China forms coalition to counter America’s ‘barbaric and bloody’ leadership
Beijing could not have expressed its displeasure with Joe Biden more clearly. As the US president met with leaders of the Quad security group in Tokyo, Chinese and Russian nuclear bombers flew over the Sea of Japan.
But China is also employing less crude tactics to counter the United States in the form of a diplomatic campaign. Just as Biden began his trip to Asia, Beijing began promoting its Global Security Initiative (GSI), a proposal for an alternative security order.
Launched by President Xi Jinping in April, the initiative is a set of political principles such as non-interference and holding grudges against US “hegemonism”.
Now Beijing is trying to lure other countries on board. In a video address to the foreign ministers of the BRICS grouping of major emerging economies on May 19, the Chinese president spoke of the countless virtues of the GSI.
Xi urged fellow BRICS members Brazil, Russia, India and South Africa to “enhance political mutual trust and security cooperation”. . . reconcile each other’s core interests and major concerns, respect each other’s sovereignty, security and development interests, oppose hegemonism and power politics, reject the Cold War mentality and confrontation of blocks and work together to build a global community of safety for all”.
Over the next few days, Wang Yi, China’s foreign minister, extracted statements of support for the GSI from Uruguay, Nicaragua, Cuba and Pakistan. Indonesia and Syria have also endorsed it.
The move is part of Beijing’s increasingly frantic efforts to oppose US-led blocs, which it blames for global conflict and tension.
Tian Wenlin, a professor of international relations at Renmin University in Beijing, called the Western-led world order “barbaric and bloody” and accused the United States of dragging other nations into wars.
“Countries . . . are urgently calling for a new global security paradigm based on equality and mutual trust in the face of rapid changes in the international landscape,” he wrote in a recent article. ‘Global Security Initiative was designed to protect the security interests of a wider range of people around the world.’
Beijing’s emphasis on security marks a break with its traditional approach to international relations.
“Previously, when Chinese officials talked about how conflicts and security issues around the world would be resolved, the first step was development. The answer was to bring prosperity to these troubled regions. But now there is a new prioritization,” said Bates Gill, professor of Asia-Pacific security studies at Macquarie University.
This greater role played by security is evident in the Pacific, where China is rapidly expanding its influence at the expense of Western powers that have dominated the region.
On a tour of eight Pacific island countries over the coming week, Wang is proposing a cooperation agreement covering everything from customs to fisheries. But the first of eight articles in the draft agreement focuses on security, including joint law enforcement and cybersecurity.
Ms. Taylor Fravel, director of the security studies program at MIT, said the move was part of China’s attempts to delegitimize the global role of the United States.
“I think they would mainly focus on states in the developing world,” he said. “This is clearly a huge priority for China, especially in light of its alienation from most of Europe.”
Chinese diplomats have promoted the GSI in developing countries, including India, the Philippines, Uganda, Somalia and Kenya, through articles in local media and on the websites of its embassies.
Security experts said GSI’s planning predated the war in Ukraine. “This is the next step in Xi’s effort to shift the global security order away from Cold War thinking, which he has been doing since 2014,” said a Chinese academic who advises the government.
But the invasion of Russia made this enterprise both more urgent and more difficult. “Since the start of the war in Ukraine, China has gone to great lengths to defend Russia’s ‘legitimate security interests’,” said Paul Haenle, director of the Carnegie-Tsinghua Center in Beijing. “The Global Security Initiative, similarly, borrows from Russian concepts of ‘indivisible security’.”
The initiative also aims to counter the fallout from China’s support for Russia. “GSI is also a fix for China’s response in Ukraine, which has left states questioning China’s commitment to multilateralism and the international order,” said Courtney Fung, associate professor at the University. Macquarie.
Analysts believed Beijing could eventually institutionalize the program, as it did with its Belt and Road Initiative. But it could take years. The BRI was announced in 2013, but many countries only joined in 2016.
“They want to consolidate a big ‘third camp’ of countries that don’t want to take sides in what they see as a polarized world,” said Yun Sun, director of the China program at the Stimson Center think tank.
“But it will be impossible to implement such a broad and vaguely defined strategy on a global scale.”
Additional reporting by Maiqi Ding in Beijing