One of the most noticeable and significant international phenomena at the beginning of this year was the surge in China’s political and diplomatic activity.
The Global Development Initiative proposed in September 2021 by Chinese President Xi Jinping from the high rostrum of the UN General Assembly brought the world’s attention to development issues and strengthened cooperation among developing countries amid ongoing global crises.
A few months later, in April 2022, Chinese President Xi Jinping, speaking at the opening of the Boao Forum for Asia, put forward the Global Security Initiative (GSI) in response to the growing conflicts and security challenges in the world.
This proposal of the Chinese leader laid the foundation for the Global Security Initiative Concept Paper officially adopted by the Chinese Foreign Ministry on Feb. 21, 2023.
Moreover, China has played a key role in restoring diplomatic relations between Saudi Arabia and Iran after many years of confrontation. The agreement signed on 10 March this year in Beijing was the result of four days of intensive negotiations between Saudi Arabia and Iran mediated by China.
A number of China’s global initiatives have been supplemented by the initiative of Chinese President Xi Jinping on global civilization, proposed on 15 March this year.
In this context, China’s position on the political settlement of the Ukrainian crisis has already gained widespread attention around the world. Shortly before that, the world press showed great interest in the visit of Director of the Office of the CPC Central Commission for Foreign Affairs Wang Yi to Europe, during which he participated in and spoke at the Munich Security Conference and met on the sidelines with US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken, Head of European Diplomacy Josep Borrell, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine Dmytro Kuleba. In Moscow, he was received by Russian President Vladimir Putin and held talks with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov.
Of course, the China’s global strategic initiative on security stands apart from these events and developments. This document reflects the approaches of the Chinese leadership to the most pressing problems of peace and security. The Global Security Initiative, proposed by Chinese President Xi Jinping, aims to eliminate the deep-rooted causes of international conflicts, improve the global security management system and promote long-term peace and global socio-economic development.
Moreover, the global strategic initiative reflects the serious interest of the Chinese leadership in preserving and strengthening the atmosphere of peace and security, which helps to achieve the best conditions for the internal development of China and cooperation with the outside world, both in the immediate Asian and Eurasian environment and globally, in particular, in the implementation of such significant international development projects as the One Belt, One Road or the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (CEP). Even the first, superficial glance at the Chinese document shows the similarity and sometimes the identity of the main provisions of the GSI with the goals and objectives reflected in the Charter of the United Nations. As you know, the UN Charter is essentially an international treaty that establishes a common framework for cooperation among Member States, while the Global Security Initiative Concept Paper is an initiative, a set of proposals for solving modern global security issues.
Both the UN Charter and the Global Security Initiative Concept Paper recognize the importance of strengthening international peace and security, which is all the more important in the conditions of blazing conflicts and strained knots of disagreements and confrontations. In particular, the document establishes the principles of sovereign equality and international cooperation, especially in solving security problems. The most important point is the need to maintain the sovereign rights of states in the context of increased international exchanges, trade and cooperation, as well as to continue peaceful dialogue and coexistence. The global strategic initiative prioritizes the recognition of the equality of states and their national sovereignty, which is based on the UN Charter and respect for the role of the United Nations, as reflected in section II “Core concepts and principles”. In particular, it welcomes the maintenance of international peace, security and justice, the resolution of conflicts through diplomacy and negotiations, as well as the settlement of disputes in accordance with Article 2 of the UN Charter. Moreover, the GSI, as well as the UN Charter, calls on the international community to work together to solve global problems such as poverty, inequality, environmental issues, as well as to prevent conflicts and wars, especially nuclear war, based on the principles of equality, cooperation and the rule of law, taking appropriate measures to eliminate the corresponding circumstances, as specified in Articles 39-42 of the UN Charter, while maintaining respect for all cultures, religions, countries and ethnic groups, without associating them with terrorist actions.
Very important in this context is the statement contained in the text of the global strategic initiative that, along with a number of other international institutions, the Conference on Interaction and Confidence Building Measures in Asia (CICA) is one of the platforms for achieving the goals of the global strategic initiative designed to address security issues in Asia. In this regard, several important points should be clarified that characterize both the Conference itself and the interaction of CICA Member States in the military-political dimension. Today it is a pan-Asian forum that facilitates cooperation and dialogue on various security issues with a view to promoting stable and peaceful coexistence and prosperity among peoples.
As will be recalled, the initiative to create a mechanism for partnership and cooperation in Asia that the Kazakh leadership put forward more than thirty years ago has stood the test of time, as confirmed by the outcomes of the Sixth CICA Summit held in Astana last October, where the leaders of the Member States firmly declared the need to transform the Conference into a full-fledged international organization, adopting a corresponding action programme in this direction. In fact, CICA already is one, with 28 Member States representing more than half the population and more than a third of the gross output of the planet, nine Observer States, a number of international institutions and organizations as observers and partners, having the necessary legal framework for full interaction in all its five dimensions: military-political, economic, environmental, human and new challenges and threats.
In the military-political dimension coordinated by Kazakhstan and co-coordinated by Türkiye, the Member States agreed to include ten measures in the cornerstone document of the CICA system, the Catalogue of Confidence Building Measures, which reflects the collective views of the Member States, and for a number of reasons decided to implement them at first on a step-by-step and voluntary basis. Four of these ten measures entered the implementation phase in accordance with the decision of the CICA Senior Officials Committee of 28 June 2013. In order to achieve effective results of military-political cooperation among CICA Member States, Kazakhstan has taken the initiative to hold a relevant annual international seminar.
Thus, the Member States may exchange information on the components of their armed forces, defence budgets, foreign military troops in their territories, and planned military activities. They are also able to invite observers to military exercises and create mechanisms for consultation on unexpected and dangerous military incidents. Furthermore, they share information about their accession to multilateral arms control, disarmament documents and conventions on outer space. Currently, four confidence building measures have been accepted for implementation on a voluntary basis. In this regard, the CICA Member States have chosen an evolutionary approach that involves enhancing interaction based on the “simple-to-complex” principle.
When it comes to weapons of mass destruction, many CICA Member States have taken steps to improve nuclear safety and have commitments under various international nuclear safety agreements.
Countries such as Bahrain, Bangladesh, Cambodia, China, Egypt, India, Israel, Jordan, Korea, Pakistan, Palestine, Russia, Thailand, Türkiye, UAE and Viet Nam have signed the Convention on Nuclear Safety, while Kazakhstan have ratified it. Most CICA Member States are signatories to the Global Initiative to Combat Nuclear Terrorism.
Most Member States have ratified or signed the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons, while Thailand is holding consultations. As for the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty, it has been ratified by all countries except China, Egypt, Iran and Israel.
China and India are also members of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and have signed various international treaties related to nuclear safety, while China has also signed the Joint Convention on the Safety of Spent Fuel Management and on the Safety of Radioactive Waste Management. Kazakhstan has ratified the Joint Convention on the Safety of Spent Fuel Management and on the Safety of Radioactive Waste Management. Russia is an IAEA member and has signed various international treaties related to nuclear safety, including the Joint Convention on the Safety of Spent Fuel Management and on the Safety of Radioactive Waste Management.
It is important to emphasize that nuclear safety is a global issue, and all states with nuclear programmes are to take steps to secure their nuclear facilities and materials. Concerning chemical and biological weapons, several Member States are in the process of consulting on the Convention on the Prohibition of the Development, Production, Stockpiling and Use of Chemical Weapons and on their Destruction, with Israel being a signatory, while Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan have ratified it. Moreover, most CICA Member States have ratified or signed the Convention on the Prohibition of the Development, Production and Stockpiling of Biological and Toxin Weapons, while India, Thailand and Viet Nam are in the consultation phase.
The ongoing transformation of CICA cannot but affect all areas of interaction and multilateral approaches to cooperation to ensure long-term stability on the Asian continent, including the military-political dimension in the long run. CICA’s research body, the Think Tank Forum (TTF), has an important role to play in the theoretical justification and development of practical steps in this direction.
In this sense, an in-depth analysis of the strategic security initiative will certainly provide much food for thought for TTF researchers and analysts.
[Photo by official website of CICA]
The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author.
Ambassador Doulat Kuanyshev is an Expert in the Military-Political Dimension of CICA. He has experience as the Ambassador of the Republic of Kazakhstan to seven countries, including three CICA Member States (India, Israel, Sri Lanka), and Permanent Representative to various international organizations.