China's security policy is based on the basic reality that it is a developing country with the strategic goal of achieving peaceful development.
With regard to the international situation, China's security policy is based primarily on three aspects.
First, the country keeps a close watch on non-traditional security threats as well as attaches great importance to coping with traditional security threats.
The core of the country's national security is to safeguard its sovereignty and territorial integrity and guarantee its survival and development.
In the post-Cold War era, local wars and armed conflicts have been raging across the world. The year 2006, for example, saw 44 wars in various regions of the world, five more than 2005, a "peak year" after the Cold War ended. This shows that hegemonism and power politics still exist and the world is not at peace.
On China's part, national reunification has yet to be completely achieved and therefore the traditional security threat remains. China pursues a national policy that is defensive by nature, and also adopts an active-defense strategy.
The non-traditional security threat, represented by terrorism, is posing a serious danger to humanity, particularly in the wake of the September 11 terror attacks.
Although China is not the primary target of international terrorism, it is also confronted by terror threats. For example, East Turkistan terrorist elements list our overseas institutions and personnel as targets.
Experience shows that purely military action does not work effectively. Instead, comprehensive measures are called for. Striking at the root cause of the problem as well as its harmful effects is the right prescription. Single handedly, one country alone cannot get things done satisfactorily. International cooperation is the best way.
The Chinese government is opposed to all forms of terrorism and maintains that its root cause should be eliminated. At the same time, China is strengthening its anti-terror international cooperation.
Last month, for example, Chinese troops were committed to a joint anti-terrorism exercise staged in Russia's Cheliyabingsk area, together with other member countries of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization.
Second, while paying attention to security in the military and political areas, China is particularly concerned with energy, climate and public-hygiene security, as well as economic, cultural, information and financial security.
As the second largest energy-consuming country and also the second largest energy- producing nation in the world, China is highly concerned about the issue of energy security.
Over the decades, China has supplied more than 90 percent of its energy, including coal, petroleum and natural gas, for its own use, 20 percentage points more than the average level of countries of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. China has put energy saving at the top of its agenda.
In 2006, energy consumed in producing a unit of GDP dropped by 50 per cent compared with 1990. The country also encourages the development of renewable energy such as wind power, solar and bio-energy. In 2006, renewable energy accounted for 7 percent of the country's total energy consumption.
At the same time, China plays an active role in international energy cooperation, based on the principle of "mutually-beneficial cooperation, pluralistic development and collective guarantees". The country has bilateral dialogue with the world's chief energy consuming countries such as the United States, Japan, India and the European Union. The country is also a full member of a number of multilateral energy cooperation bodies, including the International Energy Forum, the World Energy Council and the Asia-Pacific Partnership on Clean Development and Climate. It also has close ties with the International Energy Agency.
In April this year, the first China-Japan ministerial energy dialogue turned out to be a success, with both sides deciding to strengthen cooperation in energy saving, petroleum substitution and new energy forms. On May 21, China, the United States, Russia, Japan and France jointly convened a meeting on global nuclear-energy partnerships and cooperation.
Climate security is also important to China. In the general context of global warming, the country's climate has also changed dramatically. Over the last 100 years or so, for instance, the average annual temperature in the country has risen 0.5 to 0.7 C. The climate issue poses a new challenge to mankind and calls for cooperation between all members of the international community. The Chinese government holds that climate change is an issue of development as well as one of environment.
China sticks to the principle of "common but differentiated responsibilities" as described by the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change and appeals to the developed countries to fulfill the emission-reduction goals decreed by the Kyoto Protocol, provide aid to developing countries, and, after 2012, make commitments to further reduce emissions.
Not long ago, the EU decided to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 20 percent by 2020. The G8 summit also agreed to seriously consider the proposal that their emissions be cut by 50 percent by the year 2050 compared with 1990. China appreciates their efforts in this regard and hopes that the developed countries will fulfill their pledges.
China is actively implementing its international obligations although its per capita carbon dioxide discharge is not yet one-third that of the average level of developed countries. The Chinese government has also formulated a package of policy documents, decreeing that energy consumption used to produce a given amount of GDP be reduced by 20 percent by 2010, compared with 2005, and that the percentage of forest-covered land be raised to 20 percent.
Since the outbreak of bird flu in 2003, the issue of public health has been of great concern to the international community. The Chinese government has introduced an epidemic reporting system and reinforced cooperation with other countries in this field.
Third, China is actively involved in international security cooperation while paying attention to its homeland security.
As a permanent member of the United Nations Security Council, China always makes sure that the UN's authority is maintained and its role brought into full play. And the country also makes an effort to see that world peace and stability is safeguarded within the framework of the UN.
For example, China was actively involved in defusing the Korean Peninsula nuclear crisis, and is doing the same on Iran's nuclear bid. It supports the UN Security Council's resolutions 1695 and 1718 on the Korean Peninsula nuclear issue, as well as resolutions 1696, 1737 and 1747 on Iran's nuclear issue.
Thanks to China's efforts and also other relevant parties, the Six-Party Talks on the Korean Peninsula nuclear crisis has made significant progress. The talks have now entered the stage of "action to action".
China also plays an active role in UN peace-keeping missions. Since 1989 the country has participated in 17 peace-keeping operations, dispatching a total of 7,511 personnel. Among the five permanent members of the UN Security Council, China has contributed the biggest number of peace-keeping personnel.
In addition, China is strenuously pushing for regional security dialogue and cooperation. China, Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgystan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan set up the Shanghai Cooperation Organization in 2001, which provides a new model for regional security cooperation and ideas with regard to pushing regional dialogue and cooperation.
China is also involved in the "10 plus 1" dialogue between the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and China and the "10 plus 3" dialogue between ASEAN on the one hand and China, South Korea and Japan on the other. China initiated the convening of the ASEAN Regional Security Policy Conference, which helps to largely promote military exchanges and mutual trust between the members of grouping.
China also plays an active role in dialogue and cooperation within the frameworks of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation, the East Asia Summit and the Asia-Europe Meeting.
Now that peaceful development is an integral part of China's national policy, we advocate that an international security climate based on mutual trust and cooperation be created; mutual trust be promoted through dialogue; disputes be settled through consultation and negotiation; and stability be achieved through cooperation.
On this basis, various traditional and non-traditional security problems could be settled and worldwide challenges and threats could be effectively tackled.
The author is chairman of the China Institute for International Strategic Studies
(China Daily 09/18/2007 page10)