“Without Development, Sustainability Has No Meaning," Li Keqiang Tells UNGA

September 23, 2016

Speaking to the United Nations General Assembly on Thursday, Chinese Premier Li Keqiang made abundantly clear the Chinese view of the “sustainable development agenda”, which may have ruffled a few feathers of the Green lobby.

"China is among the first countries to submit its own plan to implement the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. The foundation of sustainable development is development itself. Sustainability has no meaning without development,”  Li said. “Many problems around the world are caused by the lack of development, including poverty, the refugee crisis, wars and conflicts, as well as terrorism. We need to find the root causes of these problems and solve them through development.” And it must be “sustainable in all directions,” he added, i.e., for the developed as well as the developing world. “It must be inclusive and interconnected. Otherwise growth will be stalled,” Li said. He also referenced the recently concluded Hangzhou Summit, chaired by China, which put forward “a win-win policy for sustainable goals”.

Li also expressed his concerns about the growing tendency toward protectionism, with a perhaps not-so-veiled critique of the campaign of Donald Trump in the U.S.: “Globalization faces strong headwinds,” he said. Li said that China would continue its policy of opening up. But to advance sustainable development, “we must uphold the principles of the UN Charter,” and “support the leading role of the UN in global affairs.”

“In resolving crises, the world must rely on dialogue instead of alliances,” Li said. "It has been proven over time that military solutions can only lead to more hatred and violence. No one will win this way. All warring sides in regional conflicts should abandon the zero-sum mentality, solve their conflict through dialogue, resolve their differences through negotiation and pursue reconciliation with the spirit of a forgiveness mentality.”

On Syria he called for a political solution to the conflict.