Cooperation key to regional security
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a minority not majority, so the Cold War mentality that defines relations by ideology and friend or foe has long been outdated.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.