China’s Global Security Initiative

Reducing security concerns in emerging nations

Security remains a paramount challenge to the growth and evolution of human society. Nations worldwide grapple with security issues, making it crucial to acknowledge and respect the concerns of all countries. The United Nations’ 2022 review of the global security situation reveals that most conflicts occur in developing regions like Asia, Africa, and Latin America, with the Russian-Ukrainian conflict being the sole exception in Europe. For a long time, these issues received little attention from the international community and the Western-led security governance system. However, China’s timely proposal of the Global Security Initiative (GSI) has brought a fresh perspective to address these concerns.

The Global Security Initiative’s Concept Document emphasizes the importance of respecting the sovereignty and territorial integrity of all countries, irrespective of their size, power, or wealth. This focus on equality and non-interference in internal affairs demonstrates China’s commitment to upholding international law and fostering a fair global order. In a world fraught with conflicts, contradictions, and power imbalances, the Global Security Initiative offers crucial support for developing nations to address security and development issues independently. The Global Security Initiative’s core idea emphasizes the importance of acknowledging the legitimate security concerns of all countries. Ignoring these concerns often exacerbates conflicts, as seen in the Russian-Ukrainian conflict and the situation on the Korean Peninsula. By prioritizing the security interests of all nations, the Global Security Initiative offers a comprehensive framework for resolving disputes and promoting peace.

Reiterating the fundamental tenet of respecting the sovereignty and territorial integrity of all countries in this context not only reflects the background of China’s foreign policy but also offers crucial support for developing nations with weak overall strengths to fend off outside interference and deal with security and development issues on their own. In particular, this idea served as the guide for the 20 major areas of cooperation outlined in the Global Security Initiative Concept Paper. On the one hand, respecting the sovereignty and territorial integrity of all countries is the foundation of putting major cooperation directions into practice. The goal of the framework for the global security effort is to cooperatively decrease or even eliminate regional or global security concerns, to the greatest extent possible safeguard the interests of all nations, and never pursue their own security at the expense of those of other nations. Every nation’s fundamental interest is “sovereignty and territorial integrity,” which is also the thing that the framework of the global security effort supports and ensures. Second, the cooperative promotion of pressing regional concerns embodies the idea and rule of “respecting the sovereignty and territorial integrity of all countries.”

According to the Concept Paper, the initiative’s core idea and guiding principle is to attach importance to the legitimate security concerns of all countries, which is a reasonable response to the contentious issues in the current state of international relations. From a fundamental standpoint, ignoring national security concerns is a significant factor in the escalation of contentious issues such as the “Russian-Ukrainian conflict” and the deterioration of the situation on the peninsula. Respecting the national security concerns of all nations is necessary to find solutions to these issues. Most nations in global and regional hotspots cannot build mutual trust at this point due to the combined influences of history and reality. Thus, it is vital to create adequate strategic buffers in the military and political spheres to ameliorate the situation. Foreign powers should also address the security concerns of the relevant countries adequately when they intervene in contentious situations. The chaos in the world situation will only get worse if certain nations impose their will on other nations arbitrarily, which would have devastating consequences for the citizens of all those nations.

Therefore, the Global Security Initiative’s Concept Paper offers a focused cooperative solution to the security risks faced by all countries, fully respects those countries’ legitimate security concerns, and provides a fundamental framework for all nations to resolve disputes, bring about peace, and benefit from each other. For example, the Concept Paper includes “jointly encouraging the creation of a new security architecture in the Middle East.” The region’s nations’ ability to “address the legitimate security concerns of all parties and develop the endogenous forces for maintaining regional security” serves as its crucial underpinning. With the help of all parties, Saudi Arabia and Iran achieved a deal to re-establish diplomatic ties, marking a significant advancement in the Middle East’s peaceful development.

As players in the system of global governance, international organizations serve as crucial platforms for international collaboration between nations. A test for everyone involved in global governance is how to fully promote the efficiency of relevant international organizations in global governance, prevent international organizations from idling, and even enable some countries to use international organizations as a tool to protect their interests.

The concept and principle of “persisting in a peaceful settlement of differences and disputes between countries through dialogue and consultation” are emphasized in the Concept Paper of the Global Security Initiative. This principle ensures that all nations, no matter how big or small, powerful or weak, can participate in global security governance on an equal basis. Effective and reasonable international organizations are a crucial platform for realizing this idea. They can encourage regional organizations like the African Union, the League of Arab States, and ASEAN to contribute more to preserving regional peace and stability, support the United Nations in playing a larger role in international security affairs, and ensure that developing nations have a voice in the governance of international security.

While addressing global issues, some nations have long viewed international organizations as a means to achieve their global hegemony. Additionally, some international organizations have helped extraterritorial powers intervene in regional conflicts and meddle in the internal affairs of other nations. They have significantly abused the rights to life and property of the local populace in the region instead of helping to stabilize the regional security situation. The Global Security Initiative’s Concept Paper reaffirms the role of international organizations in international security governance, lays out a strategy for the United Nations and other international organizations to continue playing their role in upholding global security, boosts the confidence of the many nations that value peace in the ability to settle differences and disputes through dialogue and consultation, and is helpful in resolving international problems.

Last but not least, the Concept Paper of the Global Security Initiative reflects China’s confidence in actively participating in the reform and construction of the global governance system, as well as its determination to jointly safeguard international peace and stability with nations that value peace throughout the world. Hotspot concerns on the global and regional scale continue to pose a significant danger to the security of all nations, and developing nations have a significant historical debt to security and development issues. An important test of political sagacity and governance skills for all nations is how to efficiently prevent and manage security issues and provide a stable environment for regional development. The Global Security Initiative’s Concept Paper offers developing nations a practical route to global security governance. It also offers a fundamental framework for nations to work together to address security issues and pursue shared prosperity. The Global Security Initiative is an open and inclusive system, and all nations must contribute to furthering its meaning. The vast majority of developing nations are essential participants in international security governance and will undoubtedly play a significant role in the progress of humanity toward addressing security issues and realizing the objective of security governance.

Minghao Yang and Jiao Hou

The writers are scholars at the Baize Institute for Strategy Studies at the Southwest University of Political Science and Law, China.

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