"Hang together, or hang separately," former UN business leader upholds multilateralism

Source: Xinhua| 2019-11-27 19:24:50|Editor: huaxia
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The national flag of People's Republic of China is seen at the United Nations headquarters in New York, Oct. 25, 2016. (Xinhua/Li Muzi)

"'Hang together' means we must stick together. 'Hang separately' means we might be executed separately. Unity is so important that we must adhere to (it)," says John W. Allen.

by Xinhua writer Wang Jiangang

UNITED NATIONS, Nov. 27 (Xinhua) -- For John W. Allen, former vice chairman of the United Nations Business Council, multilateralism is not an alternative, but a matter of "hang together or hang separately."

"Multilateralism is not an alternative. It is an imperative. Unless we work together as members of the human race -- the only race that counts -- time will run out," said Allen, who is also chairman and chief executive of the New York-based Greater China Corporation.

Chinese peacekeepers march during a medal ceremony in Hanniyah village, southern Lebanon, April 3, 2019. (Xinhua)


Many attribute the "hang together or hang separately" quotation to Benjamin Franklin, one of the founding fathers of the United States, who allegedly made the famous warning after the signing of the Declaration of Independence in 1776, Allen told Xinhua in a recent interview.

The quote "encapsulated the urgency and gravity of the situation in that summer" when unity was essential to achieving victory in the U.S. Revolutionary War, Allen explained, adding that such wise words stressing unity and cooperation are true more than ever for an evolving world.

"'Hang together' means we must stick together. 'Hang separately' means we might be executed separately. Unity is so important that we must adhere to (it)," said Allen.

Highlighting the importance of international cooperation, Allen said that "through global communication, every person can contribute to finding solutions to any problem we face, both large and small -- and to be rewarded for doing so both financially and in terms of personal recognition."

"We need to rise above self-imposed differences in race, gender, religion, language and even nationality, that keep us apart, and realize that we have a highest common denominator, and that is as members of the human race," he said.

"Without this perspective, our civilized world is in jeopardy," Allen noted.

A demonstration is held to protest against U.S. President Donald Trump's decision to withdraw from the Paris Agreement outside the White House in Washington D.C., June 1, 2017. (Xinhua/Yan Liang)


Allen used to head the international investment subsidiary of the Bank of Boston and was assistant to James D. Wolfensohn, who later became the president of the World Bank.

Talking of the many complicated and interlinked problems facing the world, Allen said multilateralism is the only pathway. "We don't have a plan B."

"Unilateralism is very dangerous. It will tear apart our human society. Therefore, we should be on high alert and guard against this clamor," he noted.

"Discontent with globalization is a key factor behind the temptation to advance policy goals through unilateral actions rather than by working together," said Allen.

Commenting on the pros and cons of globalization, Allen said that "globalization, on the whole, has been producing positive results. We should not go backwards to unilateralism only because we are dissatisfied with some aspects of globalization, including foreign competition and surge in migration."

"The multilateral processes in place since the Second World War have underpinned the growing openness and interconnectedness of our economies," he said. "We should uphold the established processes and consult with each other on major issues facing the humanity."

Allen also commended the multilateral approach that Chinese leaders are taking to deal with global challenges.

Noting the ongoing trade tension between China and the United States, Allen said he believed that dialogue and communication is "the only way out" for problems between the two economic giants.

He called on the two countries to "stick to multilateralism" and "set a good example for the rest of the world, which places high hopes on our two countries."

"Let's join forces and combat the threats and challenges we are commonly facing," said Allen.