China’s global security initiative, need of the hour | By Sultan M Hali


China’s global security initiative, need of the hour

THE world is in turmoil, the likes of which had not been seen after the Second World War. Global pandemic COVID-19 took a heavy toll of lives and shattered economies, wars in Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria and now Ukraine have divided the world, human rights abuses in Palestine, India-Occupied Kashmir and other parts of the world persist with impunity. The recent massive earthquakes in Turkey and Syria along with the havoc wreaked by global warming are testing the resolve of governments, people and organizations. The United Nations (UN), established after World War-II on 25 April 1945 with the specific aim of preventing future world wars, maintaining international peace and security, developing friendly relations among nations, achieving international cooperation has not been able to live up to its promise.

At the 59th Munich Security Conference (February 17 to 19 2023) western powers endeavoured to mobilize support for an unfortunate war in Ukraine which could have been avoided through diplomacy and negotiation by addressing Moscow’s apprehensions. The address of Wang Yi, Director of the Office of the Foreign Affairs Commission of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee, reaffirmation of China’s unwavering stance of bringing about a peaceful resolution to the crisis brought a modicum of sanity in the raucous Munich Conference. In this backdrop, China’s Foreign Minister Qin Gang’s Keynote Speech at the Opening Ceremony of the Lanting Forum (21 February 2023), themed: “The Global Security Initiative: China’s Proposal for Solving Security Challenges” was like a whiff of fresh air.

The Global Security Initiative (GSI), which was announced by China’s President Xi Jinping in April 2022 at the BOAO Forum, is meant to ‘uphold the principle of indivisible security, build a balanced, effective and sustainable security architecture and oppose the building of national security based on insecurity in other countries’. Qin Gang officially unveiled the parameters of GSI, which upholds vision of common, comprehensive, cooperative and sustainable security, and advocates a new path to security featuring dialogue over confrontation, partnership over alliance and win-win over zero-sum.

The core concepts and principles of GSI emphasize that the sovereignty and territorial integrity of all countries must be respected. They stress the importance of sovereign equality and non-interference in internal affairs to be the basic principles of international law and the most fundamental norms governing contemporary international relations. China focuses on the obligation to abide by the purposes and principles of the UN Charter. The GSI elaborates the purposes and principles of the UN Charter which embody the deep reflection by people around the world on the bitter lessons of the two world wars. An essential consideration set by Xi Jinping is to take the legitimate security concerns of all countries seriously and he accentuates humanity to be an indivisible security community. GSI highlights that the security of one country should not come at the expense of that of others. Another essential contemplation is staying committed to peacefully resolving differences and disputes between countries through dialogue and consultation. War and sanctions are no fundamental solution to disputes; only dialogue and consultation are effective in resolving differences. The Concept Paper enunciates the commitment to maintaining security in both traditional and non-traditional domains. It is noteworthy that all the six commitments are intertwined and not mutually exclusive. Simultaneously, the GSI articulates the priorities of cooperation, highlighting China’s initiative to conduct bilateral and multilateral security cooperation with all countries and international and regional organizations and actively promotes coordination of security concepts and convergence of interests.

Thus, to achieve the ends of the pursuit of mutual learning and complementarity and to jointly promote world peace and tranquillity, a number of significant steps have been identified. These call for actively participating in formulating a New Agenda for Peace and other proposals put forth by the UN Secretary-General as well as supporting UN efforts to enhance conflict prevention and fully harness the peace-building architecture to assist post-conflict states in peace-building. Secondly, the promotion of coordination and sound interaction among major countries and building a major country relationship featuring peaceful coexistence, overall stability and balanced development are endorsed because they shoulder particularly important responsibilities of maintaining international peace and security.

Thirdly, it is recommended to firmly uphold the consensus that “a nuclear war cannot be won and must never be fought”. The fourth acclamation is for implementing the resolution of Promoting International Cooperation on Peaceful Uses in the Context of International Security adopted by the 76th session of the UN General Assembly. The next step calls for the promotion of political settlement of international and regional hotspot issues and encouraging the countries concerned to overcome differences and resolve hotspots through candid dialogue and communication. Regional cooporation like ASEAN, African Union et al have been named for regional security cooperation mechanisms and architecture.

Resolutions of flashpoints have been named for realizing peace and stability. In the same vein, support for Latin American and Caribbean countries in actively fulfilling commitments stated in the Proclamation of Latin America and the Caribbean as a Zone of Peace, and support the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States and other regional and sub-regional organizations in playing an active role in upholding regional peace and security and properly handling regional hotspots.

The legitimate concerns of the Pacific island countries in regard to climate change, natural disasters and public health have been endorsed. Strengthening maritime dialogue and exchange, practical cooperation, proper handling of maritime differences, and working together to tackle transnational crimes at sea including piracy and armed robbery, so as to jointly safeguard maritime peace and tranquility and sea lane security has been emphasized. China strongly supports the consolidation of the UN’s role as the central coordinator in the global fight against terrorism, affirms support the international community in fully implementing the UN General Assembly and Security Council counter-terrorism resolutions and the UN Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy, and jointly cracking down on all terrorist organizations and individuals designated by Security Council.

International cooperation in the field of information security has been strongly emphasized along with a call for strengthening biosecurity risk management as well as bringing focus on artificial intelligence (AI) and other emerging technologies to prevent and manage potential security risks. China’s prowess in outer space research is also motivating international cooperation on outer space and safeguarding the international order in outer space underpinned by international law. The lessons learnt from the outbreak of COVID-19 have not been forgotten and support for the World Health Organization in playing a leading role in global governance in public health, and effectively coordinating and mobilizing global resources to jointly respond to major global infectious diseases has been emphasized along with calling for safeguards for global food and energy security.

Climate change has received ample attention but equally importantly, the GSI not only points out the issues and avenues necessitating attention, but also names various platforms and mechanisms of cooperation. Prominent among them are the UN, Shanghai Cooperation Organization, BRICS cooperation, and various other regional cooperation organizations. In a nutshell, GSI not only promotes openness and inclusiveness but welcomes and looks forward to the participation of all parties to jointly enrich its substance and actively explore new forms and areas of cooperation. Perhaps the world will be a safer place if the GSI is understood and implemented sans biases.

—The writer is a Retired Group Captain of PAF, who has written several books on China.
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