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By ZHANG JIE | China Daily Global | Updated: 2022-05-12 07:53
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YANG MEINI/FOR CHINA DAILY

Implementation of global development, security initiatives is key to maintaining peace, stability in China's neighborhood

Addressing the general debate of the 76th session of the United Nations General Assembly via video link in September 2021, President Xi Jinping proposed a Global Development Initiative. In April 2022, President Xi proposed a Global Security Initiative while delivering a keynote speech via video link at the opening ceremony of the Boao Forum for Asia Annual Conference 2022. The two initiatives embody China's solutions and wisdom to address the global threats and challenges the world faces.

Prioritizing the implementation of the Global Development Initiative and the Global Security Initiative in China's neighborhood and further improving China's neighborhood diplomacy have become a pressing task both for China and for the region, as the United States has intensified its comprehensive competition with China, resulting in its undermining stability in the region.

China's neighborhood is the foundation for its prosperity. But the overall security situation in China's neighborhood has been increasingly complicated and the region's post-pandemic economic recovery is sluggish.

In 2021, the Joe Biden administration further promoted its aggressive Indo-Pacific strategy and quickened the pace of building a security network centering on the US allies and partners. Since the outbreak of the Russia-Ukraine conflict, the US has been attempting to create an Indo-Pacific version of NATO. By "binding together "China and Russia, the US has been concocting a so-called struggle between democracy and autocracy and attempting to launch a new Cold War in China's neighborhood. Its ultimate goal is to worsen the security situation in China's neighborhood to suppress China's rise.

In the face of fiercer Sino-US competition, China's neighboring countries have adjusted their strategies. Japan, Australia and the Republic of Korea have strengthened their security cooperation with the US in an attempt to contain China by using the US-led alliance. Although most countries in the region have adopted a wait-and-see stance, trying to seek a balance between major powers and avoid taking sides, the entire region has witnessed the constant tug-of-war between containment and anti-containment, between "decoupling" and "anti-decoupling "efforts and between the securitization of economic issues and upholding regional cooperation. The situation in the region has become more complex and volatile and the future prospects remain uncertain.

The competition between major powers has also intensified the complexity of traditional and nontraditional security challenges in the region. Traditional regional hotspot issues-such as the Taiwan question, the South China Sea issue and the China-India border dispute-have become notably interconnected, increasing the risk of accidental military conflicts or frictions. With regard to non-traditional security issues, terrorism has become active again, greatly threatening China's overseas interests. The combined impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic and the Russia-Ukraine conflict have resulted in economic and political turbulence in countries such as Pakistan and Sri Lanka. In the future, similar situations may occur in more countries.

To cope with such changes in the region, China should push for the implementation of the two initiatives in its neighborhood.

Over the past few decades, China's neighborhood has maintained overall stability with no major military conflict or friction and achieved rapid economic growth. This is driven by all parties' consensus on development, and is closely related to China's contribution to the region's economic growth. China has been building relations with its neighboring countries based on amity, sincerity, mutual benefit and inclusiveness, which has resulted in achieving rapid domestic economic growth while boosting mutually beneficial cooperation with neighboring countries.

China should now prioritize the implementation of the Global Development Initiative and Global Security Initiative in its neighborhood, so as to jointly safeguard regional security and stability with neighboring countries.

First, as globalization faces headwinds, the successful experience of multilateralism and regional governance in China's neighborhood has become increasingly valuable. Right now, China should encourage small and medium-sized countries in the region to jointly support multilateralism, make the most of existing regional cooperation mechanisms to strengthen dialogue and communication on pandemic prevention and control as well as on post-pandemic economic recovery, and oppose any moves aimed at inciting confrontation and divisions based on ideology or forming exclusive, confrontational cliques in the region, so as to avoid being dragged into a new Cold War.

Second, China should prioritize the implementation of the Global Development Initiative in its neighborhood. In today's world, China and its neighboring countries should join hands to cope with the economic impacts of the pandemic and the Russia-Ukraine conflict, and help countries in need to restore political and economic stability. More importantly, in the long run, China should prioritize development issues and pursue innovation-driven development, formulating initiatives to bolster regional cooperation in key areas such as poverty reduction, food security, pandemic prevention and control and vaccines, development financing, climate change and green development.

Third, China and its neighboring countries should jointly safeguard peace in the region. As proposed in the Global Security Initiative, China and neighboring countries should stay committed to the vision of common, comprehensive, cooperative and sustainable security; stay committed to good-neighborliness and friendly relations, and peacefully resolve the differences and disputes between countries through dialogue and consultation; strengthen cooperation in maintaining security in the non-traditional domain; achieve sustainable security and development.

Last but not least, a new type of regional order should be established to safeguard regional peace and stability. China should continue to support the central role of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations in the regional architecture, and seek to build a balanced, effective and sustainable security architecture in collaboration with small and medium-sized countries in the region, and push the regional order toward a more open, inclusive and win-win direction.

The author is a researcher at the National Institute of International Strategy at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences. The author contributed this article to China Watch, a think tank powered by China Daily. The views do not necessarily reflect those of China Daily.

Contact the editor at editor@chinawatch.cn

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