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All eyes were on the Chinese defense minister’s debut at the Asia Security Summit in Singapore.
Speaking on China’s security initiative at the 20th Shangri-La Dialogue on Sunday, Chinese State Councilor and Defense Minister Li Shangfu sounded the alarm about “unprecedented” security challenges facing the Asia-Pacific.
“People cannot but ask these questions: Who is disrupting peace in the region? What are the root causes of the chaos and instability? And what should we stay vigilant about and guard against?” said Li.
These questions must be answered in the interests of the security, stability and future of the Asia-Pacific, he underscored.
Noting that “some country” has incited “color revolutions” and proxy wars in different regions, created chaos and turbulence and just walked away leaving a mess behind, Li said such things should never be allowed to happen in the Asian-Pacific region.
“Today, what Asia-Pacific needs are big pies of open and inclusive cooperation, not small cliques that are self-serving and exclusive,” he said.
“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.”
China’s Global Security Initiative
In response to emerging security threats, China has proposed the Global Security Initiative (GSI), which calls for promoting common, comprehensive, cooperative and sustainable security and exploring a new path to security featuring dialogue over confrontation, partnership over alliance and win-win over zero-sum.
In expounding the GSI, Li said China is “strongly” opposed to imposing one’s own will on others, placing one’s own interests above those of others and pursuing one’s security at the expense of others.
Mutual respect should prevail over bullying and hegemony, fairness and justice should transcend the law of the jungle, conflicts and confrontation should be eliminated through mutual trust and consultation, and bloc confrontation should be prevented with openness and inclusiveness, he explained.
As part of implementation of the GSI, China has released a 12-point position on the political settlement of the Ukraine crisis and recently sent a special representative to visit Europe to seek the broadest common ground possible among the international community for resolving the crisis.
In addition, following their April talks in Beijing, Saudi Arabia and lran have restored diplomatic relations, with their rapprochement leading to a chain reaction of reconciliation in the Middle East.
Citing such examples, Li said China takes the legitimate security concerns of other countries seriously, is committed to advancing global security governance, upholds justice and equity, and commits itself to bridging differences and enhancing solidarity.
‘Chinese modernization contributes to world peace’
China has now been on a Chinese path to modernization, one feature of which is peaceful development, a concept enshrined in China’s Constitution.
Li said, the achievements China has made come from the hard work, diligence and creativity of more than one billion Chinese people, not from aggression, expansion or plundering.
China pursues a national defense policy that is defensive in nature and has endeavored to safeguard world and regional security, he said.
Since 2008, China has sent over 139 naval vessels, providing protection to over 7,000 Chinese and foreign ships. In April, PLA Navy ships evacuated from Port Sudan 940 Chinese citizens and more than 230 foreign citizens.
Over the years, China has sent over 50,000 peacekeepers to UN peacekeeping operations, making it the largest troop contributor among the permanent members of the UN Security Council.
Li said, 16 PLA service members did not return home from their missions, and more than 2,000 Chinese peacekeepers are now on duty in seven mission areas.
He quoted a line written by a Chinese soldier on his mission, “If people ask why going to such dangerous places to keep peace, please tell them someone must step forward to safeguard the fundamentals of human civilization.”
That is a solemn commitment made by the Chinese military to the world, said Li.
He noted that China has the best peace record among major countries. “Since the founding of the People’s Republic of China more than 70 years ago, we have never started a conflict, occupied an inch of foreign land or waged a proxy war.”
China is ready to work with all other parties to build stronger security and confidence-building systems, promote more equitable security rules, improve multilateral security mechanisms, and carry out more effective defense and security cooperation, Li added.
‘China’s core interests will never be sacrificed’
Though China stays committed to the path of peaceful development, it will never hesitate to defend its legitimate rights and interests, let alone sacrificing the nation’s core interests, Li stressed.
Noting that the Taiwan question is the core of China’s core interests, he said it brooks no interference from foreign forces, and warned that any act to obscure or hollow out the one-China principle is “both absurd and dangerous.”
“China must be and will be reunified,” he said. “If anyone dares to separate Taiwan from China, the Chinese military will not hesitate for a second. We will fear no opponents and resolutely safeguard national sovereignty and territorial integrity regardless of any cost.”
When it comes to China-U.S. relationship, Li acknowledged that the past few years have seen it at a record low since the two countries established diplomatic ties.
He warned that a severe conflict or confrontation between China and the U.S. will be “an unbearable disaster” for the world, and urged the U.S. side to act with sincerity, match its words with deeds and take concrete actions to prevent the relations from deteriorating.
“The right way for China and the U.S. to get along is following the three principles of mutual respect, peaceful coexistence and win-win cooperation,” he reiterated. (CGTN)