The world today is undergoing profound transformation unseen in a century. Peace and development as the call of our day again face severe challenges on a global scale, with more prominent instability, uncertainty and complexity. After proposing the Global Development Initiative (GDI) at the general debate of the 76th session of the United Nations General Assembly last year, Chinese President Xi Jinping proposed the Global Security Initiative (GSI) at the 2022 Annual Conference of the Boao Forum for Asia Annual Conference, which stressed a commitment to the vision of common, comprehensive, cooperative and sustainable security.
Security and development are the two wings of a bird or the two wheels of a cart. The GSI and the GDI mutually support and complement for the future of mankind, like the shape of the Chinese character “人”. As an important global public good created by China for the international community, the two initiatives are China’s solutions to the questions of our time and a vivid practice of the vision of building a community with a shared future for mankind in the field of security and development.
1. Three changes reveal the challenges facing the world
Changes of the world, of our times and of history are unfolding in ways like never before. We live in an era where traditional and non-traditional security issues are intertwined, a historical perspective and realpolitik interact in a complex way, changes unseen in a century are evolving fast, and development obstacles and security challenges are mounting.
First of all, the impact and constraints on security and development are increasing, and the world has become significantly uncertain. The COVID-19 epidemic and the ongoing Russia-Ukraine conflict underscore the plight of global security governance. Traditional security issues such as geopolitical conflicts and terrorism play havoc with the global economic development. Globalization is moving towards global modularization, impacting the global supply chain, industrial chain and value chain. According to the Asian Economic Outlook and Integration Progress Annual Report 2022 released by Boao Forum for Asia on April 20, the obstructed supply chain led to a continuous rise in inflation, and some economies politicized the issue of supply chain security, further destabilizing the global supply chain. The World Bank’s Europe and Central Asia Economic Update also pointed out that the Ukrainian economy is expected to contract by 45.1% in 2022, and the Russian economy contract by 11.2%, and emerging markets and developing countries will face the brunt of the conflict.
Second, the principal contradiction and the principal aspect of the contradiction are constantly changing. The world is currently undergoing changes of a magnitude not seen in a century. Mankind have yet to walk from the shadow of a once-in-a-century pandemic, but new traditional security risks are already emerging. The weak and faltering global economic recovery is compounded by a widening development gap. While governance deficit in areas like climate change has hardly been addressed, new issues such as digital governance are also vying for attention. Non-traditional security issues cover a plethora of fields such as food security, energy security, cybersecurity, data security, climate security, and space security, becoming key global issues. 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) slows down, and there are even setbacks in some areas, according to the Sustainable Development Goals Progress Chart 2021.
Third, history abounds with variables, evolving in a non-linear way. To address the changes in history, we must strengthen our self-confidence in history. Citing an old saying from the “Guanzi” collection of ancient Chinese writings, “One must not change his commitment or give up his pursuit even in the face of danger and risk.” A review of human history teaches us that the more difficult things get, the greater the need grows to stay confident. Problems are not to be afraid of, as it is one problem after another that have driven the progress of human society.
Therefore, faced with the many challenges, countries around the world are emphasizing “resilience”, indicating that security and development are becoming intertwined. In the new era and the new stage of development, security is a concept in the sense of development rather than in the sense of survival, and development is not to seek survival but to get out of the “security dilemma” at a higher level. How to balance security and development has become a major issue for all countries.
2. Six proposals points out the path of peace and development
President Xi pointed out that we must give overall consideration to development and security. Security is the prerequisite for development, which in turn ensures security. Mankind is a community that cannot be separated. Regardless of the changes to international and national situations, each country must give overall consideration to the security community and the development community. What the China carries forward and pursues is the vision of peace and harmony. The two initiatives launched by China reflect China’s moral perceptive and key role in today’s world. This is in stark contrast to some countries’ indifference to the crises in other countries, and offers proposal for a better future for mankind.
Focus on “development” and “security”. The GDI proposes key areas of cooperation, namely poverty alleviation, food security, COVID-19 response and vaccines, development financing, climate change and green development, industrialization, the digital economy, and connectivity, give velocity in implementing the 2030 Agenda. While the GSI advocates the new thinking on common, comprehensive, cooperative, and sustainable security. These have similarities with other countries’ vision on common development and common security in many areas. The initiatives provide important vision and guidance for solving the development deficit and cracking the security dilemma. The proposed initiatives echo the global need for economic recovery in the post-pandemic era with inflation continuing to rise and various crises in trade, energy and food security.
Show concern for “people” and “human rights”. The GDI keeps to the people-centered idea of “ensuring and improving living standards as well as protecting and promoting human rights through development”, aiming at the vision of development priority, common development and long-term development. The GSI places a high value on the reasonable security concerns of all countries, opposes the maintenance of security at the expense of other countries’ security, and emphasizes that the safety and health of people are the prerequisites for human development and progress. The essence of the GSI is to follow the new security vision, with mutual respect as the inseparable principle, and building a security community as its long-term goal, adhering to a new path of security.
Adhere to “inclusiveness” and “independence”. The GDI pays attention to the special needs of developing countries, and focuses on solving the issues of unbalanced and inadequate development among and within countries. It puts special emphasis on eliminating digital deficits and digital divides in the digital age. The GSI upholds respect for the sovereignty and territorial integrity of all countries, non-interference in the internal affairs of other countries, and respect for the development paths and social institutions independently chosen by the peoples of all countries. In addition to enhancing the people’s sense of happiness and benefit, it also ensures a sense of security, and ultimately achieve well-rounded human development.
Advocate “action-oriented” and “dialogue and consultation”. The GDI focuses on cooperation in eight key areas in line with the implementation of the UN 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. China has announced that it will provide US$3 billion international aid for developing countries in fighting the epidemic and restoring economic and social development. Regarding the situation of Ukraine, China promotes peace talks, upholds resolving state-to-state differences and disputes in a peaceful manner through dialogue and consultation, and opposes unilateral sanctions not authorized by the Security Council as well as long-arm jurisdiction.
Emphasize “multilateralism” and “openness”. Peace and security, human rights, the rule of Law and development are the four pillars of the United Nations, according to the UN Charter. Both initiatives uphold true multilateralism, observing the purposes and principles of the UN Charter, and upholding the international system with the United Nations at its core. To overcome the major challenges to the survival and development of mankind, we should reject the Cold War mentality, oppose unilateralism and say no to group politics and bloc confrontation. Both initiatives are open to the world and welcome the participation of all countries.
Bear in mind the “system” and “whole”. Countries around the world are like passengers aboard the same ship who share the same destiny. For the ship to navigate the storm and sail toward a bright future, all passengers must pull together. The thought of throwing anyone overboard is simply not acceptable. The international community has evolved into a complex, intricate, organic machine. The lack of any component will have a significant impact on the running of the machine. Those who are dismantled and those who dismantle it will be equally harmed. Any act of unilateralism and extreme self-interest will not work at all in today’s world. Any act of decoupling, supply cut-off, or putting extreme pressure will never work.
3. Three thoughts to tackle global challenges
It is the best of times, it is the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom. The Chinese proposals shows the overall thinking of the top-level planning, and also contains the specific perspective of solving practical challenges. The two initiatives promote the positive interaction of achieving high-quality development and ensuring high-level security.
First, it is unjustified for the people of all countries to pay for regional conflicts. Every country firmly safeguard its legitimate rights and interests. The GSI emphasizes the sharing, indivisibility and sustainability of security under the vision of a community with a shared future for mankind. It is also a mechanism and path opposing the wanton use of unilateral sanctions and long-arm jurisdiction. It also refers to security capacity building, emphasizing consolidating the material foundation for security, while realizing digital and data security in the era of digital civilization. What happened in Europe just shows that some countries’ security policies have failed, the ideas have outdated. It was like the smartphones in the era of globalization, however, the operating system used is still the Cold War mentality of the last century.
Second, it is necessary to advance the initiatives both locally and globally through building a global partnership. Any country, big or small, strong or weak, rich or poor, inside or outside the region, is an equal member of the international community. We should firmly uphold international fairness and justice, promote and achieve the mutual and coordinated promotion of development and security. China conducts amicable cooperation with all countries on the basis of the Five Principles of Peaceful Coexistence. More than 100 countries and a number of international organizations have expressed support for the GDI since the official launch of the Group of Friends of the GDI. In addition to being a new vision of security, the solutions for the global economy go beyond any one country. Countries that are leading have a responsibility of not only looking at themselves but also at the global situation.
Third, it is urgent to focus on the areas that significantly hamper global development and security, and pay attention to the countries and regions hardest hit by global challenges. Nowadays, 1 in 10 countries in the world has been sanctions by other country. It tells us who is showing responsibilities and taking the initiatives in promoting global cooperation and who is sowing trouble and inciting confrontations. The GSI and the GDI offer solutions to the issues and challenges that confront human society as well as promotes the building of a new form of international relations featuring mutual respect, fairness, justice, and win-win cooperation. The GSI together with GDI is featuring dialogue without confrontation, partnership without alliance, and win-win results rather than zero-sum.
“Mankind has a shared future, and the interests of all countries are closely linked.” The more difficulties and challenges we face, the more we must capture and create opportunities based on the immediate crises and difficulties, and keep a hold on the initiative in development. China will stay not only as a provider of global public good, but also an implementer by offering Chinese solutions to peace deficit, security deficit, trust deficit and governance deficit, and promote the building of a community with a shared future for mankind.
(WANG Yiwei is Jean Monnet Chair Professor, Director of Institute of International Affairs, Director of Center for European Union Studies, Renmin University of China; CHEN Chao is PH.D, candidate of School of International Studies, Renmin University of China)
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