Co­op­er­a­tion key to re­gional se­cu­rity

China Daily (Latin America Weekly) - - Views - The author is a se­nior colonel and di­rec­tor of the Cen­ter for Se­cu­rity Stud­ies, the Min­istry of Na­tional De­fense.

How can we guar­an­tee se­cu­rity in the Asia-Pa­cific? First, sound in­ter­ac­tions among ma­jor coun­tries hold the key. It is no ex­ag­ger­a­tion to say that the Asia-Pa­cific can en­joy sta­bil­ity only when Sino-US re­la­tions re­main sta­ble. China up­holds non­con­flict, non-con­fronta­tion, mu­tual re­spect and win-win co­op­er­a­tion with the United States, which on the one hand fo­cuses on bi­lat­eral re­la­tions, and on the other hand ac­com­mo­dates the se­cu­rity of Asi­aPa­cific and even the whole world.

China speaks highly of the pos­i­tive progress in cri­sis man­age­ment made by the two coun­tries in re­cent years, but we have also noted that over the past year and more, the US has not only re­in­forced its sur­veil­lance against and re­con­nais­sance of China by air­craft and ships, but also in­creased its mil­i­tary ac­tiv­i­ties in the South China Sea, pos­ing a chal­lenge to China’s sovereignty and ter­ri­to­rial in­tegrity. This is in­con­sis­tent with the calm­ing si­t­u­a­tion in the South China Sea as well as the US claim that it will not take sides on the South China Sea is­sue.

As an ex­tra-re­gional coun­try, the US has be­come a prom­i­nent fac­tor of in­sta­bil­ity on the is­sue, which has im­peded ef­fec­tive co­op­er­a­tion be­tween China and the US within the Asia-Pa­cific mul­ti­lat­eral mech­a­nisms.

Se­cond, any re­gional se­cu­rity ar­chi­tec­ture should be open and in­clu­sive. In­deed, there are mil­i­tary al­liances left over by the Cold War in the Asia-Pa­cific, but the al­lied coun­tries are only a mi­nor­ity not ma­jor­ity, so the Cold War men­tal­ity that de­fines re­la­tions by ide­ol­ogy and friend or foe has long been out­dated. Un­der no pre­text can the ex­pan­sion of mil­i­tary al­liance rep­re­sent the trend of the times.

We have also taken note of the “Indo-Pa­cific” con­cept raised by some coun­tries. We be­lieve any new ini­tia­tive should pro­mote its trans­parency, in­clu­sive­ness and open­ness, move in the di­rec­tion of global eco­nomic in­te­gra­tion, po­lit­i­cal multi-po­lar­ity and shared se­cu­rity, and fur­ther win-win progress of all sides, other­wise it won’t be uni­ver­sally ac­cepted and may turn out to be a mono­logue and a flash in the pan.

Third, com­pared with tra­di­tional se­cu­rity, coun­tries in this re­gion have reached more con­sen­suses on non-tra­di­tional se­cu­rity and made more rel­e­vant en­deav­ors in this re­gard, thus we should con­tinue to give pri­or­ity to co­op­er­a­tion in non­tra­di­tional se­cu­rity fields and grad­u­ally ac­cu­mu­late ex­pe­ri­ence and mu­tual trust. For ex­am­ple, the ASEAN Re­gional Fo­rum, es­tab­lished in 1994, ini­ti­ated mul­ti­lat­eral se­cu­rity di­a­logues among Asia-Pa­cific coun­tries, pro­vid­ing a use­ful plat­form for se­cu­rity di­a­logue and co­op­er­a­tion for its 27 mem­ber states over the past 20-odd years, but it has its lim­i­ta­tions. ASEAN is only one of the pil­lars of the Asia-Pa­cific se­cu­rity ar­chi­tec­ture and can­not dom­i­nate ma­jor coun­try re­la­tion­ships.

The “ASEAN way” re­flects a dis­tinct ASEAN mode of work, but in a way it dis­counts efficiency and im­ple­men­ta­tion. ADMM-Plus (ASEAN De­fense Min­is­ters’ Meet­ing with its eight di­a­logue part­ners), set up in 2010 has made notable progress in im­ple­men­ta­tion, but it still faces prob­lems such as du­pli­cate sub­jects and ex­ces­sive ex­er­cises. What is more, these two mech­a­nisms have over­lap­ping func­tions.

The key to the set­tle­ment of these is­sues lies not only in re­duc­ing the num­ber of meet­ings and ex­er­cises, but also in more prac­ti­cal se­cu­rity co­op­er­a­tion. China highly ap­pre­ci­ates the counter-piracy co­op­er­a­tion in the Sulu Sea among In­done­sia, Malaysia and the Philip­pines.

Philip­pine Pres­i­dent Ro­drigo Duterte once said that he hoped the navies of the Philip­pines and China could stage joint mil­i­tary ex­er­cises in the Sulu Sea. We are open to this and ready to start with hu­man­i­tar­ian as­sis­tance/dis­as­ter re­lief and counter-piracy op­er­a­tion. We also hope that more ASEAN coun­tries and ex­tra-re­gional states can strengthen their co­op­er­a­tion and jointly cope with all the non-tra­di­tional se­cu­rity chal­lenges in the Asia-Pa­cific.

SONG CHEN / CHINA DAILY

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