Opinion >

China's vision for regional order unveiled at Shangri-La Dialogue

Source: CGTN | 2022-06-13
China's vision for regional order unveiled at Shangri-La Dialogue

Chinese State Councilor and Minister of National Defense Wei Fenghe delivers a speech at the Shangri-La Dialogue in Singapore, June 12, 2022. [Photo/Xinhua]

By Yuan Sha

During the speech at 19th Shangri-La Dialogue in Singapore, China's State Councilor and Minister of National Defense Wei Fenghe elaborated on China's vision for regional order. This is the second time General Wei attended the Shangri-La Dialogue as China's Defense Minister, at a time when the international security situation is getting more volatile and a common regional solution is more urgently needed.

What is China's vision for regional order?

General Wei affirmed that the main theme of world remains peace and development. Thus, as the world is facing multiple crises rarely seen in human history, it is imperative to uphold and practice multilateralism toward the common goal of fostering a community of shared future for mankind.

He then reiterated China's rock-solid commitment to peaceful development, and China's pursuit of a defense policy that is defensive in nature. He also laid the vision for lasting peace and general security for the region toward the goal of fostering a "community of shared future for Asia-Pacific."

This vision is in line with the Global Security Initiative proposed by Chinese President Xi Jinping at the Boao Forum for Asia this April, which features a vision of common, comprehensive, cooperative and sustainable security, respecting the sovereignty and territorial integrity of all countries, and adhering to non-interference in internal affairs. The initiative offers Chinese solutions and wisdom for solving security challenges facing Asia and the world at large.

How China's vision differs from U.S. Indo-Pacific strategy?

The Chinese vision for regional order values inclusiveness and peace, which is starkly different from the exclusive and confrontational Indo-Pacific strategy elaborated by U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin at the Shangri-La Dialogue.

The "long peace in Asia" after the end of the Cold War serves as a prime case study for international relations. It is not by accident, but hard-earned by the peace-loving Asian people who have withstood the brutality of colonialism by Western powers and the aggression by the Japanese during the World War II. The peace clearly paid dividends for people across the region and lifted billions out of absolute poverty toward a better life.

However, as the region has transformed into an economic powerhouse, it caught the attention of greedy outside powers. Over the years, the U.S. has been bent on a hegemonic mission to reshape regional "disorder" in Asia.

The Indo-Pacific strategy further destabilizes the region with increased U.S. military presence and military alliances. From the AUKUS military pact and upgrade QUAD regime, the U.S. is trying to divide the region into confrontational blocs, raising alarms of a renewed Cold War and a NATO for Asia in the region.

How to apply the vision to the Asia-Pacific?

General Wei further detailed on China's stances on four hot topics as a way to apply the Chinese vision to the real-world scenarios.

First on Taiwan region, he reiterated China's commitment to peaceful reunification, and drew a red-line over Taiwan question. Washington's latest approval of another round of weapons sales worth $120 million to Taiwan, the fourth by the Joe Biden administration, is a blatant provocation and gross violation of the three China-U.S. joint communiqués which laid the foundation of the bilateral diplomatic relations.

His remarks are a clear and strong signal to Taiwan secessionists and outside interventionists, with the aim to deter and prevent escalation across the Taiwan Straits.

Second, on South China Sea, he laid the Chinese vision toward a "sea of peace, friendship and cooperation." Viewing the repeated attempts by the U.S. to prevent negotiations among claimant countries and the recent dangerous maneuvers of the U.S., Australian and Canadian provocations there, he called on regional countries, including the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, to solve territorial disputes through friendly consultations and oppose outside forces' meddling to turn the South China Sea into troubled waters.

Third, on China-U.S. relations, he cautioned the use of the term "competition" to define the bilateral relations, and pledged that China would defend its national interests, and urged for enhancement of mil-to-mil strategic trust, manage risks and prevent conflicts.

General Wei also made this clear at a meeting with Lloyd Austin on the sidelines of the Shangri-la Dialogue, where he sternly rejected the U.S. attempt to contain China. Austin also echoed the importance of improving crisis communications and reducing strategic risks.

Last but not least, on the Ukraine crisis, he affirmed China's position to uphold the UN Charter to respect the sovereignty and territorial integrity of all countries, as well as China's effort in promoting peace talks in this endeavor. He also called for respecting legitimate security concerns of all parties, and opposing maximum pressure and sanctions which are exacerbating the conflicts.

Yuan Sha is an assistant research fellow in the Department of American Studies at the China Institute of International Studies. A former Fulbright scholar at Columbia University, she has a PhD in international politics from China Foreign Affairs University. Yuan has published several papers on China-U.S. security relations in Chinese academic journals and regularly contributes to Chinese media outlets.