Acting to safeguard world peace
Chinese President Xi Jinping has come up with a new global security proposal that upholds the principle of “indivisible security,” a concept also endorsed by Russia, calling out Cold War mentality, hegemonism and power politics as issues that would endanger world peace and exacerbate security challenges in the 21st century. In his video speech to the annual Boao Asia Forum on the southern Chinese island of Hainan, President Xi said, “We should uphold the principle of indivisibility of security, build a balanced, effective and sustainable security architecture, and oppose the building of national security on the basis of insecurity in other countries.” Xi also emphasized the sovereignty and territorial integrity of all nations, as well as their right to choose their own development paths and social systems. Citing an old saying from the “Guanzi” collection of ancient Chinese writings “Stability brings a country prosperity while instability leads a country to poverty,” Xi said in his speech that security is the precondition for development.
As enunciated by Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Le Yucheng, the Global Security Initiative (GSI) is aimed at creating an Asian security framework that replaces “confrontation, alliance and a zero-sum approach with dialogue, partnership and win-win results.”
What does it say?
The GSI stresses to stay committed to the vision of common, comprehensive, cooperative and sustainable security, and work together to maintain world peace and security. It rejects the Cold War mentality, opposes unilateralism and says no to group politics and bloc confrontation. It also opposes the pursuit of one’s own security at the cost of others’ security or the wanton use of unilateral sanctions and long-arm jurisdiction, rejects double standards, and stays committed to peacefully resolving differences and disputes between countries through dialogue and consultations, and supports efforts conducive to the peaceful settlement of crises.
The GSI’s core concept is that of a shared, comprehensive, cooperative and sustainable security. The proposal also adheres to respecting the sovereignty and territorial integrity of all countries, upholds the purposes and principles of the UN Charter, and is aimed at resolving disputes through peaceful means.
It also takes into account the security concerns of all countries as a country’s security cannot be guaranteed at the expense of another country’s security, nor can regional security be guaranteed by expanding military blocs. The security interests of all countries are equal and interdependent, and should not be ignored and systematically violated over time.
In his keynote speech at “Seeking Peace and Promoting Development: An Online Dialogue of Global Think Tanks of 20 Countries,” on May 06, China’s Vice Foreign Minister Le Yucheng, highlighted the following five priorities of the GSI:
1. It is important to stay committed to international law and universally recognized norms of international relations, and reject the attempt to replace international rules with “house rules”. [In April], three Chinese astronauts safely returned to Earth after completing their space mission. The Earth they saw from space looks just like a small globe. In this global village, we are all neighbours who share weal and woe. As we live side by side day and night, naturally we need to respect each other, treat one another as equals and abide by common rules. Major countries, in particular, must lead by the power of their example, not by the example of their power or claim “exceptionalism”. They should not practice double standards or see themselves as superior to others. They should not ask others to respect sovereignty while they themselves meddle in the internal affairs of others. They should not criticize others for violating international law while they themselves apply international rules selectively or create another set of the so-called “rules-based order” in an attempt to place their own “house rules” above international law. Such acts only give international law and rules a bad name and undermine them.
2. It is important to stay committed to the principle of indivisible security, and reject the attempt to pursue one’s own security at the expense of others. Quite a few Western strategists sounded the alarm on Ukraine a long time ago. They argued that pushing a nuclear power into a corner is like taking a stick and poking a bear in the eye, and that bear is probably not going to simply put up with it. Obviously, no country should build its security at the cost of others or choose a path that only serves itself but makes things difficult for others. We the humanity have long been a community of indivisible security. As such, we must uphold the vision of common, comprehensive, cooperative and sustainable security, reject zero-sum games, competition and confrontation, take seriously the security of others, and safeguard the common security of all. Only by doing so can one achieve one’s own security.
3. It is important to stay committed to global solidarity and cooperation, and reject the attempt to revive bloc politics and ideological confrontation. We the Chinese believe that “a family prospers only when it enjoys harmony”. Strength comes from unity. The world today is experiencing great change and turmoil and confronting many risks and challenges. What is needed the most is for countries around the world to pull together with common purpose and efforts. The challenges cannot be tackled by any country or exclusive group going it alone. Any wishful attempt to preserve hegemony, gang up, form exclusive circles, pin undesirable labels on others, spread the ridiculous “democracy versus autocracy” narrative, or stoke major-country rivalry and divide the world on ideological grounds would land humanity in bigger trouble, rather than helping to address the common challenges facing humanity. There has been no shortage of such lessons in recent years. Under the current circumstances, the international community should choose dialogue over confrontation, solidarity over division, and justice over hegemony. We should join hands to uphold international peace and security together.
4. It is important to stay committed to opposing unilateral sanctions, and reject the attempt to turn a regional crisis into a global one. History has shown time and again that unilateral sanctions have never been an effective solution to any problem. They are just a tool of hegemony and power politics, always adding fuel to the fire and magnifying and complicating the existing problems. In recent months, the US and other Western countries have imposed sweeping sanctions on Russia, crippling an already languishing world economy and unleashing unbearable pain on developing countries. It is the people of the world that are being hurt by the sanctions. The IMF and some other international institutions estimate that this year, global economic growth will slow to 3.6 percent and global trade growth will be slashed nearly by half; three-fifths of the low-income countries will be thrown into a debt crisis and 1.7 billion people worldwide will be impoverished. The majority of countries are not supportive of the sanctions on Russia. Using the world economy, the development of countries and the wellbeing of their peoples as a weapon or a tool and creating and even aggravating multiple crises in order to tackle an existing crisis will shake the foundation of the international economic system and cause turmoil around the world.
5. It is important to stay committed to security and stability in the Asia-Pacific, and reject the attempt to allow turmoil or war to arise in this region. The Asia-Pacific is a promising land of peace, stability, cooperation and development. This desirable situation has not fallen into our lap automatically or come as charity from anybody. Rather, it is the result of the joint efforts of countries in the region. The Ukraine crisis reminds us that we must cherish and preserve peace and hold our destiny in our own hands. Recently, some people have called for building “a global Nato”, and Nato is interfering frequently in Asia-Pacific affairs. This is cause for concern to the regional countries. We cannot allow bloc-based confrontation to repeat itself in the Asia-Pacific; we cannot allow certain countries to succeed in their self-serving attempt to drag the Asia-Pacific into conflict; we cannot allow small and medium-sized countries in our region to become the tool or victim of hegemony. Countries both in and outside the region should add splendor rather than trouble to the Asia-Pacific, work to operationalize the new vision on security and the GSI, and find a path to Asia-Pacific security featuring joint contribution, shared benefit and win-win outcome.
The idea of a world-encompassing security mechanism sounds like what China’s ancient emperors might have proposed. Diplomats are under pressure from their home countries to dissect the meaning but are having a hard time: Xi’s speech contained abstract Chinese words and idioms.
Critics assert that the move by President Xi has come at a time when Beijing is getting increasingly concerned that Nato might expand its influence in the Asia-Pacific region, while China’s ‘Belt and Road Initiative’ continues to face numerous geopolitical challenges. They believe that while China continues to remain pretty much closed to the world due to rising Covid cases, President Xi is busy shaping yet another narrative on the security front for how his country plans to forge partnerships through dialogue, after it was subjected to scathing criticism on a global scale for aligning with Russia on the latter’s invasion of Ukraine.
Under the GSI, they argue, Beijing will take steps to bring nations in South Asia under an overarching Asian security architecture of its own as the US increases its influence in this region with the Quad (Quadrilateral Security Dialogue) and AUKUS (a trilateral security pact between Australia, the UK and the US) under the Indo-Pacific Strategic Framework.
The proposal is also intended for a domestic audience as Xi feels the need to burnish his reputation at home ahead of the Chinese Communist Party’s national congress in the fall, when Xi will make a play for a third term as China’s top leader.
At present, the changes in the world, the times, and history are unfolding in an unprecedented way. At a time when unprecedented global changes are combined with a once-in-a-century pandemic, the world is at the crossroads of unity or division, cooperation or confrontation, upholding justice or hegemony. Xi’s emphasis on “true multilateralism” is of great significance for lighting the way forward for international society to move on and promote peaceful development.
The writer is a member of staff.
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