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Opinion

Embodying the Spirit of the Dragon

BEIJING, Feb 8 2024 (IPS) - The Year of the Dragon is upon us.

UN Secretary-General António Guterres said in his message for this Lunar New Year, “The dragon symbolizes energy, wisdom, protection and good luck. We need these qualities to rise to today’s global challenges.”

Indeed, we do. Just consider some of the challenges from the past year.

The persistent drag of COVID-19.

Sluggish economies.

The hottest year on record.

Climate disasters, one after the other.

A rising tide of fake news, fake images, and hate speech.

Risks posed by the malicious use of AI, which grows in sophistication by the day.

Conflicts in Gaza, Sudan, Ukraine and elsewhere, leaving millions highly vulnerable, and sending shock waves all over the world.

Stalled global progress on the Sustainable Development Goals, the world’s to-do list for peace and prosperity. This means that more people will remain without water, electricity, education for their children, or food for their families.

Around the world, people feel despondency and despair.

If ever we needed the spirit of the Dragon, it is now.

Mr. Dennis Francis, President of the UN General Assembly, writes a message of blessing at the National Children’s Center in Beijing. Credit: China National Children’s Center

The Lunar New Year is a perfect occasion to return to the source of our strength. All around the country, people will clean their homes and decorate them in red. There will be fireworks, feasts, family gatherings, and dragon dances.

In these celebrations, the people of China can look to inspire governments everywhere to embody the qualities of the Dragon as we head into the new year.

We saw this at work in the surprise detente between Iran and Saudi Arabia, brokered by China in March 2023 following years of bitter rivalry, and at the COP 28 climate conference last year, when the need to phase out fossil fuels was acknowledged, and the Loss and Damage Fund was agreed upon.

We see this spirit when countries now advocate for trust-building initiatives and international collaboration. These are crucial at a time when so many people around the world are losing faith in global institutions and each other.

This energy will be needed at the Summit of the Future this September at the UN General Assembly in New York. The Summit is a once-in-a-generation opportunity to take stock of the state of the planet and its people. It is a chance to summon all our courage and compassion—together.

It is no longer viable, if it ever was, to address one crisis at a time. As soon as one war ends, another starts. A fire is extinguished in one part of the world, and another is ignited elsewhere. One humanitarian crisis here, and another one there.

To create lasting peace and prosperity, the countries and peoples of the world must come together. We must draw on our shared resources, refine our aspirations, and imagine our future. This is what the Summit of the Future will help make possible.

We at the UN in China look to work closely with the Government of China in preparation for this Summit.

China has an indispensable role to play. After all, China is a model for South-South cooperation, in which developing nations support other developing nations. China is also hard at work to deliver on climate action, having set the goal to achieve peak carbon emissions before 2030 and carbon neutrality before 2060.

Consider this. In 2023, China’s $890bn investment in clean-energy sectors was almost as large as total global investments in fossil fuel supply.

And the people of China are an inspiration for countless others around the world struggling to lift themselves out of extreme poverty.

The UN family in China thanks the country’s people and Government for their endeavours. You embody the spirit of the Dragon.

This year is auspicious for another reason as well. It will mark the 75th anniversary of the establishment of the People’s Republic of China, an important milestone in the nation’s progress.

In honour of the many people who celebrate the Lunar New Year around the world, I am pleased that this year will mark the first time it joins the UN holiday calendar.

On behalf of the UN family in China, I extend our best wishes for the Year of the Dragon. May it be a time of great success, joy, and good fortune. May the Dragon remind us of our ability to create a more promising future for our own families, and the greater human family on the planet we all call home.

Chun Jie Kuai Le.

Siddharth Chatterjee is the United Nations Resident Coordinator in China.

 
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