Popularity of China’s ‘New Security Initiative’ is inevitable: Global Times editorial
Published: Jun 04, 2023 11:56 PM
China's Minister of National Defence Li Shangfu delivers a speech during the 20th Shangri-La Dialogue summit in Singapore on June 4,2023.Photo:Roslan RAHMAN/AFP

China's Minister of National Defence Li Shangfu delivers a speech during the 20th Shangri-La Dialogue summit in Singapore on June 4,2023.Photo:Roslan RAHMAN/AFP

On Sunday, the last day of the Shangri-La Dialogue, Chinese State Councilor and Defense Minister Li Shangfu delivered a speech on "China's New Security Initiative." In his speech, Li emphasized "a new path to security featuring dialogue over confrontation, partnership over alliance and win-win over zero-sum." He put forward a four-point proposal: Mutual respect should prevail over bullying and hegemony; fairness and justice should transcend the law of the jungle; eliminating conflicts and confrontation through mutual trust and consultation; and preventing bloc confrontation with openness and inclusiveness. Li also reiterated China's stance on the Taiwan question, the South China Sea issue, and China-US relations, and expressed China's firm will and determination to defend national interests and national unity.

It is worth noting that the venue was packed during Li's speech, even the aisles were filled. After the end of the speech, the applause burst from the crowd, which was obviously different from the polite applause after other speeches. The feedbacks from representatives of many participating countries were also consistent with the response on the site. Several researchers of the International Institute for Strategic Studies, one of the organizers of the Shangri-La Dialogue, all gave positive evaluation of Li's speech, saying his talk clarified China's firm principle and position as well as showed China's sincere attitude and willingness to maintain communication with other major powers. Indonesia's former deputy foreign minister also pointed out in an interview that it was a very useful speech and believed that Indonesia was ready to cooperate with China to strengthen security in the region.

This is the first time Li attended the Shangri-La Dialogue after he became the Defense Minister this year, and it is also the first time China's "Global Security Initiative Concept Paper" was made a full presentation at this event since its release in February. The "debut" was undoubtedly a success from any perspective. And it is inevitable that China's "New Security Initiative" has gained popularity. Because China sincerely regards the Shangri-La Dialogue as a platform for discussing security and communicating with all parties on an equal footing, and is also truly seeking dialogue, cooperation and solutions for the pursuit of peace, prosperity and stability in the Asia-Pacific region.

The Shangri-La Dialogue has always been regarded as the home court of the US and the West, and the voices and views presented are largely leaned toward the US and the West. However, a noticeable change at this year's Dialogue is that the aggressive stance that takes sides has decreased and real concerns have increased. Representatives from Southeast Asian countries such as Indonesia and the Philippines expressed their concerns about war and conflict in their speeches. Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese stated that war between the two great powers is not "inevitable" and Australian Defense Minister Richard Marles said allies of the US can also build productive relationships with China. This fully demonstrates that when the real risk of division and confrontation approaches, it will inevitably encounter collective vigilance and resistance from regional countries.

Against this backdrop, US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin's speech had to be slightly toned down. In addition to the clichés of portraying China as a threat, Austin also said conflict in the Taiwan Straits "is neither imminent nor inevitable," which is considered as a subtle response to the various predictions of "the time of a Taiwan Straits conflict" in the US. However, it must be said that this gesture is still tactic and it's a surface decoration to cover up the unchanged essence of Washington's suppression and containment of China. The actual pace of provoking camp confrontation in the Asia-Pacific region has not stopped, but has intensified. This is the fundamental source of security anxiety in the Asia-Pacific region.

Looking at the essence through phenomena, the defense chiefs of China and US gave speeches at the Shangri-La Dialogue, expounding two different paths of global security visions. One is the "Global Security Initiative," and the other is "A Shared Vision for the Indo-Pacific." Although the wording seems similar, the reflected security concepts are completely different: on one side is the promotion of mutual respect, fairness and justice, mutual trust and consultation, openness and inclusiveness, while on the other side is the pursuit of hegemony, law of the jungle, confrontation and camp confrontation; one side calls for partnership, while the other side advocates alliance. It is not difficult to judge which is better and which is worse, and what is right and what is wrong is clear to everyone.

As Defense Minister Li mentioned in his speech, since the founding of the People's Republic of China more than 70 years ago, the country has never started a conflict, occupied an inch of foreign land or waged a proxy war. China has the best peace record among major countries. The path of Chinese modernization is on the same track with promoting common development, maintaining world peace, and improving global governance, and has always been put into practice. The fundamental reason why the Chinese side's speech at the Shangri-La Dialogue won the applause of representatives from various countries is that the representatives can see China's words being carried out through its actions.