Opinion / Op-Ed Contributors

Chopsticks together hard to break

By Liu Zhenmin (China Daily) Updated: 2013-12-05 07:12

China is a contributor to Asian stability and seeks cooperation with neighbors to build a new regional security architecture

Asia is best known around the world for its contribution to global economic growth. Yet for some time, security concerns seem to have clouded people's thinking about Asia.

So how should we view security in Asia? Is Asia secure?

To be fair, Asia has maintained peace and stability for decades. This has laid the foundation for economic development and improved relations among Asian countries.

Today, intraregional trade and investment, financial cooperation, negotiations on free trade agreements, and connectivity projects are thriving. Economic integration is deepening and cooperation is the main trend in Asia today.

But Asia is also faced with myriad security challenges, from the legacies of the past to non-traditional security challenges, such as natural disasters, transnational crimes, and cyber security. In addition, the trust deficit remains large.

China put forward a concept of a New Approach to Security in the 1990s. It rejected old security patterns, such as the zero-sum game, military hegemony and power politics, and advocates a 3C security approach, namely comprehensive security, cooperative security and common security.

Comprehensive security recognizes the multifaceted and interconnected nature of security, which includes not just military security, but also economic, financial and food security.

Cooperative security calls for cooperation and participation by all relevant parties for the solution to complex security challenges. As Premier Li Keqiang said at the East Asia Summit in October, one cannot break chopsticks if you bundle many of them together. His message is that every country has a responsibility for regional security.

Common security means no country should seek absolute security for itself or its own security at the cost of others. They should consider the security of others while seeking their own security.

Regional economic integration provides the foundation for Asian security. Development and security are mutually reinforcing. We cannot achieve one without the other. For many countries, development is also the biggest security interest.

Good relations among major countries are a crucial factor for Asian security, and they should work together to tackle global challenges. Regional mechanisms, such as the Asia Regional Forum, the Association of Southeast Asian Nations Defence Ministers Meeting-Plus and the East Asia Summit, should play a bigger role in non-traditional security cooperation.

As a long-term objective, we should foster a new security architecture. There is a growing awareness that security cooperation in our region has lagged far behind economic cooperation, and that a regional security architecture that caters to the needs and interests of Asian countries should be established.

Many useful ideas have been put forward by various parties, we believe this architecture should be based on a new security approach and follow principles such as consensus, non-interference and accommodating the comfort level of all parties, and we should start with functional cooperation to accumulate mutual understanding and trust.

What role will China play in Asian security?

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