Rising to the security challenges

China Daily | 作者: | 时间: 2014-05-26 | 责编: Li Xiaoyu
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Editor's Note: At a recent seminar at China Institute of International Studies, some scholars discussed the traditional and non-traditional security challenges facing China and Asia, and suggested ways to improve security cooperation in the region, which could be important for the upcoming Conference on Interaction and Confidence-Building Measures in Asia. Following are excerpts from their speeches:

Two key phrases can be used to describe today's Asia - economic growth and security dilemma - which paradoxically accompany each other.

In economic terms, Asian countries are experiencing unprecedented integration of interests and economic interdependence. In particular, after the 2008 global financial crisis, Asian nations realized the importance of working together for a prosperous future.

As a regional power in Asia, China is working to establish win-win ties with other countries, which will also help maintain regional stability. China and the United States agreed to build a "new type of major-power relationship" last year, which features cooperation, mutual respect and non-confrontation. China has also deepened its strategic partnership with Russia. Besides, the Chinese and Indian heads of government exchanged visits in 2013, when the Republic of Korea president also visited China.

However, the region, especially East Asia still faces very serious traditional security challenges. While confrontation on the Korea Peninsula continues, maritime territorial disputes have intensified between China and Japan, Russia and Japan, the ROK and Japan, as well as between China and some Southeast Asian countries. To make things worse, the US' alliance with some Asian countries and Japan's militarist policies are posing a threat to peace and stability in the Asia-Pacific region.

A deeper analysis will show how the US' Cold War mentality is behind almost all these problems. To solve them, it is necessary for major countries to cooperate to build a peaceful, stable and cooperative Asia. But to do that, they have to abandon their Cold War mentality, because it is impossible to cope with the challenges of the 21st century by having a 20th century mindset.

China has been making efforts to solve those problems. For example, Shanghai will host the Conference on Interaction and Confidence-Building Measures in Asia, whose theme will be "shaping the future through Asia-Pacific partnership". The conference will promote a new sense of security and encourage participants to discuss common, comprehensive, cooperative and sustainable security, so as to form new structures for security and cooperation in Asia.

Ruan Zongze, vice-director of China Institute of International Studies.

Of all the bilateral relations in the Asia-Pacific region, that between the US and China must be the most important and influential. The emerging concept of "a new type of major-power relationship", which features mutual strategic trust, is thus essential in maintaining peace and stability in the region.

But how can strategic trust be promoted between the two countries? A key element for this is the strategic insight of decision-makers and elites on both sides. There might be disputes and different definitions of interests, but as long as the two sides realize that theirs is not a zero-sum-game, bilateral disputes will not turn into open conflicts.

For that to happen, however, the two countries have to have respect for each other. Respect for each other means respecting each other's mode of development and core interests so as to have stable expectations from each other's actions. The recent remarks of certain US officials on China's territorial disputes, like the Diaoyu Islands dispute, are devoid of such respect. Hence, the US should take steps to prevent its officials from making such comments in the future.

Strategic reassurance, or a series of institutionalized, in-depth dialogues, and explanations on policies and strategies that openly call for each other's trust, are other requirements that the two sides have to fulfill. Besides taking steps to make each other confident, which would show the world that China is committed to peaceful development and the US welcomes China's rise, the two sides should also make efforts to build a more fair and balanced world, instead of forming a "G2".

More importantly, the two countries need to cultivate self-restraint. Both in the East and the West, self-restraint is used to strike a balance and pursue coordination at a higher level. The concept is now adopted in international relations for the common good. One such example is China's promise to never seek hegemony. This culture needs to be promoted through joint Sino-US efforts, for instance, to resolve disputes through dialogues, not confrontations.

That will in turn help establish friendship through virtuous interactions. As two core nations in any international circle, China and the US are responsible for maintaining and promoting strategic mutual trust for the security and benefit of all.

Chen Dongxiao, vice-director of Shanghai Institute for International Studies.

Much attention has been paid to the traditional security challenges facing Asia, such as maritime territorial disputes and the confrontation on the Korean Peninsula. But few notice that non-traditional security challenges, too, are threatening Asia. Rampant terrorism in South Asia, religious extremism and separatism in Central Asia, drug trafficking in Southeast Asia and piracy on the high seas all threaten Asian people's security, and their roots of these evils lie in imbalanced development.

In some sense, non-traditional security challenges can be more destructive because they are without borders and thus can easily spread from one country to another and are more difficult to root out.

Asian countries have no choice but to join hands to cope with such challenges. Unlike traditional security challenges that feature zero-sum-games, non-traditional ones can create win-win situations. Therefore, the countries involved need to give up their Cold War mentality and contribute their share for the betterment of all, including themselves.

Countries in the region need to first establish new mechanisms, such as security forums and coordination conferences, to enable all sides to cooperate sincerely. They also need to deepen interaction in research so that they can understand each other's intentions and avoid confrontations. And most importantly, they have to change their style of thinking to accept that non-traditional security challenges are a serious challenge.

As the biggest country in Asia, China can play a leading role in such efforts. Actually, China has already been making efforts in that direction - its Silk Road economic belt and the Maritime Silk Road policies, for example, offer good opportunities for cooperation to fight non-traditional security challenges. But there has not been much cooperation on the issue - some people in Russia fear that China's efforts could curb the integration process of the Commonwealth of Independent States, while some Southeast Asian countries doubt China's intentions. So, China, Russia and the other countries need to be more sincere with each other to further intensify their cooperation.

Li Yongquan, director of the Institute of Russian, Eastern European, Central Asian Studies, affiliated to the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences.

China faces both traditional and non-traditional security challenges. The traditional security challenges are mainly its dispute with Japan over the Diaoyu Islands and the territorial disputes with some Southeast Asian countries in the South China Sea. These traditional security challenges for China are challenges for the entire Asia-Pacific region, too, because any conflict that involves China is bound to affect the other countries, both politically and economically.

Compared with traditional security challenges, non-traditional ones are often without borders and, hence, their impact can be more far-reaching. But, at the same time, they are less sensitive, making it easier for countries to cooperate to deal with them.

So, China should first deepen its cooperation with other countries on non-traditional security challenges, and build a strong regional cooperation mechanism through the process. This will also help promote China's regional governance abilities, like setting agendas, working out norms and coordinating resources. Following are some fields open for cooperation:

Disaster management. As a region that shares the largest ocean as well as the largest continent, the Asia-Pacific is vulnerable to natural disasters. In 2011 alone, floods created havoc in Thailand, Australia and the Philippines, and earthquakes devastated Japan and New Zealand, affecting 170 million people and causing a loss of $282 billion. Although East Asian countries have established multiple mechanisms to tackle natural disasters, they need to be widened and strengthened to promote deeper mutual trust.

Food security. The 2007-08 world grain crisis intensified the competition, and thus conflicts, among East Asian countries for grain resources. Although the eighth East Asia Summit in 2013 issued a declaration on food security, the resultant mechanism for cooperation is still weak. As one of the world's leading grain producers, China can fill the blank by taking initiatives for cooperation.

Environmental protection. Sandstorms and smog show that "pollution is without borders", with some media outlets in the Republic of Korea even claiming that 60 percent of the country's smog "comes from China". The figure may not be accurate, but the development offers China an opportunity to work with other countries to protect the environment.

Epidemic prevention. Asia has certain advantages in conducting research on epidemic diseases. China, on its part, has accumulated ample experience by tackling epidemics such as SARS in 2003 and bird flu several times. Therefore, it can help relatively less developed countries and regions with its technologies and expertise to conduct research on some diseases.

Maritime security. Actually, there is great need and potential for cooperation in maritime transportation, marine environmental protection, rescue and relief operations, and maritime dispute resolution. China should initiate and lead the cooperation mechanism to dispel the doubts of some countries over its disputes in the East China Sea and the South China Sea. An example of such cooperation is the search operations to find the Malaysia Airlines Flight 370, which disappeared after taking off from Kuala Lumpur for Beijing on March 8. Such cooperation between multiple countries should continue.

Wei Ling, director of Asia-Pacific Center, China Foreign Affairs University.


Source: China Daily http://usa.chinadaily.com.cn/world/2014-05/19/content_17517391.htm