the UN headquarters by Premier Li as Chinese premier was marked with great success and important achievements.
During his attendance at the UN meetings, the Premier put forward proposals concerning some of the most pressing challenges facing the world, while stressing peace and development as key to addressing the challenges.
On the refugee and immigration issue, which is haunting many parts of the world, the Premier announced $100 million in additional humanitarian aid by Beijing to help solve the refugee crisis in some parts of the world, as well as help tap the massive movement of migrants. The aid, which is on top of China’s previous pledges, would go to some countries and international organizations.
While chairing a roundtable on Sustainable Development Goals at the UN, Premier Li said that China has pledged an additional $100 million in annual aid to UN development agencies by 2020 on top of the amount pledged in 2015.
He also announced that China’s donation to the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria will reach $18 million in the next three years.
Premier Li (R) meets with US President Barack Obama in New York on Sept 19, 2016. [Photo/Xinhua]
On the sidelines of a series of UN conferences, the Premier met with UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and held talks with leaders of the United States, France, New Zealand and Pakistan.
The topics of the talks ranged from the issue of development and climate change, to the situation on the Korean Peninsula, China’s continuous support for the United Nations, its Charter, and its role in international affairs and safeguarding world peace and development, global economic recovery and China’s engagement with other countries in economic cooperation and regional economic integration through the Belt and Road Initiative.
During his meeting with US President Barack Obama on Sept 19, Premier Li called on China and the United States to step up efforts to promote economic and trade ties between the two countries.
Premier Li urged the two sides to work together to ensure an early conclusion of negotiations on a China-US bilateral investment treaty, expanding market access to each other, and creating a better business environment and better cooperation prospects for enterprises from both sides.
While meeting with French President Francois Hollande on Sept 20, Premier Li and the French leader pledged to ensure a smooth implementation of Britain’s Hinkley Point nuclear power plant project, and to enhance cooperation in third-party markets.
The Premier met with Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif on Sept 21, noting that pragmatic cooperation between the two countries, featured by the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, has made positive progress. Premier Li hopes the two sides can jointly implement the planning and construction of the Corridor and advance cooperation that serves public welfare and livelihood to benefit the two peoples.
Premier Li addresses the Summit for Refugees and Migrants of the on-going UN General Assembly in New York, the United States, Sept 19, 2016. [Photo/Xinhua]
INTERACTION WITH BUSINESSES, LOCAL PERSONALITIES
Among the most covered events during his visit were the Premier’s close face-to-face interactions with local business circles, prominent personalities and media, including former US Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, former US Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson, and former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg.
“It is a fact that China and the United States have both stable political relations and very close economic and trade cooperation,” Premier Li told his audience during one of the meetings, which were seen as one of the most important interactions between a Chinese leader and American business people, media personalities and strategic analysts.
Acknowledging that it is inevitable for the two countries to differ in certain areas due to different cultural backgrounds and national conditions, Premier Li stressed the two sides should focus on the mainstream and general direction of bilateral ties.
Premier Li and former US Secretary of State Henry Kissinger attend a welcoming dinner party organized by the Economic Club of New York, the National Committee on US-China Relations and the US-China Business Council in New York, Sept 20, 2016. [Photo/Xinhua]
While addressing a welcoming dinner party organized by the Economic Club of New York on Sept 20, the Premier said frictions represent only a minor part in China-US economic relations, calling upon the two sides to expand common interests and properly handle differences.
During a question-and-answer session, Premier Li said he was told by some friends that “it’s not the right time” for him to visit the United States because the election campaigns are very tense now.
Recalling his US visit and trips to the headquarters of the Republican and Democratic parties in the 1980s, Premier Li said if he was now asked which candidate he likes, he would give the same answer -- that no matter who becomes the next president, he believes the China-US relationship would certainly have a better future.
The Premier also suggested that the key to increasing mutual trust and dispelling misunderstandings between the two sides is to strengthen people-to-people exchanges and candid communication. Last year, more than 2.6 million Chinese tourists visited the United States, and the number of Chinese students studying in the US has reached 600,000.