Symbiosis of Peace & Development: China Throws a Lifebuoy to a World in Danger

Hussein Askary (Belt and Road Institute in Sweden)

China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs issued a paper on February 21 to define in detail the Global Security Initiative (GSI) proposed by President of the People’s Republic of China Xi Jinping in April 2022 at the Boao Forum for Asia. The launching of the GSI came shortly after the outbreak of the Ukraine war, as tension in Europe was increasing, and a diplomatic solution seemed to have taken a back seat relative to military escalation, with more weapons pouring into Ukraine making the situation more complicated to resolve. President Xi presented a set of 13 principles to secure global peace and co-existence. But he also, in the same breath, raised the issue of global economic challenges, sustainable development goals, and peace and security as one package, calling for solidarity among all nations. “The hardships and challenges are yet another reminder that humanity is a community with a shared future where all people rise and fall together,” he said.

The paper issued by the Chinese Foreign Affairs Ministry is titled “The Global Security Initiative Concept Paper” and came one day after State Councilor and senior diplomat Wang Yi left the Munich Security Conference, where a poisonous atmosphere had developed, with many Western officials agitating against China for its “neutral” stance towards the conflict in Ukraine and its special relationship to Russia.

The symbiosis between security and development

It should be borne in mind that another initiative, the Global Development Initiative (GDI) was presented by President Xi Jinping in his UNGA speech in September 2021 to address “steering global development toward a new stage of balanced, coordinated and inclusive growth in face of the severe shocks of COVID-19.” President Xi called for staying committed to development as a priority and strengthen the priorities of the international community but achieving them through a process of promotion of industrialization in developing nations. “The world needs to increase input in development, advance on a priority basis cooperation on poverty alleviation, food security, COVID-19 response and vaccines, development financing, climate change and green development, industrialization, digital economy and connectivity, among other areas, and accelerate implementation of the UN 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development”, he said.

In this sense security and development become inseparable. Peace through economic development becomes the new norm for global governance. China is attempting to address the underlying causes of insecurity in the world and also the sources of conflicts. There is need to both redefining the notions of development and security by all nations. The Belt and Road Initiative, launched by President Xi in 2013 and is still a cornerstone of Chinese foreign policy, has proved to be a suitable and attractive model among developing nations. It should be supported by the Western powers, not undermined, for the benefit of all.

The paper mentions the word “development” 17 times, but in almost every case it is adjacent to “security” and “peace”. Already in the first sentence, the paper states: “The issue of security bears on the well-being of people of all countries, the lofty cause of world peace and development, and the future of humanity.”

While it is not oblivious to the many crises and challenges “rarely seen before” in the world, the paper keeps the focus on that fact that “the deficits in peace, development, security and governance are growing, and the world is once again at a crossroads in history.” Despite all these challenges and dangers, it assets, this is “era is also one brimming with hope.”

“We are convinced that the historical trends of peace, development and win-win cooperation are unstoppable, it reiterates, adding that “upholding world peace and security and promoting global development and prosperity should be the common pursuit of all countries.”

The main principles of the GSI

However, there is a context in which these proposals are made, a context which is unfamiliar with the Chinese notion of “win-win” cooperation, and a “community of a shared future for mankind”, because the world has been dominated by a contrary ideology of “zero-sum games”, “winner takes it all”, and “might makes right”, and malicious geopolitical manipulations by the big powers to empower themselves on the expense of everyone else. That system has now come to the dead end, where new powers and new centers of economic power are rising, and the confrontation between the two can lead to a global conflict, a World War III as many people are increasingly saying.

China is not intending to reinvent the wheel of international relations. The hard-won UN Charter is the basic law of the global governance China supports. This has been the traditional policy of China since the 1950s when it introduced “the five principles of peaceful co-existence”. However, with the complex situation facing the world today, it was necessary for China to redefine and elucidate some of these principles. Many powers are inventing new concepts such as “the rules-based system” which is an attempt to bend the UN Charter to fit their own interests and ambitions. This has become a dangerous concept as it has been used in different ways in different situations to interfere in the internal affairs of other nations, wage regime-change campaigns of political destabilization and hybrid wars, or outright invasion of nations. This has had disastrous results not only for the victim nations, but also for global security and peace, such as the proliferation of terrorist groups and activities in aftermath of the invasion of Iraq, Libya, and interference in Syria.

The main principles of the GSI, as presented in this paper, can be summarized as:

– Commitment to respecting the sovereignty and territorial integrity of all countries.

– Upholding non-interference in internal affairs.

– Respecting the independent choices of development paths and social systems made by people in different countries.

– Commitment the purposes and principles of the UN Charter and giving the UN a greater role in coordinating peaceful resolution of conflicts.

– Rejecting the Cold War mentality.

– Opposing unilateralism and say no to group politics and bloc confrontation.

– Commitment to taking the legitimate security concerns of all countries seriously.

– Upholding the principle of indivisible security, build a balanced, effective and sustainable security architecture, and oppose the pursuit of one’s own security at the cost of others’ security.

– Commitment to peacefully resolving differences and disputes between countries through dialogue and consultation.

– Supporting all efforts conducive to the peaceful settlement of crises.

– Rejecting double standards when dealing with different conflicts in different regions.

– Opposing the wanton use of unilateral sanctions and long-arm jurisdiction.

– Working together on regional disputes and global challenges such as terrorism, climate change, cybersecurity and biosecurity.

– Strengthening international cooperation on outer space and safeguard the international order in outer space underpinned by international law.

– Supporting the World Health Organization in playing a leading role in global governance in public health and coordination of response to pandemics and other global infectious diseases.

– Safeguarding global food and energy security through agricultural development and trade.

The paper stresses that the essence of this new vision of security is to advocate a concept of “common security”, respecting and safeguarding the security of every country in “a holistic approach”. It also emphasizes the “pursuit of sustainable security, resolving conflicts through development and eliminating the breeding ground for insecurity.”

It is important for concerned citizens as well as policy makers and researchers to read and examine the full text of this paper in order to comprehend the full magnitude of the GSI.

Read the full text of the paper here!