Opinion / Op-Ed Contributors

New approach for Asian security

By Liu Zhenmin (China Daily) Updated: 2014-06-12 07:26

Common, comprehensive, cooperative and sustainable concepts meet challenges ranging from historical issues to cross-border crimes

Recently, the discourse about Asian security has been permeated with a somewhat gloomy outlook. Some people have expressed concerns about the growing dichotomy between heated economic exchanges and cooling political ties. Others worry about the "trust deficit" in the region.

I came away from the recent series of East Asia Senior Officials' Meetings with ASEAN colleagues more optimistic about the future of our region.

Asia has enjoyed peace and stability in the past twenty years after the end of the Cold War, which has enabled Asian countries to create one economic miracle after another, making our region the strongest driver of global growth, and fueling economic integration in our region.

Globally, major countries have maintained generally stable relations. The China-Russia comprehensive strategic partnership of coordination has become a good example for relations between big countries. China and the United States are working to build a new type of major-country relationship, with particular emphasis on greater cooperation in the Asia-Pacific.

Regional multilateral cooperation frameworks with ASEAN in the driver's seat have played an important role for greater mutual trust and better interaction among countries in the region. No one should discount the positive mainstream of Asia today.

In the meantime, Asia is facing growing challenges, ranging from historical legacies to disputes over territory and maritime rights, to non-traditional security threats such as natural disasters and cross-border crimes.

The missing Malaysian Airliner MH370 and the sunken ferry in the Republic of Korea, the Prism scandal last year, and the attack in Karachi Airport, these are but the most recent examples of how non-traditional security challenges are directly impacting the lives of ordinary people.

The traditional security landscape in our region is also beset with challenges. Outdated security concepts die hard. In the age of globalization, certain countries are still clinging to the old security concepts based on military alliances and power politics.

The US' "rebalancing" to Asia, which is based on strengthening of bilateral military alliances, has been accompanied by a restirring of historical problems and the creation of new frictions in the region.

Military alliances focus on security for countries within the alliances, often at the cost of the interests of outside countries, thereby potentially leading to greater division. It is safe to say that there will be no winners in a divided Asia, only losers, and countries in the region will bear the brunt. We, Asian developing countries, should not allow our region to go in this direction.

Another problem with military alliances is that they often draw a line between allies and non-allies when problems occur, without due regard to the merits of the matter. Support will be given to whatever the ally does, regardless of whether it is right or wrong. Naturally, some members of the alliance cannot resist taking adventurous actions with the backing of a strong ally, particularly on maritime issues.

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