top of page

China’s Global Security Initiative Concept Paper: A Review

China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs has published the concept paper on Global Security Initiative [GSI] on 21 February

The Paper comprises of a Background, Core concepts and principles, Priorities of cooperation and Platforms and mechanisms of cooperation. The principles covered in the concept are universal in nature while proposals are some what platitudinous. That these very mechanisms have failed to deliver is ignored.

What new does the GSI bring on the table remains to be seen. It may well become a vehicle for China led security initiatives in various parts of the World through mechanisms which are Beijing centric. Here is a brief overview-

Firstly the background covers the importance of security as a part of well being of all countries and for peace and development as well as the future of humanity.

This is important as the Paper notes risks are increasing in a form that was not seen before while hotspots, local conflicts and turbulence is occurring frequently.

Amidst COVID 19 pandemic it believes that “unilateralism and protectionism have risen significantly, and traditional and non-traditional security threats are entwined”. This is combined with the deficit in “peace, development, security and governance,” which poses unique challenges.

However the concept paper states that there is hope and with this purpose, Chinese President Xi Jinping has proposed the Global Security Initiative (GSI) which “aims to eliminate the root causes of international conflicts, improve global security governance, encourage joint international efforts to bring more stability and certainty to a volatile and changing era, and promote durable peace and development in the world”. 

Amongst the core concepts and principles is the necessity for commitment to a common, comprehensive, cooperative and sustainable security in both traditional and non-traditional domains and enhancing security governance in a coordinated way which is underpinned by, ”morality, justice and the right ideas”. 

Commitment to respecting the sovereignty and territorial integrity of all countries, equality and non-interference in internal affairs are the chosen principles an commitment to the UN Charter should be unrestrained.

Security is not seen as a zero sum game and reasonable security concerns of others should be taken care off with the “principle of indivisible security”.

Resolution of differences and disputes between countries should be through dialogue and consultation and not through war and sanctions. Towards this end a call has been made, “to strengthen strategic communication, enhance mutual security confidence, diffuse tensions, manage differences and eliminate the root causes of crises”.

The six commitments that have been underlined are “explore multiple channels, develop a holistic solution, and improve relevant rules, so as to find sustainable solutions, promote global security governance and prevent and resolve security challenges”.

In priorities of cooperation China is said to be ready “to conduct bilateral and multilateral security cooperation with all countries and international and regional organizations under the framework of the Global Security Initiative, and actively promote coordination of security concepts and convergence of interests”. To jointly promote world peace and tranquility the following is proposed:-

1.Actively participate in formulating a New Agenda for Peace and other proposals put forth in Our Common Agenda by the UN Secretary-General that is support the UN.

2.Promote coordination and sound interaction among major countries and build a major country relationship featuring peaceful coexistence, overall stability and balanced development.

3.Firmly uphold the consensus that “a nuclear war cannot be won and must never be fought”.

4.Fully implement the resolution of Promoting International Cooperation on Peaceful Uses in the Context of International Security adopted by the 76th session of the UN General Assembly.

5.Promote political settlement of international and regional hotspot issues.

6.Support and improve the ASEAN-centered regional security cooperation mechanism and architecture, and adhere to the ASEAN way of consensus-building and accommodating each other’s comfort level to further strengthen security dialogue and cooperation among regional countries.

7.Implement the five-point proposal on realizing peace and stability in the Middle East, including advocating mutual respect, upholding equity and justice, realizing non-proliferation, jointly fostering collective security, and accelerating development cooperation, so as to jointly establish a new security framework in the Middle East.

8.Support the efforts of African countries, the AU and sub-regional organizations to resolve regional conflicts, fight terrorism and safeguard maritime security, call on the international community to provide financial and technical support to Africa-led counter-terrorism operations, and support African countries in strengthening their ability to safeguard peace independently.

9.Support Latin American and Caribbean countries in actively fulfilling commitments stated in the Proclamation of Latin America and the Caribbean as a Zone of Peace, and support the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States and other regional and sub-regional organizations in playing an active role in upholding regional peace and security and properly handling regional hotspots. 

10.Pay high attention to the special situation and legitimate concerns of Pacific island countries

11.Strengthen maritime dialogue and exchange and practical cooperation, properly handle maritime differences, and work together to tackle transnational crimes at sea including piracy and armed robbery, so as to jointly safeguard maritime peace and tranquility and sea lane security. Call on upstream and downstream countries along trans-boundary rivers to actively engage in international cooperation, resolve relevant disputes through dialogue and consultation, ensure the safety of shipping on trans-boundary rivers, rationally utilize and protect water resources, and protect the ecological environment of trans-boundary rivers. 

12.Strengthen the UN’s role as the central coordinator in the global fight against terrorism, support the international community in fully implementing the UN General Assembly and Security Council counter-terrorism resolutions and the UN Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy, and jointly crack down on all terrorist organizations and individuals designated by the Security Council.

13.Deepen international cooperation in the field of information security.

14.Strengthen biosecurity risk management.

15.Strengthen international security governance on artificial intelligence (AI) and other emerging technologies, and prevent and manage potential security risks.

16.Strengthen international cooperation on outer space and safeguard the international order in outer space underpinned by international law.

17.Support the World Health Organization in playing a leading role in global governance in public health, and effectively coordinate and mobilize global resources to jointly respond to COVID-19 and other major global infectious diseases.

18.Safeguard global food and energy security.

19.Fully and effectively implement the UN Convention against Transnational Organized Crime.

20.Support the cooperation among countries in addressing climate change and maintaining stable and smooth supply and industrial chains, and speed up the implementation of the UN 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development in order to promote sustainable security through sustainable development.

In the platforms and mechanisms of cooperation are included wide-ranging discussions and communication on peace and security at the General Assembly, relevant UN Committees, the Security Council, relevant institutions, and other international and regional organizations based on their respective mandates.

Leveraging the roles of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, BRICS cooperation, the Conference on Interaction and Confidence Building Measures in Asia, the “China+Central Asia” mechanism and so on.

Hold high-level conferences on the GSI in due course to strengthen policy communication in the field of security, promote intergovernmental dialogue and cooperation, and further foster synergy in the international community to address security challenges.

Support the China-Africa Peace and Security Forum, the Middle East Security Forum, the Beijing Xiangshan Forum, the Global Public Security Cooperation Forum (Lianyungang) and other international dialogue platforms in contributing to deepening exchange and cooperation on security.

Build more international platforms and mechanisms for exchange and cooperation on addressing security challenges in such areas as counter-terrorism, cybersecurity, biosecurity and emerging technologies, with a view to improving the governance capacity in the domain of non-traditional security.

Concluding Remarks

Without a vision for transforming international security, merely repeating the same cliches may not work unless China is able to bring about dynamism in implementation through investment of political, diplomatic and security capital.

Thus the GSI proof will be in application and outcomes.

One important facet though is renewed commitment against the use of nuclear weapons which is tune with the China’s principles of No First Use [NFU].


bottom of page