World Insights: China's Global Security Initiative conducive to sustainable security at turbulent times
SINGAPORE, June 5 (Xinhua) -- Chinese State Councilor and Minister of National Defense Li Shangfu on Sunday urged the international community to work together to inject more stability and certainty into turbulent times, while talking about China's Global Security Initiative (GSI) at the 20th Shangri-La Dialogue here.
Calling for dialogue and cooperation to address the pressing security challenges in the Asia-Pacific, delegates and experts at the meeting spoke highly of the GSI, a new path to security featuring dialogue over confrontation, partnership over alliance and win-win over zero-sum.
COMMON NEEDS OF MANKIND
The sustained prosperity and stability of the Asia-Pacific depend on a sound security and development environment, which, however, is being challenged by a sluggish economic recovery, a resurging Cold War mentality, and rising regional conflicts and security threats.
Fiji's Minister for Home Affairs and Immigration Pio Tikoduadua said that geopolitical tensions and rivalries across the globe are spilling into the Pacific region, endangering the security and interests of small island countries like Fiji.
The Global Security Initiative calls for common, comprehensive, cooperative and sustainable security, Li said in his speech at the meeting, putting forward a four-point proposal on how to pursue security cooperation in the Asia-Pacific -- mutual respect should prevail over bullying and hegemony; fairness and justice should transcend the law of the jungle; eliminating conflicts and confrontation through mutual trust and consultation; and preventing bloc confrontation with openness and inclusiveness.
Thong Mengdavid, a research fellow at the Phnom Penh-based Asian Vision Institute, said these approaches demonstrate the GSI's equity, inclusiveness and comprehensiveness, which meets the world's security needs amid today's unprecedented challenges.
"The GSI primarily focuses on creating a community that is peaceful and stable, seeks to advance peacebuilding, and strengthens the spirit of multilateralism and forward-thinking economic growth," he told Xinhua.
Mengdavid said that countries must uphold and support the need for "indivisible peace" in order to encourage sustainable development and improve resilience to both conventional and unconventional security threats.
"Without the old 'Cold War' attitude, while ensuring that the interests and concerns of all parties are taken into account, the GSI may be used as a forum for governments to build constructive conversation and deepen collaboration," he said.
Li also highlighted the importance of seeking consensus and promoting reconciliation and negotiations to manage the differences of disputing parties and avoid confrontation.
His view was shared by many participants including Indonesian Defense Minister Prabowo Subianto, who told a plenary session on Saturday that "in face of the universal threats such as the COVID-19 pandemic and crisis in energy, water and food security, it's imperative for us to overcome our geopolitical rivalries, our territorial disputes through dialogue, negotiations and win-win solutions."
U.S. PARADOX OF WORDS AND ACTIONS
Addressing the opening plenary on Saturday, U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin preached Washington's vision of a "free, and open, and secure Indo-Pacific" within a world of rules and rights.
There is a yawning gap between U.S. high-sounding moralistic posturing and the manifested reality of its invasive foreign policy, said Zhang Chi, associate professor at the National Defense University of China.
Zhang pointed out that one of the paradoxes of the U.S. so-called "Indo-Pacific strategy" is that on the one hand, the United States claims that it is capable of playing a leading role in the Asia-Pacific, but on the other hand, the exclusive multilateralism that it promotes, be it AUKUS or Quad, is a small bloc in U.S. geopolitics. Let alone Washington's "Indo-Pacific Economic Framework for Prosperity," which excludes three of the 10 ASEAN member states.
"It is clear therefore that the U.S. actions are exacerbating confrontations in the Asia-Pacific and instigating conflicts between countries to at large maintain its global hegemony, which could shatter global peace and harm global development," Zhang said.
"When observing the U.S. words and actions, we will not only listen to what it says, but also focus on what it does," said Hoo Chiew-ping, senior lecturer in the Strategic Studies and International Relations Program at the National University of Malaysia.
While lobbying the U.S. efforts to strengthen the "guardrails against conflict" and "to bolster peace, security, and stability in the region," Austin in his speech accused China of continuing to "conduct an alarming number of risky intercepts of U.S. and allied aircraft flying lawfully in international airspace" with "aggressive and unprofessional" flying, and vowed to support the U.S. allies and partners to defend themselves "against coercion and bullying."
In response, Ong Tee Keat, chairman of the Belt and Road Initiative Caucus for the Asia-Pacific, a Malaysian think tank, said that China has been made the "bogeyman" threatening regional and global peace for years, which constitutes the main bulk of the U.S. global strategy in defending its waning primacy across the world.
"This has been the obsessional response of Washington and its allies to the rise of China on both fronts of economics and security," Ong said.
What remains baffling and unconvincing is the U.S.-led West has yet to substantiate its allegations against China and the GSI. This has reduced the provocative labelling to mere name-calling, which contributes nothing to global peace, he said.
Saeed Chaudhry, director of the Islamabad Council for International Affairs in Pakistan, praised China for always performing its duties for a goal of regional security, peace and stability with utter responsibility.
China has never interfered in other states' and regions' internal affairs but always urged parties and stakeholders to solve issues through dialogue, said Chaudhry, citing China's brokering of a peace deal between Iran and Saudi Arabia recently as an example.
ALL COUNTRIES EQUAL IN SECURITY
China stays committed to taking the legitimate security concerns of all countries seriously and believes all countries are equal in terms of security interests, experts at the meeting noted.
"A just and equitable environment for development meets the shared interests of Asia-Pacific countries. Anyone who attempts to fleece the flock or prey on the weak will surely be opposed by countries in the region," Li said in his speech.
Pascal Abb, senior researcher at the Peace Research Institute Frankfurt (PRIF), believes that the GSI differs in many ways from the approaches of Western powers to global security issues, which, like the Belt and Road Initiative, could prove equally competitive among developing countries.
"It stresses the primacy of national sovereignty over interventionism, UN centrality and multilateralism over smaller 'coalitions of the willing,' neutral over coercive mediation, and development over political inclusion," Abb wrote in a blog in March this year.
In a way, the GSI could be viewed as an initiative that could help empower the "Global South" again, Lee Pei May, a political expert at the International Islamic University of Malaysia, told Xinhua.
The purpose of the GSI is to create durable and lasting peace through dialogue and negotiation, which calls on all countries to work together to find peaceful solutions in times of crisis. Such an approach departs from the "old ways" of doing things whereby only a few select states could decide on how to solve global or regional security issues, she said.
"With such privileges accorded to the few states, the decisions and actions taken were not infrequently against the wishes of the global community," said Lee.
The opinions of each and every member of the global community regardless of its national strength are valued, she added.