On April 21, 2022, President Xi Jinping delivered a keynote speech at the opening ceremony of the Boao Forum for Asia Annual Conference, proposing the Global Security Initiative for the first time. This initiative provides Chinese wisdom and Chinese solutions for maintaining world peace and tranquility, and demonstrates China’s shouldering of its responsibilities as a major country. After this major initiative was proposed, it attracted a high level of attention in China and abroad. Some experts from the Research Center for Overall National Security Outlook and the China Institute of Contemporary International Relations (CICIR) organized study seminars to earnestly grasp the initiative’s profound meaning. Through study, everyone came to believe that the proposal of the initiative is a major strategic conclusion made by President Xi Jinping having considered the changes in today’s world, the changes of the times, and the changes of history. It is another important innovation to the Party’s national security theory for the new era, the main content of which is the overall national security outlook. It is of pioneering significance and must be systematically and deeply understood, comprehensively implemented, and continuously enriched and developed.
I. Guided by the Changes Unseen in a Century, Scientifically Judge the Main Security Threats of Today’s World
In his speech, President Xi Jinping pointed out that at present, the changes in the world, the changes of the times, and the changes of history are unfolding in an unprecedented way, and there are many problems before us, posing challenges to humankind that must be taken seriously.
In today’s world, a once-in-a-century pandemic is superimposed on changes unseen in a century, the international landscape is evolving at an accelerated pace, various problems are emerging one after another, the trend of the diversification of security threats is more apparent, and the themes of peace and development have run up against grave challenges. The notions of security of different countries are becoming more complex. Faced with questions such as how to promote common security on the basis of realizing one’s own security, how to maintain one’s own security while maintaining common security, and how to balance the security of today and the security of tomorrow, there are varying ideas and fierce collisions, some of which even give rise to serious conflicts and turmoil. The notions are complex and the paths are diverse, posing real challenges to the security of all countries and world peace.
In today’s world, the reasonable concerns of many countries regarding national sovereignty, territorial integrity and such, have not yet received a proper response. The basic pursuit of a development path and political system that suits one’s own characteristics is still not fully respected, and the basic requirements of equal rights such as the right to development, the right to have a voice, and the right to govern have not yet been effectively realized. In an era of turbulence and change, the exploration and pursuit by different countries of political systems, development paths, and social culture are at an unprecedentedly high level, which stands in sharp contrast to the brutal interference in other countries’ internal affairs, the wanton destruction of international norms, and selfish arrogance in the face of equal debates which we see from some countries.
In today’s world, the international community is facing many major real contradictions and disputes. Issues such as competition and cooperation among major countries, the world economic recovery, the advancement of global governance, and industrial and scientific and technological progress are not just important elements of the changes unseen in a century, they also determine the direction of the changes unseen in a century, and they determine each country’s future development environment. To deal with these problems, major countries must shoulder their responsibilities, cooperate, and coordinate. However, the reality is that some countries have not put the aims and principles of the UN Charter first, but instead adhere to the Cold War mentality and unilateralism. They rope in allies and partners to engage in bloc politics and confrontations between camps, deceive and divide the world with pseudo-multilateralism, and seriously erode the cornerstone of world peace.
In today’s world, some countries seek to achieve absolute security, base their own security on the insecurity of other countries, and disregard the reasonable security concerns of other countries. The security architecture has lost its balance and effectiveness, the reasonable security needs of the weaker party long go ignored, and long-accumulating security contradictions go unalleviated. This can very easily lead to the emergence of extreme behaviors and give rise to the expansion of contradictions and conflicts. This loss of balance and effectiveness in the security architecture is not only reflected in traditional military security and homeland security, but is also increasingly reflected in non-traditional security fields such as economics, science and technology, information, culture, and climate.
In today’s world, there are still many countries that, in the face of contradictions and disputes, cast dialogue and peace negotiations to one side. They might threaten to use force themselves or fan the flames and encourage others to use force to solve problems, and when opportunities for dialogue and negotiation arise, they single-handedly obstruct and sabotage them. They might practice double standards on security issues and resort to means such as unilateral sanctions, “long-arm jurisdiction,” and “decoupling and cutting off supplies,” leading to the expansion of disputes and deepening rifts, and driving problems down the wrong path. These measures are causing serious and continuous damage to international peace and regional stability. They are the most direct obstacle to maintaining world peace.
In today’s world, the present era’s connotations of war, peace, security, and development are undergoing profound changes, and the themes of peace and development are encountering grave challenges. The division of labor, cooperation, and interdependence established by economic globalization are being used by some countries as a weapon to exert leverage for their own interests and to attack other countries. The vigorous development and mutual integration brought about by the deep development of cultural diversity are being used by some countries as a tool to incite confrontation and create turmoil. The efficient communication and convenience of expression formed by the accelerated development of social informatization are being used by some countries as a channel for ideological infiltration, subversion, and destruction. Fields that could have promoted international cooperation such as climate, space, deep sea, polar regions, biology, and anti-terrorism are also being politicized and militarized at an accelerated pace.
II. Based on the Global Security Initiative, Effectively Respond to the Security Threats of Today’s World
The Initiative has as its core essence the “Six Persistences” (六个坚持), forming a dialectical unity and complete system that is rich in meaning. It is not only a continuation and development of China’s fine traditional culture and wisdom and an integration and innovation of international security thinking with Chinese characteristics, but also the sublation and transcendence of Western security theory, a major contribution to international security theory, a strong response to the main security threats of today’s world, and an answer to the call of the times. It is a powerful theoretical weapon that we can use to maintain world peace and promote mutually beneficial cooperation.
First, we must persist in the concept of common, comprehensive, cooperative, and sustainable security and jointly maintain world peace and security. Emphasizing a common, comprehensive, cooperative, and sustainable security outlook is an important connotation of our Party’s innovative theory of diplomacy in the new era as well as the most distinctive feature of the Global Security Initiative. President Xi Jinping pointed out that security is a precondition of development, and humankind is an indivisible security community. The current impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and the Russia-Ukraine conflict has fully proven that no country can stand alone in the face of risks. Maintaining world peace and security is the common denominator of the interests of all humankind.
Second, we must persist in respect for the sovereignty and territorial integrity of all countries, non-interference in other countries’ internal affairs, and respect for the development paths and social systems independently chosen by the people of each country. The national conditions, social conditions, and people’s conditions of the various regions of the world vary widely, and there is no universal development path. Forcing one’s will on others will inevitably hurt others and one’s self. Before now, the United States has forcibly attempted to transplant flowers and trees [移花接木, impose its own politics/culture on others], carrying out “democratic transformation” in countries such as Iraq and Afghanistan. As a result, they not only suffered disastrous defeats, but also brought catastrophic disasters to the local people. Reflecting on the past tells us that all the world’s countries, big or small, rich or poor, should fully respect the autonomy of other countries to prevent such tragedies from happening again.
Third, we must persist in observing the aims and principles of the UN Charter, abandon the Cold War mentality, oppose unilateralism, and refrain from bloc politics and confrontations between camps. The success of one country does not mean that another country must fail. The world can fully accommodate the common growth and progress of all countries. All the world’s countries should take the road of unity and cooperation, rather than allowing individual countries to “set the rhythm” in the world from a so-called “position of strength.” All countries should shoulder their due responsibilities, abide by the aims and principles of the UN Charter, adhere to openness, inclusiveness, and mutually beneficial cooperation, practice genuine multilateralism, and promote the building of a community with a shared future for humankind.
Fourth, we must persist in taking seriously the reasonable security concerns of all countries and uphold the principle of the indivisibility of security. Humanity is an indivisible security community. The sovereignty, security, and development interests of any country should be protected, and the reasonable security concerns of any country should receive respect. In the recent Ukraine crisis, NATO, led by the United States, ignored the principle of the indivisibility of security and blindly pursued eastward expansion. This violated the pan-European security arrangement, and instead gave rise to the current security crisis in Europe. Military alliances and group confrontations will only jeopardize world peace. Only by taking seriously each other’s reasonable security concerns and building a balanced, effective, and sustainable security architecture can we achieve universal security and common security and find the path to a long-term solution to global security challenges.
Fifth, we must persist in peacefully resolving differences and disputes between countries through dialogue and negotiation. War has never been the fundamental solution to resolve differences and disputes. Instead, it will only increase hatred and give rise to a greater crisis. The three India-Pakistan wars did not resolve the territorial disputes and religious conflicts between India and Pakistan. The five Middle East wars likewise failed to resolve the differences and conflicts between Arabs and Israel. The international community should recognize that dialogue and negotiation is the most effective way to resolve differences and should support all efforts that are conducive to the peaceful resolution of crises, using dialogue, negotiation, mediation, and other such means to resolve disputes, using the establishment of rules and mechanisms to manage and control situations, using the enhancement of mutual trust to ease tensions, and using political means to resolve crises.
Sixth, we must persist in coordinating the maintenance of security in traditional and non-traditional fields. Today’s world has not yet emerged from the haze of the COVID-19 pandemic. Non-traditional security threats such as supply chain disruptions, food crises, energy shortages, terrorism, and climate change have become increasingly prominent. Countries around the world, especially the many countries of Asia, Africa, and Latin America, are facing graver security challenges. No country can stand on its own in the face of such threats, and no country should be left to face these challenges alone. All countries should strengthen coordination and share responsibilities, building a higher-standard global governance mechanism. As President Xi Jinping pointed out: “All countries are on board a great ship with a common destiny. To cross the stormy seas and sail to a bright tomorrow, we must act as if we are all in the same boat…”
III. Adhering to the Overall National Security Outlook, Join Hands with All Parties to Safeguard World Peace
The proposal of the “Global Security Initiative” as “Chinese Wisdom, a Chinese Path, and a Chinese Solution” for dealing with the new situation and new challenges in international security, conforms with the common pursuit of the world upholding multilateralism and maintaining international unity. It responds to the common aspiration of the people of all countries to overcome difficulties together and look forward to a more peaceful and safe international environment. The “Global Security Initiative” is both a concrete manifestation of Xi Jinping Thought on Diplomacy and [his] global security outlook, and a vivid practice for guiding China’s diplomatic work based on the overall national security outlook.
The organic unity of the “Six Persistences” has embodied an epochal, overall, and strategic nature and its relevant content has further continued and developed the important thinking and ideas present in the overall national security outlook, such as “coordinating one’s own security and common security” and “coordinating traditional security and non-traditional security.” It has further enriched the “World Chapter” (世界篇) of the overall national security outlook, making the theoretical system of the overall national security outlook more three-dimensional and systematic. It is the product of Marxism combined with China’s contemporary diplomatic and security practices and experience, and has further enriched and developed the “National Security Chapter” (国家安全篇) of Xi Jinping Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era. The “Global Security Initiative” is another major foreign affairs initiative following on from the “Global Development Initiative” proposed by China last year. It is a concrete manifestation of the real-world applications of the important principle of “coordinated development and security” in foreign affairs work. It demonstrates China’s major country spirit and shouldering of responsibility for actively taking the lead in global economic and security governance, and has also become an important theoretical guide and reference guide for countries around the world to solve the current global security problems.
The Research Center for Overall National Security Outlook and the China Institute of Contemporary International Relations will use the Global Security Initiative as an opportunity, using the promotion of theoretical research on the overall national security outlook and the development of a national security first-level discipline as the two wheels upon which we move forward. [We will] continuously strengthen integrated research on the global security outlook and the overall national security outlook, give full play to our special role as a national high-end think tank in China’s international strategic research and national security research, comprehensively strengthen theoretical research and discourse construction for the global security outlook, tell the world the story of the national security path with Chinese characteristics and the security outlook with Chinese characteristics, and make our own greater contributions to the international dissemination of the overall national security outlook.