Zhang Jun (left), China’s new envoy to the United Nations, presents his credentials to UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres at UN Headquarters in New York on Tuesday. HONG XIAO / CHINA DAILY

The new Chinese envoy to the United Nations, describing China as “100 percent” a developing country, said his nation will continue to safeguard the legitimate rights and interests of developing countries.

Zhang Jun, the new permanent representative of China to the United Nations, spoke to Chinese media after presenting his credentials to UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres at UN headquarters in New York on Tuesday.

Zhang said development is one of the themes of today’s world and one of the most important challenges facing it today.

In the past few years, developing countries have had some achievements, “but at the same time, they still face the problem of insufficient and unbalanced development”, he said.

“Just like China, although it has made great development achievements, it still faces the problem of insufficient and unbalanced development in all aspects,” he added.

“China is still 100 percent a developing country,” he said. “Regrettably, some countries are taking China’s positioning of developing country to make a fuss.”

Zhang’s comments came after US President Donald Trump tweeted on Friday: “The WTO (World Trade Organization) is BROKEN when the world’s RICHEST countries claim to be developing countries to avoid WTO rules and get special treatment. NO more!!!”

Zhang said: “We firmly oppose any country taking China’s position of a developing country to make a fuss and resolutely oppose any country trying to take advantage of the positioning issue to create obstacles to development for developing countries, even deprive the rights of developing countries,” he said.

Most of the UN member states are developing countries, and the vast majority of the world’s population lives in developing countries. The right of development is also one of the most important basic human rights, Zhang said.

Zhang said the UN is the most universal, representative and authoritative intergovernmental international organization in the world.

Over the years, with efforts by both sides, China’s cooperation with the UN has maintained good momentum.

In the first half of this year alone, Guterres was invited to attend the second Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation, held in Beijing.

In June, President Xi Jinping and Guterres met again during the G20 summit in Osaka, Japan, where they had an in-depth exchange of views on major issues facing the current international situation.

“President Xi’s series of important conclusions on China’s cooperation with the UN have pointed out the direction for our further development of cooperation with the organization,” said Zhang.

“As the new permanent representative to the UN, I will implement the important instructions of President Xi and comprehensively and deeply promote the relationship between China and the UN to a new level,” Zhang added.

This year marks the 70th anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic of China. And next year marks the 75th anniversary of the founding of the United Nations.

“Standing on a new starting point, China will play its role as a permanent member of the Security Council, safeguard the purposes and principles of the UN Charter, actively participate in international affairs, promote political and diplomatic solutions to disputes and continue to contribute to the world peace,” he said. “At the same time, we will also promote international cooperation and respond to global challenges in a responsible and constructive manner” he added.

Zhang said that the biggest challenge in the world comes from unilateralism and protectionism.

“We will firmly uphold multilateralism, oppose unilateralism and protectionism, and support the UN in playing an important role,” said Zhang, adding that China will firmly uphold the international system with the UN as the core and maintain an international order based on international law.

“We will also participate constructively in the UN’s discussions on issues including climate change, cybersecurity and terrorism. We will make our contributions in order to meet these major challenges and promote the building of a community of shared future,” he said.

China will also continue to push the UN to attach great importance to sustainable development issues, facilitate the implementation of the 2030 agenda, and continue to deepen cooperation with the UN under the Belt and Road Initiative.

According to the UN website, since 2018, Zhang has served as assistant minister for foreign affairs, prior to which he was director-general of the Foreign Ministry’s Department of Economic Affairs from 2012.

Beginning in 2007, Zhang was China’s ambassador to the Netherlands and permanent representative to the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, serving until 2012.  From 2004 to 2007, he was secretary to the General Office of the State Council.

Between 2002 and 2004, Zhang was deputy director-general of the Foreign Ministry’s Department of International Organizations and Conferences, having previously served as deputy director of the Administration Committee of the Ningbo Economic and Technological Development Zone, Zhejiang province, from 2000 to 2002.

Zhang joined the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in 1984 as second secretary and was third secretary in China’s Permanent Mission to the United Nations from 1990 until 1994.

He holds a bachelor of laws from Jilin University in China and a master of laws from Hull University in the United Kingdom.

Born in 1960 in Jilin province, Zhang is married and has a daughter.

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