Beijing Xiangshan Forum kicks off, provides platform for 'communicating in a frank manner, better resolving questions'
Published: Oct 29, 2023 08:40 PM
Under the theme of Common Security, Lasting Peace, the 10th Beijing Xiangshan Forum is held in Beijing from October 29 to 31, 2023. Photo: Li Aixin/GT

Under the theme of "Common Security, Lasting Peace," the 10th Beijing Xiangshan Forum is held in Beijing from October 29 to 31, 2023. Photo: Li Aixin/GT

The 10th Beijing Xiangshan Forum kicked off on Sunday with representatives from a record-breaking number of countries, regions and international organizations gathering in the Chinese capital to attend the meeting themed "Common Security, Lasting Peace."

Under the tensions of the current international security situation, the Beijing Xiangshan Forum provides all parties with a platform to talk in a frank manner that contributes to better communication, better understanding of each other's positions and better resolutions to questions, said foreign experts participating in the forum.

Official delegations from more than 90 countries, regions and international organizations arrived at Beijing International Convention Center on Sunday for the three-day event.

Present are more than 30 ministerial representatives and military chiefs, as well as representatives from international and regional organizations, as the numbers of participants and senior officials are both higher than in previous years, according to China's Ministry of National Defense.  

Sunday featured high-end dialogues, a leading experts dialogue, a young military officers and scholars seminar and a symposium on Sun Tzu's Art of War, as well as a welcome dinner, while the opening ceremony is scheduled to be held on Monday.

Four plenary sessions to be held on Monday and Tuesday will focus on Major Countries' Responsibility and Global Security Cooperation, the Role of Developing Countries in Global Security, Asia-Pacific Security Architecture: Present and Future, as well as Regional Security and Development: Goals and Roads.

Eight simultaneous sessions on Monday will discuss Security Trend and Configuration of Security Situation in Northeast Asia, ASEAN Centrality in Regional Security Cooperation Architecture, New Security Architecture in the Middle East, Reconfiguring Peace in Europe, Preventing and Managing Military Maritime Crisis, Nuclear Risk and Global Security, Artificial Intelligence Security, as well as Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief: International Military Cooperation.

An official at China's Ministry of Foreign Affairs is scheduled to deliver a special speech on Tuesday.

The event is expected to comprehensively implement the concept of a global community of a shared future, as the theme of "Common Security, Lasting Peace" reflects the core concept of the Global Security Initiative (GSI).

The forum is an opportunity to start to hear more about the details on how effectively China wants to propose the implementation of the GSI, so that the participants in the forum can actually have an opportunity to reflect, and then start to think about how different countries can join and support the GSI, Alessio Patalano, Professor of War & Strategy in East Asia at the Department of War Studies, King's College London, told the Global Times among a group of media at the forum on Sunday.

"We see at the moment, there are two significant conflicts, one in Eastern Europe, the largest conflict between states since the end of the World War II, basically. The other one is in the Middle East. It's a very important time to talk about lasting peace," Patalano said.

"This is the first forum in person taking place since COVID-19. So it's very important to be here to start redeveloping and reestablishing personal links with colleagues, scholars and officials in China. So one can set a higher expectation in years to come as to how to produce a better collective thinking in light of this personal contact and interaction is being backed, and therefore being able to move directly and openly," said Patalano, noting that China has the international capacity to have a voice in how global security is shaped, and the forum can become an important point to get a sense of how Chinese intellectual elites and officials are thinking about this.

Senior Colonel Zhao Xiaozhuo, deputy director of the Beijing Xiangshan Forum Secretariat, told the Global Times on Sunday that the forum provides opportunities for countries and regions engaged in conflicts to communicate.

The forum has arranged sessions focused on European and Middle Eastern regional security, as security issues like the Russia-Ukraine conflict and Israel-Palestine conflict are obviously very important to security in Europe and the Middle East and would inevitably be touched upon during these sessions, Zhao said.

"We have representatives from both engaged sides to attend the sessions. The forum would try best to keep discuss on these topics on a rational path," Zhao said.

Beijing Xiangshan Forum has been a platform for developing countries to have their voices heard, as the forum encourages them, particularly small- and medium-sized countries, to join the dialogues. 

Not many international forums offer opportunities for developing countries to make an influence, Zhao said, noting that China is the largest developing country and always stands with the Global South and speaks for developing countries.

Joseph Kahama, Secretary General of the Tanzania-China Friendship Promotion Association, told the Global Times at the forum on Sunday that China has always believed in bringing people together, having dialogues and respecting everyone.

China's traditional role in not interfering with others and in wanting to dialogue, rather than go to war, is proving to be the only way for world peace right now, Kahama said.

The bipolar world where interests of a few ran the world governance is on its way out and the multipolar world where people from different civilizations are sitting down and discussing and respecting each other, and talking about alternative ways to begin peace is working, Kahama said. "And China is the leader of that."