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'We must learn from the past'

Updated: 2015-09-05 07:21
By ZHANG YUNBI (China Daily)

After Japan complains, UN chief says 'looking for a better future' also purpose of Beijing visit

'We must learn from the past'

Ban Ki-moon

Amid Japan's complaints over his China visit, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon warned that it is difficult to move in the right direction if the lessons of history are not understood correctly.

The UN chief, who attended Thursday's V-Day commemorations, including a parade and a grand reception at which dozens of foreign leaders gathered, made the comments in an interview on Friday with Chinese media in Beijing.

Senior Japanese officials, including Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga, urged Ban to stay "neutral" and not to visit China at this time, since it would indicate, they said, looking to the past rather than the future.

Ban said, "I made it quite clear publicly that it is important to learn from the past.

"If you do not learn correctly from the past, it would be difficult to move ahead toward the right direction. So learning from the past and also looking for a better future-that is the main purpose of my visit to China this time," he said.

Ban observed that there are "some misconceptions that the UN secretary-general or UN organizations are neutral". Rather, Ban said, the UN is "an impartial body".

"When you see something which is terribly wrong, I have to criticize, I have to make it correct. In that regard ... I can be impartial in discharging my duty as the secretary-general. That's what I believe my job requires," he said.

Recalling the Thursday parade in Tian'anmen Square, Ban said that what impressed him the most was to see the veterans sitting in the vehicles with their chests "full of medals".

"They are maybe getting old, but I found that their spirit was still very strong, and their contribution and the sacrifice should never be forgotten," Ban said.

The UN chief noted that the event is also coupled with ceremonies commemorating the 70th anniversary of the founding of the United Nations in 1945 "from the atrocities and tragedies of WWII".

"The UN was established out of such an experience; it is a result of WWII. So we were committed to not repeating these ... tragic situations. That's why I'm here," he said.

Also in the past 70 years, China has risen from a weak country to the second-largest global economy and "should be very proud", and the pride and achievement "should be accompanied by greater responsibility", Ban said.

He spoke highly of the transcontinental Belt and Road Initiative, first proposed by President Xi Jinping, as well as the China-led Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, both of which he said are conducive to sustainable development.

Since the UN headquarters in New York will host a summit of global leaders at the end of September, Ban said that the Sustainable Development Agenda, expected to be adopted by all attending leaders, clearly states the way that 7 billion people on the planet can "live together harmoniously".

Commenting on the Syrian migrants issue, Ban said he is going to convene a UN summit on Sept 30 at the United Nations to discuss it.

A 3-year-old Syrian boy drowned while his family was trying to reach Greece. Ban said that he was "horrified and heartbroken", and that "it is very important that our priority should be given to saving lives".

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