By Rajeswari Pillai Rajagopalan
Chinese President Xi Jinping has presented a new global security proposal that implicitly challenges the logic of the Indo-Pacific strategy, as well as the Quad involving Australia, Japan, India and the United States. Xi proposed a new “global security initiative” at the annual Boao Forum for Asia conference in China on April 21, while calling Cold War mentality, hegemonism and power politics as issues that would “endanger world peace” and “exacerbate China’s security problems”. the 21st century.
According to Xi, the initiative aims to “uphold the principle of indivisible security, build a balanced, effective and sustainable security architecture, and oppose the construction of national security on the basis of insecurity in other countries.” country”. Xi also stressed the sovereignty and territorial integrity of all nations, as well as their right to choose their own development paths and social systems.
After Xi’s speech, Foreign Ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin, in a regular press briefing, sought to clarify what the new initiative means. He said that “with growing threats posed by unilateralism, hegemony and power politics, and growing deficits in peace, security, trust and governance, humanity faces increasingly intractable security problems and threats”. A week later, Chinese State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi, in an article published in People’s Daily, explained that the initiative “contributes to Chinese wisdom in bridging the human peace gap and provides a Chinese solution to face the challenge of international security”. Wang reportedly added that “China will never claim hegemony, seek expansion or spheres of influence, or engage in an arms race.”
Asked about Xi’s speech, a spokesman for the US State Department said that China was maintaining the same line as Russia, “parrot[ing] some of what we heard from the Kremlin,” including the concept of “indivisible security.” Commenting on Xi’s move, an Asian diplomat reportedly said that China tended to “provide an overly broad framework that no one opposes.” The idea is that even if countries don’t fully agree, at least they can’t completely disagree. Then, little by little, they use the framework to nibble away at the United States.
It is entirely possible that the Global Security Initiative (GSI) will begin to play a prominent role in Chinese public diplomacy and foreign policy, so it should be taken seriously. Some initial comments can be made on the GSI proposed by Xi.
The first is blatant hypocrisy. China is proposing principles that it has clearly already violated. For example, Xi’s statement begins by talking about sovereignty and territorial integrity, but China’s behavior both in the South China Sea and along the Sino-Indian border clearly violates notions of sovereignty and territorial integrity. territorial integrity of its neighbours. Similarly, Xi’s statement talks about taking the legitimate security concerns of all countries seriously and not pursuing one’s own security at the expense of others, which is not seen in China’s own behavior. There are other similar contradictions between the principles set out in the GSI and China’s own behavior, but these two stand out as the most glaring. Of course, the hypocrisy of the great powers in their public declarations of policy is nothing new. The hypocrisy must nevertheless be noted.
The second comment worth making at this point is that despite talking about rejecting the Cold War mentality, the GSI is a clear attempt to promote power politics in a way beneficial to China. Many of the GSI proposals are a thinly veiled effort to compete with the United States and its partners and allies. When Xi says ‘no to group politics and bloc confrontation’ or criticizes ‘small circles’, there’s no doubt he’s targeting the security partnerships the US is entrenching in the Indo-Pacific. , such as those that include India, Australia, Japan, South Korea, Taiwan and others. Not only are these proposals driven by China’s efforts to compete with the United States, but they are once again hypocritical given that China itself has had close alignments with states, such as the Soviet Union in the past, and continues to have lasting security. partnerships with Pakistan and North Korea. And, of course, Putin and Xi signed what can easily be called a new security partnership earlier this year.
Similarly, the essence of many GSI proposals boils down to the presumption that Asian affairs should be handled by Asian countries, which conveniently gives China a dominant position due to its size and power, and seeks just as conveniently to push the United States out of the Indo-Pacific. It is a blatant effort in China’s pursuit of Asian hegemony and is designed to promote China’s interests in its great power competition with the United States.
Despite the hypocrisy and power politics behind the GSI, it is likely to garner significant support in some parts of the world, particularly in the Middle East, Africa and other regions far from China. As the world becomes increasingly bipolar, we will see a repetition of some of the characteristics of the Cold War era, particularly weaker states playing off the two polar powers against each other. Although this will be difficult for countries close to China or the United States, it will certainly be a rational strategy for others to adopt, as they can benefit from both sides. Thus, while it is important to point out the hypocrisy of the GSI, it would be foolish to dismiss it or to assume that it will not garner support from other countries.
This article originally appeared in The Diplomat.