The idea of sustainable development is that the whole world should enjoy an economic system that is prosperous, that is fair, and that is environmentally sustainable. So the idea of sustainable development is to combine the economic objectives, the social justice, and the environmental sustainability. It's an extremely important concept because it basically points to a good life for everybody on the planet.
And the United Nation's member states- all 193 of them -have twice confirmed the commitment to sustainable development. First in 2015 with the Agenda 2030, which is where the 17 sustainable development goals are laid out. And then in the Paris Climate Agreement. Now we need to achieve what we have set out to do. If we do, the world will be a much better place.
China has made major contributions to sustainable development. First and foremost, by ending poverty within China. A nd second, by helping other countries with basic infrastructure through projects like the Belt and Road Initiative. And these are extremely important and positive contributions.
I look forward to China playing a leading role in cleaning up the pollution now. Because part of sustainable development is moving to a green set of technologies, we need to move to low carbon energy, wind and solar power, electric vehicles, 5G.
China has great capacity in all of these areas. And for its own clean air and its own environment, as well as for the world's environment, China's leadership is extremely important in order to achieve environmental sustainability .
If you look at China's very rapid growth, especially since 1978, it's been based on three basic pillars. One is investing in health and education of the people. The second has been building infrastructure, so that there is power, electricity, connectivity, roads, rail, airports – all as the basis for productivity. And the third is to enable business to create new products and new markets.
So it's been really three kinds of investment - investment in people, investment in infrastructure and investment in the business economy.
And I would say that China by contributing to the infrastructure in Africa, for example, with electrification in many countries, is helping those countries achieve the same kind of success that China achieved. That is economic development based on these interconnected kinds of investments.
So I'm very pleased with initiatives like the Belt and Road Initiative or with the China's investments in African infrastructure as being part of this solution for getting out of poverty and therefore achieving sustainable development.
Globally, there has been a lot of progress up until this year in fighting p overty. The rate of global poverty from 1990 at around 30% or so declines to around 10% by 2015. China played a huge role in that because China was overwhelmingly poor. And then it has already largely eliminated poverty by 2015, and now has eliminated all extreme p overty as of this year.
But we had two problems. One, there were still hundreds of millions of people living in real desperation, especially in Africa. And second, COVID-19 has been a big setback. Definitely, this is a very, very serious crisis for poor people in many parts of the world.
So the challenge is not only to complete a process that was underway, but also to stop this pandemic so that we can recover some of the lost ground this year.
So I see a three-part process. One is ending the epidemic as soon as possible using the methods that China has used. Hopefully, we'll have vaccines, China, the United States, and others that could become available in the coming year or two. That's one part.
The second part is to broaden economic development through initiatives like the Belt and Road Initiative. And there, as I mentioned, the key is that these should be anti-pollution, sustainable, renewable energy based initiatives.
And then the third should be targeted help to those places that have still high entrenched poverty, maybe because of their geography or their history. They don't have the basic infrastructure and they need special kind of help.
And so here's where China is so good developing an integrated framework of combining infrastructure, human investments and business development. And I think that China could use its capacity to do that in parts of the world where there still is entrenched poverty.
When I was asked to visit western China in the early 2000s, the idea was that China would use its development planning and its public investments to spur growth in places that had been left behind by the first 20 years of rapid growth. And China did that.
Well, there are still places on the planet that have been left behind, in the Sahara of Africa, for example. And China is very good at putting together big investment projects, big industrial projects and social development, health and education and so forth. With that combination, even these very-hard-to-solve places can also escape from poverty.
Of course, SDG 3, which is health for all, is in the forefront, because stopping the pandemic is a necessary condition for achieving the rest.
I would say that a second major, a goal that we have learned in recent months is the importance of access to digital technology and electricity because it has been the digital world that has provided so many crucial tools for us, for not only stopping the epidemic, but continuing our work and continuing our services like health and education during this period.
So 5G is all the more important. Connectivity is all the more important.
And China's the world's biggest internet user, that's been a big feature of being able to contain the epidemic. There are places that need that infrastructure very much now. And I hope that Huawei and others can help to provide it, because this becomes even more important than we recognized in the past.
Then a crisis that I think is extremely important to note is that because of the pandemic, hundreds of millions of children have not been in school and we know that this is crucial for their future. And Jack Ma among others has been championing education for young children, especially in Africa.
We need to be very creative now to help all of these kids catch up again, to get back to school, and to use online learning, digital learning and so forth in order to overcome the big obstacles that came with the pandemic this year. So there's a lot of work to do.
Then, when we think about the global recovery, I would add that the Belt and Road Initiative and the European Union recovery fund, both point to new public investments to help global recovery.
我希望看到欧洲和中国在这方面共同合作，建立一个欧亚的可持续的基础设施 可再生能源、能源互联、电动汽车 、智能交通等等。
And I would like to see Europe and China cooperate on building an Eurasian sustainable infrastructure, renewable energy, energy interconnection, electric vehicles, smart transport and so forth.
I think there's a big future through public investments in exactly the kinds of technologies that China is pioneering. If we cooperate with the European Union and the African Union and ASEAN and other parts of the world, we really can achieve an incredible amount now, not only to stop this pandemic, but to also use all of these new technologies to make a better world. To ensure that everybody can have access to education, health care, and many other basic services. This is all possible right now.
The cold war is the worst idea around. It's the last thing we need. We need multilateral cooperation.
Not only was China together with the United States in the founding of the UN, but if we look at another important UN document - the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, it talks about economic, social, cultural, political, civil rights.
This is also a document that was made with very important Chinese input. It's got a lot of Confucian ideas in it, because one of the great scholars contributed to it. He was often called one of the main authors of the Universal Declaration and was a great Chinese scholar, also trained in part at my university - Columbia University.
So I think there's so much we should do together. And I personally believe China is one of the world's great civilizations. It has so much to offer. And the UN is exactly the spirit in which this can be offered, that we should use this occasion to re-dedicate ourselves to the very core of the UN, which is human dignity, peace and sustainable development.
These are great concepts. Nothing divides our countries on those concepts. They are completely shared concepts for everybody. And so we should work together to achieve them.
The situation is very dangerous and it's mostly the result of US politicians and some US officials who are very extremely nationalistic. And they take the view that the United States needs to be without any global competition and has to be the dominant country in the world. And many Americans believe that this is somehow even a God-given right of Americans to be the dominant country.
It's a very dangerous idea, because we should be looking for a world in which prosperity is shared everywhere.
And it's a simple arithmetical fact that as China becomes more prosperous, because there are more people in China than in the United States, it will become a bigger economy than the United States. That's not something I worry about. This is just natural that prosperity is shared.
Of course, China will be the largest economy, because it has the most people, together with India, and has a rapidly rising income. But this has made a lot of American politicians very disorganized in their thinking. And especially if you are like Trump, who is a very virulent nationalist. It's only America. It's not about the world. This is the reaction. It's, in my opinion, very dangerous and very destructive.
But in the meantime, I don't think that China should also be pulled into the American controversy so much, because there are 193 countries in the UN and that means other than the US and China, there are 191 other countries.
And I would urge China to have good relations with those other 191 countries, because that will make the world safer and make the world better for China, too.
We need cooperation. And the United States is in a very non-cooperative mood right now - anti-cooperative, but I wouldn't let that provoke China to become anti-cooperative also. I would rather see China become even more cooperative with other countries to point out the difference with the behaviour of one coun try that says America first, but China says the whole world together. And I think that this is the right approach.
Well, we face a very complex challenge and we should approach them with rationality and with seriousness. And so if it's COVID-19, or if it's climate change, or if it's fighting poverty, the goal should be to solve these problems through rational cooperation.
And rational cooperation means good analysis, and then cooperative implementation. COVID-19 is not a case for conflict. It's a case for cooperation. We need to end this virus, get it under control everywhere. This kind of change can only be solved if we're acting cooperatively.
And so, the problem is when politicians like Trump, try to stir up fear and hate. Unfortunately, in our human nature, it's possible to do that with many people. And then the situation can be very dangerous.
I'm hoping that we'll have the opportunity soon to reset normal, constructive relations. And what I would recommend is serious work as our two countries, the United States and China, round the year, at a very professional level, working together on all of the issues of common interest, not just a meeting at the G20 once a year, but the US, China, European Union, and others who want to partner cooperative, ongoing, professional intensive problem solving. Because if we did that, there's hardly a problem on the planet that we couldn't solve together.
Well, I personally take note of the fact that China in its modern history and in its tradition has been a stable country for longer than any other place in the world. And it has not in the last forty years,for example, been engaged in any war overseas, and one brief war before that.
But in the meantime, the United States has been engaged in probably about a dozen wars since 1980. So I think that there's no question that we can have a peaceful world, and that it is in China's interest for peace, and it's in America's interest for peace also.
And when people claim that China's an aggressive country, well, that's ridiculous. I say, look in the mirror.
And let's understand that we shouldn't be making accusations, we should be constructively discussing issues.
And the US has launched a lot more wars, unfortunately, in the last 40 years than any other major power. And that's a big problem, because war has not solved any of the political problems that led to those conflicts at all. So it's just a bad, outdated, antiquated policy to view political issues through military means.
The problem is that when you have this kind of very heated rhetoric, we can end up in a very dangerous arms race, and we can end up with accidental confrontations.
All of this worries me a lot, because the last cold war that we had, the United States with the Soviet Union, was a very dangerous period, and a huge waste of human effort. And it led to a lot of conflict and on a couple of occasions to near complete global disaster. So we don't want to go anywhere close to that history again.
University means the universe. It means that everything included. And so at a university, global cooperation is very normal. And throughout the history of universities for hundreds of years, in fact, thousands of years, universities have been connected with each other.
And I direct for the United Nations, a network of universities called the Sustainable Development Solutions Network that has many Chinese universities as partners, for example, and this is normal.
But then as part of this very, very bad idea of the extreme nationalism of Trump, they're trying to stop this kind of cooperation right now because they say, China's taking our technology, as if it's American technology rather than world know-how. And as if somehow you can stop the spread of knowledge by shutting a visa. It's a very self-defeating and dangerous process because we need the interconnections.
I'm so proud of my students that I've had from China for four decades who are now senior officials and leaders in finance and in other sectors. And they make me very proud. They were extremely nice young people when I first met them. Now they're extremely nice older people and very, very successful. And so this has been one of the great points of contact.