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Chinese defense minister elaborates on China's new security initiative
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Chinese defense minister elaborates on China's new security initiative

Chinese State Councilor and Minister of National Defense Li Shangfu on Sunday elaborated on China's new security initiative.

The sustained prosperity and stability in the Asia-Pacific region hinges on a sound security and development environment, Li said at the 20th Shangri-La Dialogue.

Who is disrupting peace in the region? What are the root causes of chaos and instability? And what should we stay vigilant and guard against? These questions must be answered in the interests of the security, stability and future of the Asia-Pacific, he said.

The Chinese defense minister put forward a four-point proposal on how to pursue security cooperation in the Asia-Pacific.

First, mutual respect should prevail over bullying and hegemony.

Facts have proven that where there is hegemonism and power politics, there will be instability, chaos and even wars, Li said, adding that "we in China believe that the key for countries to live in harmony is mutual respect and treating each other as equals."

"We are strongly opposed to imposing one's own will on others, placing one's own interests above those of others, and pursuing one's own security at the expense of others," he said, citing that some country has willfully interfered in other countries' internal affairs and meddled in the affairs of other regions, and frequently resorted to unilateral sanctions and coercion with force.

It has incited "color revolutions" and proxy wars in different regions, created chaos and turbulence and just walked away leaving a mess behind, Li said.

"We must never allow such things to happen again in the Asia-Pacific ... China firmly supports ASEAN centrality and its strategic autonomy. We are committed to promoting cooperative, collective and common security in our region on the basis of mutual respect," said the minister.

Second, fairness and justice should transcend the law of the jungle.

All countries, big or small, strong or weak, rich or poor, are equal members of the international community. International affairs should be handled by all countries through consultation rather than be dictated by one or a few countries, Li said.

"China always advocates and stays committed to improving justice and equity in the world, and firmly upholds the UN-centered international system, the international order underpinned by international law and basic norms governing international relations based on the purposes and principles of the UN Charter," he added.

China practices multilateralism and pursues win-win cooperation, whereas some country takes a selective approach to rules and international laws, Li noted. "It likes forcing its own rules on others and even attempts to constrain others with a convention itself has not acceded to."

Its so-called "rules-based international order" never clarifies what the rules are and who made these rules. It practices exceptionalism and double standards, and only serves the interests and follows the rules of a small number of countries, the minister said.

"A just and equitable environment for development meets the shared interests of Asia-Pacific countries. Anyone who attempts to fleece the flock or prey on the weak will surely be opposed by countries in the region," he said.

Third, eliminating conflicts and confrontation through mutual trust and consultation.

It is natural for countries to disagree with each other. But there are two approaches to addressing differences, Li said, underlying that one is exacerbating tension and adding fuel to flames while the other is seeking consensus and promoting reconciliation and negotiations.

"China is committed to upholding peace in handling international crises. On issues concerning the Middle East, the Korean Peninsula and Ukraine, China has played a constructive role and made great efforts to cool down the situation and facilitate political reconciliation," the minister noted.

But some country is expanding military bases, reinforcing military presence, intensifying arms race and transferring nuclear weapon technologies to a non-nuclear state, he said.

"All such practices, which it often resorts to, are designed to make enemy, stoke confrontation, fuel the fire and fish in troubled waters," Li said, adding that regional countries have every wisdom and capability to settle their differences and disputes.

"Only enhancing dialogue and communication and promoting solidarity and cooperation will ensure stability in our region," he noted.

Fourth, preventing bloc confrontation with openness and inclusiveness.

The Cold War mentality is now resurging and greatly increasing security risks of bloc confrontation in the Asia-Pacific, Li said, citing that some big power continued to promote its so-called "Indo-Pacific Strategy" at the Shangri-La Dialogue.

China holds that no strategy should be based on ideological ground and aim to build exclusive military alliances against imagined threats, as this could easily lead to a self-fulfilling prophecy, he stressed.

"The true design of pushing for NATO-like military alliances in the Asia-Pacific is to hold countries in the region hostage and play up conflict and confrontation. Such attempts will only plunge the region into a whirlpool of division, disputes and conflicts," the Chinese minister said.

History has proven that bloc politics, division and confrontation have never delivered genuine security, and they can only escalate tension and destabilize the region, Li said.

"Today what Asia-Pacific needs are big pies of open and inclusive cooperation, not small cliques that are self-serving and exclusive. We must never forget the catastrophes inflicted by the two world wars and the Cold War. And we must never allow such tragedies to happen again," said the minister.

XinhuaGu Yetao

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