Changes in the world, of our times and of history are unfolding today in ways like never before, posing challenges that must be taken seriously by humanity.
At this moment critical to world peace and development, President Xi Jinping made a keynote speech entitled “Rising to Challenges and Building a Bright Future Through Cooperation” at the opening ceremony of the Boao Forum for Asia Annual Conference 2022, and proposed for the first time the Global Security Initiative (GSI).
This important initiative gives explicit answers to questions of our times such as what security concept the world needs and how countries can achieve common security.
It fully demonstrates President Xi Jinping’s concerns for world peace and development, his internationalist vision, and his leadership as head of a major country. It contributes China’s wisdom to the efforts of mankind in tackling the peace deficit and offers China’s solution to addressing international security challenges.
Understanding GSI’s practical significance
This major initiative was proposed to meet the pressing need of the international community to maintain world peace and prevent conflicts and wars. Humanity has yet to emerge from the shadow of the pandemic, and the Ukraine crisis is already wreaking havoc.
Various traditional and non-traditional security threats keep flaring up. Peace and development, the theme of our times, are faced with severe challenges.
President Xi Jinping noted that peace is the ever-lasting wish of our people. Human history has proven time and again that without peace, the development will be like water without a source; without security, prosperity will be like trees without roots.
The GSI is an effort to stand up to the changes of the world and answer the questions of the times. Building on the vision of common, comprehensive, cooperative and sustainable security, the GSI seeks to promote the establishment of a balanced, effective and sustainable security architecture. It thus offers a new approach to eliminating the root causes of international conflicts and achieving durable stability and security in the world.
This major initiative was proposed to meet the common aspirations of all countries to uphold multilateralism and international solidarity. The world today is facing unprecedented risks of division.
Some countries, stubbornly clinging to the outdated mindset of cold war confrontation, are obsessed with building exclusive, small circles and blocs. They pursue unilateralism in the name of multilateralism, use double standards while touting their own rules, and practice hegemony under the guise of democracy.
These acts have seriously undermined the international security order and aggravated the deficit in global security governance. President Xi Jinping pointed out unequivocally that the Cold War mentality would only wreck the global peace framework, hegemonism and power politics would only endanger world peace, and that bloc confrontation would only exacerbate security challenges in the 21st century.
The GSI is rooted in true multilateralism. It calls upon all countries to abide by the purposes and principles of the UN Charter and reject the obsolete mentality of zero-sum game and bloc confrontation.
It advocates the win-win mindset to address the complex and intertwined security challenges and champions the spirit of solidarity to adapt to the profoundly changing international landscape. It has provided a new approach to improving global security governance.
This major initiative was proposed to meet the shared desire of all people for working together to overcome difficulties and build a better world beyond the pandemic.
At present, global economic recovery remains sluggish, compounded by rising inflationary pressure and multiple crises on the financial, trade, energy, food and industrial- and supply-chain fronts.
However, certain countries wantonly impose unilateral sanctions, exercise long-arm jurisdiction, insist on building “small yard, high fence” or “parallel systems”.
They overstretch the concept of national security to hold back economic and technological advances of other countries. This has worsened the livelihoods of people all over the world, particularly those in developing countries.
President Xi Jinping observed that countries around the world are like passengers aboard the same ship who share the same destiny. For the ship to navigate the storm and sail toward a bright future, all passengers must pull together.
The thought of throwing anyone overboard is simply not acceptable. The GSI echoes and reinforces the Global Development Initiative (GDI) proposed by President Xi Jinping last year.
It accords with the trend of the times featuring peace, development and win-win cooperation, and represents a coordinated approach to safeguarding traditional and non-traditional security.
It aims to seek the biggest common denominator and the widest converging interests in the international community, and to provide new support for countries in boosting livelihoods and development.
The GSI is a complete system with rich meaning. It is the important fruit of applying Xi Jinping Thought on Diplomacy to the field of international security. It also improves and goes beyond the Western theory of geopolitical security.
The GSI is underpinned by “six commitments”, namely, staying committed to the vision of common, comprehensive, cooperative and sustainable security; staying committed to respecting the sovereignty and territorial integrity of all countries; staying committed to abiding by the purposes and principles of the UN Charter; staying committed to taking the legitimate security concerns of all countries seriously; staying committed to peacefully resolving differences and disputes between countries through dialogue and consultation, and staying committed to maintaining security in both traditional and non-traditional domains.
These six commitments are interlinked and mutually reinforcing, including macro thinking of top-level design as well as methods and pathways for addressing practical issues. They form an organic whole of dialectical unity.
The vision of common, comprehensive, cooperative and sustainable security serves as a guiding principle for maintaining world peace and tranquility.
Since President Xi Jinping outlined this new vision of security at the Shanghai Summit of the Conference on Interaction and Confidence-Building Measures in Asia (CICA) in 2014, it has been widely recognised and supported by the international community and has become a “golden key” for the world to reduce security deficit and tackle security challenges.
Today, in a world faced with the combined impacts of the pandemic and major changes both unseen in a century and the shadow of war and conflict, the significance of this new security vision is all the more evident.
It will drive deep into people’s hearts the idea of peace and cooperation, one about beating swords into ploughshares and pursuing security for all. It will demonstrate the great potential of the new type of security that features dialogue, partnership and win-win instead of confrontation, alliance and a zero-sum approach.
Respecting the sovereignty and territorial integrity of all countries is the basic prerequisite for maintaining world peace and tranquillity. The principle of sovereignty is the cornerstone for norms governing international relations in contemporary times.
All countries, big or small, strong or weak, rich or poor, are equal members of the international community. Their internal affairs brook no external interference, their sovereignty and dignity must be respected, and their rights to independently choose their social systems and development paths must be upheld.
History has warned us repeatedly that claiming supremacy over others and the strong bullying the weak would cause instability, and that the law of the jungle and power politics would lead to conflict and chaos. In this fast-changing world, we must oppose hegemonic infringement on sovereignty and uphold sovereign independence and equality, so as to ensure that all countries enjoy equal rights and opportunities and follow the same rules. Abiding by the purposes and principles of the UN Charter is the fundamental requirement for maintaining world peace and tranquillity.
The purposes and principles of the UN Charter are the result of deep soul-searching by people around the world on the bitter lessons of the two world wars. They embody humanity’s institutional design for achieving collective security and lasting peace.
As President Xi Jinping noted, the various confrontation and injustices in the world today do not occur because the purposes and principles of the UN Charter are outdated, but because they are not effectively implemented.
Going through major changes and the pandemic unseen in a century, we must act on true multilateralism, firmly reject unilateralism and all forms of fake multilateralism, firmly uphold the basic norms of international relations based on the purposes and principles of the UN Charter, and oppose all “gang rules” set by a few without UN authorization and at odds with the spirit of the UN Charter.
Taking the legitimate security concerns of all countries seriously is an important principle for maintaining world peace and tranquillity. Humanity is an indivisible security community. The security of one country should not come at the expense of that of others, and the security of a region cannot be ensured by strengthening or even expanding military blocs.
All countries are equal and interdependent in terms of security interests. The legitimate and reasonable security concerns of any country should all be taken seriously and addressed properly, rather than being ignored all along or systemically challenged.
An enduring solution to global security challenges lies in upholding the principle of indivisible security, taking each other’s legitimate security concerns seriously, and building a balanced, effective and sustainable security architecture with a view to universal and common security.
Resolving differences and disputes between countries peacefully through dialogue and consultation is the only path to maintaining world peace and tranquillity.
International practices have demonstrated fully that neither war nor sanction is a fundamental solution to disputes, and that dialogue and consultation are the most effective ways to resolve differences. The international community should unequivocally support all efforts conducive to peaceful settlement of crises and oppose attempts by any force to fan the flames or to obstruct and scupper peace talks.
All parties should work in concert to defuse tensions, restore stability, promote peace, and encourage conflicting parties to engage in dialogue and keep the dialogue going so as to build trust, settle disputes and promote security through dialogue.
Upholding both traditional and non-traditional security is an integral part of the cause of maintaining world peace and tranquillity. With the deepening of economic globalisation, the intention and extension of security are broadening to cover a much larger framework of time, space and areas.
Security is becoming more interconnected, transnational and diverse. It thus necessitates continued creative thinking as well as keeping security cooperation in pace with the times. Facing complex international security threats such as regional disputes, terrorism, climate change and those related to cyber-security and bio-security, no country can stay unaffected or become a lone island. Only through working together to tide over the difficulties can countries turn pressure into driving forces and crises into opportunities.
Inheriting and promoting the successful practices
The GSI takes root in new China’s independent foreign policy of peace and the practices of this policy. It is inspired by diplomatic tradition and wisdom with unique Chinese characteristics. Over the years, as a responsible major country, China has held high the banner of peace, development and cooperation for win-win results, and made active contributions to upholding global peace and security, setting a prime example as a major country.
China keeps to its conviction about peaceful development and remains a committed builder of world peace. Since the founding of New China, the country has pursued an independent foreign policy of peace and adhered to the path of peaceful development. It never started a war, never occupied one inch of a foreign land, never engaged in proxy wars, and never participated in or organized any military bloc.
Among the major countries, China has the best peace and security record. At present, China remains the only country in the world that undertakes to follow a path of peaceful development in its constitution and the only one among the five nuclear-weapon states that have pledged no-first-use of nuclear weapons.
No matter how developed China becomes, it will never seek hegemony, expansion or sphere of influence, nor will it engage in the arms race. China will always be a strong pillar for the peace and tranquillity of humanity.
China is committed to its international responsibilities and remains a firm defender of the international order. China is the first founding member of the United Nations to sign the UN Charter. It firmly upholds the purposes and principles of the UN Charter, and advocates respect for the sovereignty and territorial integrity of all countries.
China has dispatched the most peacekeepers among the permanent members of the UN Security Council. It is the second-largest contributor to the UN peacekeeping budget.
China has taken an active part in international arms control, disarmament and non-proliferation processes. It has signed or acceded to more than 20 multilateral arms control, disarmament and non-proliferation treaties, including the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) and the Arms Trade Treaty (ATT).
China opposes the arms race and upholds global strategic stability. China has pursued cooperation to address all forms of non-traditional security challenges, and provided more than 2.1 billion doses of COVID-19 vaccines to the international community in an active effort to bridge the “immunisation gap”.
China has announced its carbon peaking and carbon neutrality goals and played its part in tackling climate change. It has launched the Global Initiative on Data Security as its proposed solution to global digital governance.
China stays committed to dialogue and consultation and remains a steadfast mediator of hot-spot issues. China firmly stands on the side of peaceful dialogue, equity and justice, and actively explores solutions with Chinese characteristics to hot-spot issues.
On Ukraine, China takes an objective and fair stance on the basis of the merits and demerits of the issue, and vigorously advises peace and encourages talks. This has been highly recognized by the international community, particularly the vast number of developing countries.
On the Middle East, China has put forward a four-point proposal on resolving the Palestinian question and a five-point initiative on promoting peace and stability in the Middle East. It supports the countries and people in the Middle East in addressing regional security issues through solidarity and coordination, and supports their independent exploration for development paths of their own.
Regarding the Iranian nuclear issue, China actively promotes the negotiations to resume compliance with the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) and upholds the international nuclear non-proliferation regime.
On the Korean Peninsula nuclear issue, China remains committed to making synchronized progress in the establishment of a permanent peace mechanism and the denuclearization of the Peninsula. And it believes that the legitimate concerns of all parties should be addressed in a balanced manner.
On Afghanistan, China has taken the initiative to carry out international coordination and provide humanitarian assistance, playing a constructive role in the smooth transition of the situation in Afghanistan.
Major propositions and policy goals
Visions set the course, and actions shape the future. More than proposing the GSI, China acts on this major Initiative. We stand ready to work with the international community to ensure that the GSI, put forward by President Xi Jinping, will take root and come into fruition, so that the world will enjoy greater peace, security and prosperity.
We need to firmly uphold the authority and stature of the UN and jointly practice true multilateralism. Multilateral institutions provide the main platforms for practising multilateralism and the basic framework for defending it.
We need to unswervingly uphold the UN-centered international system, the international order underpinned by international law, and humanity’s common values of peace, development, equity, justice, democracy and freedom. We must reject attempts to stoke confrontation and division along ideological lines, forge “small circles”, undermine the international order in the name of preserving so-called “rules”, and put the world under the shadow of a “new Cold War”.
We need to stick to the overall direction of promoting talks for peace and jointly explore political solutions to hot-spot issues. It is important to strengthen strategic communication among countries to enhance mutual security confidence, diffuse tensions, manage differences and eliminate the root causes of crises.
We need to actively explore possibilities for cooperation between states, expand the convergence of security interests, and nurture international and regional security dynamics that balance the aspirations and accommodate the interests of all parties.
Major countries shoulder a special and important responsibility in resolving international and regional hot-spot issues. They must uphold justice, encourage dialogue, facilitate talks for peace, play good offices and mediate in light of the needs and will of the countries concerned, and act as anchors of peace instead of fire bellows in the likelihood of conflicts.
We need to take a holistic approach to traditional and non-traditional security threats, and jointly improve the global security governance system. Facing various types of security threats, countries must unite and cooperate rather than act on one’s own. We need to further strengthen international solidarity against COVID-19, improve global governance in public health, and ensure the accessibility and affordability of vaccines in developing countries, so as to foster a strong synergy of COVID response.
We need to work together to counter terrorism, the common enemy of humanity, build a global nuclear security architecture featuring fairness and win-win cooperation, improve rules of governance on new frontiers such as the deep sea, polar regions, outer space and the Internet, and follow the principles of extensive consultation, joint contribution and shared benefits in global governance, so as to prevent and resolve security dilemmas.
We need to strike a balance between development and security, and jointly contribute to the robust recovery of the world economy. More emphasis should be put on development to actively improve people’s living standards, narrow the wealth gap, bridge the development divide, and promote balanced, coordinated and inclusive global development.
We need to stay committed to building an open world economy, strengthen policy coordination, keep global industrial and supply chains stable and smooth, resolutely oppose decoupling and supply disruption, and make globalization more open, inclusive, balanced and beneficial for all.
We need to actively implement the GSI, place development high on the global macro policy agenda, better synergize development strategies, and accelerate the implementation of the UN 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development to enhance sustainable security through sustainable development.
We need to seek to build a new regional security architecture and jointly protect peace and stability in Asia. Asia is an anchor for world peace, a powerhouse for global growth and a new pacesetter for international cooperation and it needs a new security architecture compatible with its economic foundation.
We should build a model of security for Asia featuring mutual respect, openness and integration that takes into account the diversity of Asian countries in terms of development stages, social systems and cultural values and accommodate the aspirations and interests of all parties. We must firmly oppose any attempt to divide the region and wage a “new Cold War” through the so-called Indo-Pacific strategy, and reject the attempt to piece together an Asia-Pacific version of NATO through military alliances.
We must firmly uphold ASEAN centrality in the regional architecture, advocate the Five Principles of Peaceful Coexistence and the Bandung Spirit, deepen regional and sub-regional security cooperation, and find a path for Asia that ensures security for all, by all, and of all. By following the trend of history and taking the right path, one can reach high and go far.
China stands ready to work with all peace-loving countries and people committed to development to carry out the GSI put forward by President Xi Jinping, open up a broad path toward lasting peace and universal security, and forge a strong synergy to build a community with a shared future for mankind.
Let the torch of peace be passed on from generation to generation and the sound of peace echoes throughout the world.
The writer is the Minister of Foreign Affairs and State Councilor of the People’s Republic of China.