Asia is best known for its contribution to global economic growth. Yet for some time, security concerns seem to have clouded people’s thinking about Asia.
So how should we view security in Asia? To be fair, Asia has maintained peace and stability for decades which serves as the foundation for economic development and improved relations among Asian countries.
Today, intraregional trade and investment, financial cooperation, negotiations on free trade agreements, and connectivity projects are thriving. Economic integration is deepening and cooperation is prevalent in Asia at present. Asia is also confronted with myriad security challenges, from the legacies of the past to non-traditional security challenges, such as natural disasters, transnational crimes, and cyber security.
China put forward a concept of “New Approach to Security” in the 1990s. It rejected old security patterns, such as the zero-sum game, military hegemony and power politics, and advocates a 3C i.e. Comprehensive, Cooperative and Common, security approach.
Comprehensive security recognizes the multifaceted and interconnected nature of security, which includes not just military security, but also economic, financial and food security.
Cooperative security calls for cooperation and participation by all relevant parties for the solution to complex security challenges. As Premier Li Keqiang said at the East Asia Summit in October, one cannot break chopsticks if you bundle many of them together. His message is that every country has a responsibility for regional security.
Common security means no country should seek absolute security for itself or its own security at the cost of others.
Regional economic integration provides the basis for Asian security. Development and security are mutually reinforcing. For many countries, development is also the biggest security interest.
Good relations among major countries are crucial to Asian security, and they should work together to tackle global challenges. Regional mechanisms, such as the Asia Regional Forum, the Association of Southeast Asian Nations Defence Ministers Meeting-Plus and the East Asia Summit, should play a bigger role in non-traditional security cooperation.
As long-term objective, new security architecture must be fostered. Security cooperation in Asia lags far behind economic cooperation. So, regional security architecture that caters for the needs and interests of Asian countries must be established. This new architecture should base on a new security approach and follow principles such as consensus, non-interference and accommodating the comfort level of all parties.
What role will China play in Asian security?
China is still a developing country. For the foreseeable future, development will remain the top priority for China and the focus will be on implementing reforms and opening-up policy drawn up at the Third Plenum.
China has achieved development under the current international order. To keep the order stable serves China’s interests, as well as those of other stakeholders in the region. President Xi Jinping used four words to describe China’s policy toward its neighbours: closeness, sincerity, sharing and inclusiveness.
In 2012, China’s FDI in Asia amounted to nearly $55 billion; more than 70% of China’s total overseas investments. China’s leadership has recently proposed many new cooperation projects with neighbouring countries, such as the Silk Road Economic Belt, the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road, establishing an Asia Infrastructure Investment Bank, upgrading the China-ASEAN partnership, and economic corridors linking Bangladesh, India, Myanmar and China.
The economic integration of Asia is set to enter a new era of development, and China will play a bigger role in it.
China is firmly committed to building a new relationship with major countries. Russia was the first country Xi visited after he took office, and the Sino-Russian comprehensive strategic partnership has set an example for good relations between major countries.
China and the US agreed to build a new type of relationship based on the principles of no conflict or confrontation, mutual respect for each other’s core interests and major concerns, and closer cooperation for peace, stability and development in the Asia-Pacific region and the world at large.
Naturally, this will not be plain sailing. China owes it to itself and to the region to avoid the historical trap of a conflict between major powers. China will continue to support ASEAN community building and ASEAN centrality in regional cooperation. China and ASEAN countries are making joint efforts to implement the
Declaration of Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea comprehensively and effectively.
China will not take provocative actions in its territorial disputes with other countries, but neither will it accept provocations against China’s basic principles.
China’s establishment of the Air Defense Identification Zone in the East China Sea is consistent with international law and international practice. More than 20 countries including the US, Japan and the Republic of Korea have created ADIZs since the 1950s. China and Japan should strengthen dialogue to ensure aviation safety and avoid mistakes in the overlapping areas.
China remains committed to the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula and actively participates in peace and reconstruction in Afghanistan. The country will host the Fourth Foreign Ministers’ Conference of the Istanbul Process on Afghanistan in 2014.
The more China develops, the greater is its need for a stable and a friendly neighbouring environment. A stronger China in turn will boost peace, development and security in Asia.