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2014-05-22
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Xi defines new Asian security vision at CICA

Global Times (2014-05-22 P02)
By Zhang Yu in Shanghai

Chinese President Xi Jinping Wednesday advocated a new security vision for Asia, which stressed the role played by Asians themselves in building security, viewed as a rejection of interference from outside the region.

Xi raised the vision in a keynote speech at the fourth summit meeting of the Conference on Interaction and Confidence Building Measures in Asia (CICA) in Shanghai.

The summit is widely regarded as a multilateral platform for China to play a more active role in the wider Asian community, as CICA involves almost all the major players in Asia. China took over the CICA presidency from Turkey for 2014 to 2016.

The president said one cannot live in the 21st century with "outdated thinking," referring to holding onto a Cold War mentality and advocating a zero-sum game.

"We believe that it is necessary to advocate common, comprehensive, cooperative and sustainable security in Asia," Xi said.

Su Hao, director of the Asia-Pacific Research Center at China Foreign Affairs University, said that Asia is in desperate need of a new security vision, as it still lacks a security mechanism that fits the countries in the region.

"Asian countries have mainly used traditional means to uphold national security, such as strengthening defense or forming bilateral alliances," said Shen Dingli, a deputy dean of the Institute of International Studies at Fudan University in Shanghai.

"This will ultimately lead to security dilemmas in international security, because in this way better security of one country will mean weakened security of another," Shen said.

Stressing that security must be universal, Xi slammed some practices of seeking security.

"We cannot just have the security of one or some countries, leaving the rest insecure. And no country should seek the so-called absolute security of itself at the expense of the security of other countries," the president said.

"No country should attempt to monopolize regional affairs or infringe upon the legitimate rights and interests of other countries," Xi added.

He also noted that beefing up a military alliance targeted at a third party is not conducive to maintaining a common regional security.

Although the president did not mention a specific country, analysts believe the remarks were alluding to the US.

According to Shen, after the decolonization of Asia, big powers left behind many unsolved sovereign disputes, and foreign powers still take advantage of this competition and conflicts.

"Certain non-Asian powers, through forming alliances and cliques with some Asian countries, have constantly interfered in the balance and cooperation of Asia," he said.

Su interpreted the president's remarks as an attempt to build a new security order in Asia which seeks to minimize US influence.

"After all, security in Asia should be maintained by Asians themselves," Xi told the summit meeting.

It was a rejection of intervention by forces from outside the region, Su said, noting it reflected Beijing's vigilance toward Washington's recent moves in the region.

US President Barack Obama last month visited four Asian nations, including Japan, in a bid to reassure allies that the US is serious in its rebalance to Asia.

Translating the vision into reality will not be so easy.

Zhao Gancheng, director of the Center for Asia-Pacific Studies at the Shanghai Institutes for International Studies said he does not believe that China is trying to exclude the US, but even so, this would not be possible, due to the large US military presence across parts of Asia.

From the Western Pacific to the Middle East, the US has many military bases in the region and some parties to CICA are also US allies.

"The resistance exists," said Su, adding that Washington, which is concerned that it might be excluded from the region, has been strengthening its presence in a high profile manner.

"Some other Asian countries, who keep close security cooperation with the US, are not likely to accept China's advocacy. For them, Washington's presence in the region serves as a counterbalance to China," he said.

In his speech, President Xi proposed making CICA a platform for security dialogue and cooperation that covers the whole of Asia and exploring the establishment of a new regional security cooperation architecture.

"China believes that it is advisable to increase the frequency of CICA foreign minister meetings and even summits," he said, while also proposing the establishment of a defense consultation mechanism.

Currently, CICA is not an international organization, and the leaders meet every four years.

Xi highlighted development, which he said is the key to all the security problems for the majority of Asian countries, and called for the early launch of an Asian infrastructure investment bank.

The summit meeting, which ended Wednesday, drew dignitaries from 47 countries or international organizations. CICA has 26 members and 11 observers.

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