China-Africa security forum injects positive energy into global peace
Global Security Initiative to help Africa escape power plays of major countries: experts
Published: Aug 28, 2023 09:16 PM
China Africa Union Photo:VCG

China Africa Union Photo:VCG

The third China-Africa Peace and Security Forum reflects China's sincere support for peace and security development in Africa, and its efforts to help Africa escape the power plays of major countries, experts said, as China welcomed nearly 50 defense officials and military officers from African countries to participate in the forum last from Monday to Saturday.

Li Shangfu, Chinese State Councilor and Minister of National Defense, will deliver a keynote speech at the forum, which is being held under the theme "Implementing the Global Security Initiative [GSI] and Strengthening China-Africa Solidarity and Cooperation." 

The forum comes after the just-concluded 15th BRICS Summit and the China-Africa Leaders' Dialogue held in Johannesburg.

The second China-Africa Peace and Security Forum was held via video link in July 2022, to which Chinese President Xi Jinping sent a congratulatory letter pointing out the direction for China and Africa to strengthen unity and cooperation and achieve common security. 

"Establishing a peaceful and stable Africa is one of the seven key indicators of the African Union's self-determined Agenda 2063, which also serves as a standard for assessing Africa's development and modernization. However, in recent years, the African continent has been grappling with security challenges," Song Wei, a professor at the School of International Relations and Diplomacy at the Beijing Foreign Studies University, told the Global Times on Monday. 

First, the Horn of Africa has witnessed regional conflicts, and counter-terrorism efforts in the Sahel region have been a top priority for the continent. And recently, Niger, a pivotal counter-terrorism focal point in the Sahel, experienced a military coup, highlighting the overall instability and insecurity across the continent, Song noted. 

"Also, the resurgence of unilateralism and the intensification of geopolitical competition among major powers have made Africa a significant battleground for their rivalries. Such dynamics have had detrimental effects on Africa's security situation and overall development," she said. 

China has always been a contributor and participant of Africa's peace and security. While fully respecting Africa's wishes and adhering to the basic norms of international relations, China has continuously intensified its involvement in Africa's peace and security affairs. 

In the field of international peacekeeping, over 80 percent of Chinese peacekeepers are deployed in Africa. China has participated in 17 UN peacekeeping missions, dispatching over 32,000 personnel to Africa. Among the permanent members of the UN Security Council, China has sent the highest number of peacekeepers to the continent, according to media reports. 

Since 2008, the Chinese military has dispatched 44 escort task forces to the waters of the Gulf of Aden and Somalia and conducted joint anti-piracy exercises with countries like Nigeria and Cameroon, contributing to maritime safety and regional stability. 

In addressing regional hot spots, China has actively participated in international peace conferences related to the Sahel, South Sudan, and the Horn of Africa. In January 2022, China proposed the "Initiative of Peaceful Development in the Horn of Africa" and held the inaugural China-Horn of Africa peace conference in June 2022. 

As the Russia-Ukraine crisis continues to escalate and regional conflicts emerge in Africa, uncertainties also continue to grow, making it necessary for China and Africa to keep the same or similar stance on safeguarding peace, some experts said. 

"A peaceful external environment is a mutual need for both China and Africa. Only through peace can both sides prosper individually and collectively. This is a significant manifestation of the China-Africa shared destiny," Chinese military expert Song Zhongping told the Global Times on Monday. 

Through the peace and security forum, China and African countries are expected to reach a political consensus of developing a broader international security perspective and a shared security concept while enhancing cooperation in the security field, some experts predicted. 

"China will not interfere in the internal affairs of African countries, but we will assist African nations in building defensive military capabilities, and we are also willing to enhance collaboration with African countries on counter-terrorism and other non-traditional security matters," Song Zhongping said. 

China will also engage in military technology exchanges with these countries, remain open to joint exercises with African military and defense departments and offer peacekeeping training, Song Zhongping said. 

"Everything China does is aimed at maintaining regional peace and stability, assisting African countries in establishing viable self-defense capabilities and ensuring defense capabilities without altering the local power balance," the expert said.