After a first four-day official visit to China as Director-General of UNESCO, Audrey Azoulay spoke of the structuring cooperation between UNESCO and China, and her meeting with President Xi Jinping at the Daoyutai State Guesthouse, an unprecedent event that marks UNESCO's pivotal role in development for China: " China is a major strategic partner for UNESCO, committed to the Organization and to multilateralism. China's warm welcome and my talk with President Xi Jinping confirm the bases of cooperation between China and UNESCO, which I wholeheartedly welcome. We share the conviction that multilateralism is the only appropriate response to the momentous challenges facing the world. Because humanity as a whole shares a common destiny, we must, now more than ever, work together on issues concerning education, culture, particularly heritage, and new technologies, which link our societies.
The Director-General's visit focused on the three main areas of reinforced cooperation that are essential for the achievement of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals for 2030 :
- Education, with a special emphasis on Africa and women. “I met Professor Peng, the President's wife, who is a UNESCO Special Envoy for the Promotion of Girls' and Women's Education. I must highlight the importance of her commitment to this issue, which is a priority for us because girls' and women's education is a powerful lever of change for the world," said the Director-General.
- Culture: 53 Chinese cultural properties figure on the World Heritage List, among them Mount Fanjingshan, inscribed in 2018. The Director-General visited the site of Xi'An, the Mausoleum of the First Emperor Qin and his magnificent Terracotta Army. The Director-General highlighted "the importance of ensuring that the new silk roads project should not only be economic and technological but also cultural, educational and scientific. UNESCO is already working on this through various programmes and we will deepen our cooperation with China in this area.
- Scientific cooperation on new technological opportunities such as artificial intelligence. After a visit to the Institute of Artificial Intelligence of Tsinghua University, the Director General said: " Our objective with regards to AI is twofold: work on its implications for UNESCO's mandate, particularly in the field of education, and also to nurture the sharing of thoughts on the ethical implications of AI, in line with the work of our Organization on the ethics of science.”