Chop­sticks to­gether hard to break

China is a con­trib­u­tor to Asian sta­bil­ity and seeks co­op­er­a­tion with neigh­bors to build a new re­gional se­cu­rity ar­chi­tec­ture

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - COMMENT - LIU ZHEN­MIN The au­thor is vice-min­is­ter of for­eign af­fairs.

Asia is best known around the world for its con­tri­bu­tion to global eco­nomic growth. Yet for some time, se­cu­rity con­cerns seem to have clouded peo­ple’s think­ing about Asia. So how should we view se­cu­rity in Asia? Is Asia se­cure?

To be fair, Asia has main­tained peace and sta­bil­ity for decades. This has laid the foun­da­tion for eco­nomic de­vel­op­ment and im­proved re­la­tions among Asian coun­tries.

To­day, in­trare­gional trade and in­vest­ment, fi­nan­cial co­op­er­a­tion, ne­go­ti­a­tions on free trade agree­ments, and con­nec­tiv­ity projects are thriv­ing. Eco­nomic in­te­gra­tion is deep­en­ing and co­op­er­a­tion is the main trend in Asia to­day.

But Asia is also faced with myr­iad se­cu­rity chal­lenges, from the lega­cies of the past to non-tra­di­tional se­cu­rity chal­lenges, such as nat­u­ral dis­as­ters, transna­tional crimes, and cy­ber se­cu­rity. In ad­di­tion, the trust deficit re­mains large.

China put for­ward a con­cept of a New Ap­proach to Se­cu­rity in the 1990s. It re­jected old se­cu­rity pat­terns, such as the zero-sum game, mil­i­tary hege­mony and power pol­i­tics, and ad­vo­cates a 3C se­cu­rity ap­proach, namely com­pre­hen­sive se­cu­rity, co­op­er­a­tive se­cu­rity and com­mon se­cu­rity.

Com­pre­hen­sive se­cu­rity rec­og­nizes the mul­ti­fac­eted and in­ter­con­nected na­ture of se­cu­rity, which in­cludes not just mil­i­tary se­cu­rity, but also eco­nomic, fi­nan­cial and food se­cu­rity.

Co­op­er­a­tive se­cu­rity calls for co­op­er­a­tion and par­tic­i­pa­tion by all rel­e­vant par­ties for the so­lu­tion to com­plex se­cu­rity chal­lenges. As Pre­mier Li Ke­qiang said at the East Asia Sum­mit in Oc­to­ber, one can­not break chop­sticks if you bun­dle many of them to­gether. His mes­sage is that ev­ery coun­try has a re­spon­si­bil­ity for re­gional se­cu­rity.

Com­mon se­cu­rity means no coun­try should seek ab­so­lute se­cu­rity for it­self or its own se­cu­rity at the cost of oth­ers. They should con­sider the se­cu­rity of oth­ers while seek­ing their own se­cu­rity.

Re­gional eco­nomic in­te­gra­tion pro­vides the foun­da­tion for Asian se­cu­rity. De­vel­op­ment and se­cu­rity are mu­tu­ally re­in­forc­ing. We can­not achieve one with­out the other. For many coun­tries, de­vel­op­ment is also the big­gest se­cu­rity in­ter­est.

Good re­la­tions among ma­jor coun­tries are a cru­cial fac­tor for Asian se­cu­rity, and they should work to­gether to tackle global chal­lenges. Re­gional mech­a­nisms, such as the Asia Re­gional Fo­rum, the As­so­ci­a­tion of South­east Asian Na­tions De­fence Min­is­ters Meet­ing-Plus and the East Asia Sum­mit, should play a big­ger role in non­tra­di­tional se­cu­rity co­op­er­a­tion.

As a long-term ob­jec­tive, we should fos­ter a new se­cu­rity ar­chi­tec­ture. There is a grow­ing aware­ness that se­cu­rity co­op­er­a­tion in our re­gion has lagged far be­hind eco­nomic co­op­er­a­tion, and that a re­gional se­cu­rity ar­chi­tec­ture that caters to the needs and in­ter­ests of Asian coun­tries should be es­tab­lished.

Many use­ful ideas have been put for­ward by var­i­ous par­ties, we be­lieve this ar­chi­tec­ture should be based on a new se­cu­rity ap­proach and fol­low prin­ci­ples such as con­sen­sus, non-in­ter­fer­ence and ac­com­mo­dat­ing the com­fort level of all par­ties, and we should start with func­tional co­op­er­a­tion to ac­cu­mu­late mu­tual un­der­stand­ing and trust.

What role will China play in Asian se­cu­rity?

China is still a de­vel­op­ing coun­try. For the fore­see­able fu­ture, de­vel­op­ment will re­main the top pri­or­ity for China and the fo­cus will be on im­ple­ment­ing the pro­gram of re­form and open­ing-up drawn up at the Third Plenum of the 18th Cen­tral Com­mit­tee of the Com­mu­nist Party of China.

China has achieved de­vel­op­ment un­der the cur­rent in­ter­na­tional or­der. To keep the or­der sta­ble while grad­u­ally re­new­ing and re­form­ing it serves China’s in­ter­ests, as well as those of other stake­hold­ers in the re­gion.

Pres­i­dent Xi Jin­ping used four words to de­scribe China’s pol­icy to­ward its neigh­bors: close­ness, sin­cer­ity, shar­ing and in­clu­sive­ness. He has also re­it­er­ated China’s com­mit­ment to build­ing friend­ship and part­ner­ships with its neigh­bors.

In 2012, China’s FDI in Asia amounted to nearly $55 bil­lion, ac­count­ing for more than 70 per­cent of China’s to­tal over­seas in­vest­ment. This year, China’s new lead­er­ship has pro­posed many new co­op­er­a­tion projects with neigh­bor­ing coun­tries, such as the Silk Road Eco­nomic Belt, the 21st Cen­tury Mar­itime Silk Road, es­tab­lish­ing an Asia In­fra­struc­ture In­vest­ment Bank, up­grad­ing the China-ASEAN part­ner­ship, and eco­nomic cor­ri­dors link­ing Bangladesh, In­dia, Myan­mar and China.

The eco­nomic in­te­gra­tion of Asia is set to en­ter a new era of de­vel­op­ment, and China will only play a big­ger role in it.

China is firmly com­mit­ted to build­ing a new type of re­la­tion­ship be­tween ma­jor coun­tries. Rus­sia was the first coun­try Xi vis­ited af­ter he took of­fice, and the China-Rus­sia com­pre­hen­sive strate­gic part­ner­ship has set an ex­am­ple for good re­la­tions be­tween ma­jor coun­tries.

China and the United States agreed to build a new type of ma­jor coun­try re­la­tion­ship based on the prin­ci­ples of no con­flict or con­fronta­tion, mu­tual re­spect for each other’s core in­ter­ests and ma­jor con­cerns, and closer co­op­er­a­tion for peace, sta­bil­ity and de­vel­op­ment in the Asia-Pa­cific re­gion and the world at large.

Nat­u­rally, this will not be plain sail­ing. But we owe it to our­selves and to the re­gion to avoid the his­tor­i­cal trap of a con­flict be­tween ma­jor pow­ers. We hope US Vi­cePres­i­dent Joe Bi­den’s visit to China will con­trib­ute to greater mu­tual un­der­stand­ing be­tween the two coun­tries.

China will con­tinue to sup­port ASEAN com­mu­nity build­ing and ASEAN cen­tral­ity in re­gional co­op­er­a­tion. China and ASEAN coun­tries are mak­ing joint ef­forts to im­ple­ment the Dec­la­ra­tion of Con­duct of Par­ties in the South China Sea com­pre­hen­sively and ef­fec­tively and will push for­ward dis­cus­sions on a code of con­duct in a pos­i­tive and pru­dent man­ner.

China will not take provoca­tive ac­tions in its ter­ri­to­rial dis­putes with other coun­tries, but nei­ther will it ac­cept provo­ca­tions against China’s ba­sic prin­ci­ples.

China’s ac­tiv­i­ties in the Diaoyu Is­lands area are le­git­i­mate ex­er­cises of its ju­ris­dic­tion over th­ese is­lands and should not be seen as an at­tempt to change the sta­tus quo. China’s es­tab­lish­ment of the Air De­fense Iden­ti­fi­ca­tion Zone in the East China Sea is con­sis­tent with in­ter­na­tional law and in­ter­na­tional prac­tice. More than 20 coun­tries in­clud­ing the US, Ja­pan and the Repub­lic of Korea have cre­ated ADIZs since the 1950s. China and Ja­pan should strengthen di­a­logue to en­sure avi­a­tion safety and avoid mis­takes in the over­lap­ping ar­eas. Other coun­tries should not read too much into or over­re­act to the ADIZ.

China re­mains com­mit­ted to the de­nu­cle­ariza­tion of the Korean Penin­sula and we ac­tively par­tic­i­pate in the peace and re­con­struc­tion process in Afghanistan. We will host the Fourth For­eign Min­is­ters’ Con­fer­ence of the Is­tan­bul Process on Afghanistan in 2014.

China is ready to ac­cept more re­spon­si­bil­ity and pro­vide more pub­lic goods for se­cu­rity for our re­gion. As a main user of sea lanes, China is ready to con­trib­ute to main­tain­ing the se­cu­rity of sea lanes in rel­e­vant seas and oceans.

The re­cent su­per typhoon that hit the Philip­pines has once again re­minded us of the need to ar­tic­u­late a re­gional mech­a­nism for dis­as­ter relief. In ad­di­tion to as­sis­tance in cash and in kind, China sent med­i­cal teams and the Hos­pi­tal Ship Peace Ark to join relief ef­forts. We are also ready to make a greater con­tri­bu­tion to re­gional ca­pac­ity build­ing on dis­as­ter man­age­ment, in­clud­ing work­ing to­gether with Malaysia to host the ASEAN Re­gional Fo­rum Dis­as­ter Relief Ex­er­cise in 2015.

The more China de­vel­ops, the greater its need for a sta­ble and a friendly neigh­bor­ing en­vi­ron­ment. A stronger China in turn will boost peace, de­vel­op­ment and se­cu­rity in Asia.

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