China’s Xi Jinping has a better plan
But the Western media cannot see it, let alone report it
Xi Jinping, President of the People’s Republic of China, delivered the keynote address (via video) at the opening ceremony of the Boao Forum for Asia Annual Conference 2022 on April 21. The speech contained no surprises. It reaffirmed the basic principles that have guided China’s relations with the world during the past decade.
Xi began by recognizing the immense challenges that humanity confronts. We have yet to overcome the pandemic, he asserted, and new challenges to security are emerging, including those resulting from government inattention to climate change and the lack of a system of digital governance, combined with a widening development gap. However, he observed, a review of human history teaches us that creative solutions to problems drive human progress. Above all we must not lose confidence in the future of humanity.
A review of human history also teaches us that the best way to respond to challenges is through cooperation and solidarity. We must not forget “that humanity is a community with a shared future where all people rise and fall together, and that all countries need to follow the trend of the times featuring peace, development and win-win cooperation.” In characterizing “the trend of the times” in terms of peace and cooperation, Xi evidently is not referring to the unconventional war launched by the USA against various targeted nations since 2014; he refers to the declarations of the Non-Aligned Movement (with 120 member nations) and regional associations of the global South during the last fifteen years.
China proposes a Global Security Initiative
The human community, Xi maintains, must work together on common priorities, including attention to health. “We must keep COVID vaccines a global public good and ensure their accessibility and affordability in developing countries. China has provided over 2.1 billion doses of vaccines to more than 120 countries and international organizations.” China plans to donate an additional 600 million doses of vaccines to Africa and 150 million doses to ASEAN countries as part of its effort to close the immunization gap.
The human community must give priority to investment in scientific and technological innovations that drive economic growth, especially at the present time, when the pandemic has aggravated North-South economic inequality. “We should pay due attention to the pressing needs of developing countries and advance practical cooperation in such key areas as poverty reduction, food security, development financing and industrialization, in a bid to address uneven and inadequate development.” In this regard, he cited China’s proposal last year for a Global Development Initiative, which he noted, has been supported by the United Nations and other international organizations and nearly 100 countries (see “Xi Jinping proposes Global Development Initiative: The President of China seeks win-win cooperation,” October 19, 2021).
The human community must give priority, Xi declared, to peace and stability in the world, with recognition that security in the human community is indivisible, or in other words, no nation has security unless all nations have security. Therefore, the renewal of the Cold War is an error. “It has been proven time and again that the Cold War mentality would only wreck the global peace framework, that hegemonism and power politics would only endanger world peace, and that bloc confrontation would only exacerbate security challenges in the 21st century.”
Accordingly, Xi proposed a Global Security Initiate, intended to “promote security for all in the world.” It is, he declared, a “vision of common, comprehensive, cooperative and sustainable security” that respects the sovereignty and territorial integrity of all countries and upholds the principle of non-interference in the internal affairs of states. It is a vision that respects “the independent choices of development paths and social systems made by people in different countries.” It stands with “the purposes and principles of the UN Charter.” It is opposed to unilateralism and to double standards. It is “committed to peacefully resolving differences and disputes between countries through dialogue and consultation.” In making these declarations, Xi invokes the concepts and language of the Non-Aligned Movement and its leading nations of the last sixty-seven years, beginning with the Bandung conference of 1955. Indeed, Xi declared that the Bandung Spirit is as relevant today as ever.
Moreover, the Global Security Initiative is based in a vision that rejects the Cold War mentality and confrontations between blocs of nations. It is “committed to taking the legitimate security concerns of all countries seriously.” It upholds the principle of indivisible security, in opposition to “the pursuit of one's own security at the cost of others' security.” It seeks to “build a balanced, effective and sustainable security architecture.” It opposes “the wanton use of unilateral sanctions and long-arm jurisdiction.” It proposes that nations “work together on regional disputes and global challenges such as terrorism, climate change, cybersecurity and biosecurity.” In making these declarations, Xi makes clear the opposition of China to the U.S. unconventional war against Russia and other targeted nations since 2014.
The human community must also, Xi maintained, give priority to challenges of global governance. In today’s world, with its sophisticated and integrated apparatus, any effort to remove any single part will cause serious problems for the whole. Therefore, excessive pursuit of self-interest is doomed to fail. It follows that we need to: “embrace a global governance philosophy that emphasizes extensive consultation, joint contribution and shared benefits; promote the common values of humanity; and advocate exchanges and mutual learning between civilizations. We need to uphold true multilateralism.”
The media cannot see the common interest of humanity in security for all
There is one thing for sure that the Western media did not do. It did not faithfully report that Chinese President Xi Jinping had presented a vision for the protection of the common national security concerns of all nations, a vision that stood in clear political and philosophical contrast to the national security perspective of the Biden administration. It did not call the people of the United States to public debate and reflection on the two approaches, with an analysis and reflection on which of the two visions better serves the interests of the United States or the common interests of humanity. It does not ask the people, how would you rate the speech of Xi, in comparison to the speeches of Biden? Nor did it pointedly ask the people, have you ever heard a president of the United States give a discourse with such significance for the future of world peace? With respect to the last question, it reasonably could be said that John F. Kennedy’s peace speeches in 1963 are comparable, but you may have to go back to that distant time to find any other worthy example.
The Western media by and large ignored Xi’s speech, which is its modus operandi with respect to insightful discourses by leaders of the global South. But the story was covered in Reuters, based on reports by Kevin Yao in Boao and Yew Lun Tian in Beijing. The Reuters article is standard fare for the Western media, in that it gave a brief (four-sentence long) summary of the speech, and then devoted an equal amount of space to the reply of a U.S. State Department spokesperson to a question about Xi’s speech at a regular briefing.
The problem here is not only that the maneuver of “superficiality plus equal time” ensures dismissal of Xi’s important speech. The problem also is that Western journalists appear to have left the State Department spokesperson’s dismissive commentary, along the lines that China was parroting the Kremlin, go unchallenged. Apparently, the Western media does not expect the U.S. government to provide a substantive response to China’s comprehensive alternative proposal for national security, rooted in the long-standing hopes of the majority of humanity.
Moreover, again true to form, the Reuters article consults “experts.” It quotes Li Mingjiang, associate professor at the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies in Singapore, as follows: “If China deems actions by U.S. and its allies on Taiwan or the South China Sea as disregarding its security concerns, it could evoke the concept of 'indivisible security' to claim the moral high ground in retaliation.” Here we have a commentator looking for confrontational implications of a speech essentially dedicated to global cooperation, in a context in which the speech is at best incompletely reported. To be sure, in any situation of debate and discussion, it would be reasonable to put forth the idea that a discourse that pretends to advocate cooperation is, in reality, a rhetorical maneuver to hide particular interests. But such a claim would have to be defended with reasons and evidence, not merely suggested in an intellectual vacuum.
Another expert quoted in the Reuters article distorts in a different way. Jude Blanchette, a China expert at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, was quoted as saying that a new global architecture could be not be built around Xi’s proposal. Therefore, Blanchette sees Xi's speech as likely an attempt to project existing elements of Beijing's foreign policy as solutions to current problems of global instability.
Apparently, Blanchette has not been observing the Third World, where an attempt is being made in practice to build an alternative world order, in accordance with the concepts of Xi’s proposal, which is for the most part a reaffirmation of the principles that have been guiding the foreign policy of China and leading Third World nations for the last fifteen years. Perhaps Xi is saying to the USA and the West, in the Chinese diplomatic way, that China and the Third World are finding a better road to peace and security, one in which the security of each is ensured by the institutionally protected security of all.
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