In the 21st Century, the World is witnessing cataclysmic global transitions in the shape of the rise of China as a superpower, power transferring from the West to the East, unipolarity to multipolarity, liberal to realist global order, and geopolitics to geo-economics. In this milieu, the rise of China is being contested by the sole superpower – the US. China is in the process of asserting itself on the global scene and challenging the US hegemony. The first and foremost dimension of global leadership rests in ensuring global security. Global Security Initiative is a step in the right direction and its counterparts i.e. Global Development Initiative (GDI) and Global Civilization Initiative (DCI) make it a promising and comprehensive concept. This article is intended to focus on GSI. The history of China reveals that the country has had periods of development and pre-eminence. China’s history spans over 32 centuries i.e., from 1200 BC206 to 2020 AD. Being one of the oldest civilizations, China is also considered the Cradle of Civilizations. Historically, one prolonged era of pre-eminence has been from 200 BC to 1400 AD. Particularly, there has been stunning development in “China’s Golden Age (600-1600 AD)”, comprising commercial and urban developments that have been exploited by the Ming voyages. Once we study the culture of China, there appear certain glaring words like harmony, peace, benevolence, love, and co-existence. These words signify a generous strategic thought. China has maintained a peaceful culture rooted in Confucianism based on harmony and abhorrence of war. To understand the GSI, it is important to first understand the strategic thought/ culture of China because it forms the bedrock for all such initiatives. The speed of growth of China has surprised the World. The rise of China was predicted by Napoleon two centuries ago, but no one anticipated it to be so sudden and so fast. Napoleon warned, “Let China sleep; when she wakes, she will shake the world.” Graham Allison says that today China has awakened, and the world is beginning to shake. Since joining of WTO in 2000, China’s economic growth has been amazing due to increased participation in international trade. The US trade deficit with China has increased by 412% from US $ – 83.8 B in 2000 to US $ -345.2 B in 2019. Similarly, the EU’s trade deficit has increased by 353%, from € -55.3 B in 2002 to € -195.5 B in 2019. Owing to market-oriented reforms and the opening up of the economy in 1978, China’s economic development has been miraculous. Backed by nearly 10% growth per year, China’s GDP has grown from US $ 149.5 B in 1978 to US $ 13.6 Trillion by 2018. GDP per capita has risen by 25.3-fold; from US $ 307 in 1978 to US $ 7,755 in 2018, lifting 850 million people out of poverty and making China an upper middle-income country. The World Bank describes it as “the fastest sustained expansion by a major economy in history”. The 2500-year-old Chinese culture is known for its philosophy of a middle course, loving peace, seeking a calm life, respecting nature, pursuing harmony, avoiding extremes and not engaging in ethnic struggles and religious wars. China’s strategic thought contrasts with that of the Western World. The Chinese order has been benevolent and humane which stands in contrast to the “malevolent, ruthless power politics in the West”. Li Xiguang argues that “BRI would encourage the integration of civilizations based on a peaceful coexistence, tolerance, and win-win cooperation, which will be way different than Columbus’ discovery of New World, involving a clash of civilizations characterized by cultural cleansing and cultural genocide”. Tao guang yang hui (keep a low profile so as not to attract attraction) and mulin youhao zhengce (good neighborhood) show the glaring wisdom of Chinese philosophy. President Xi Jinping presented the New Asian Security Concept (NASC), in mid-May 2014, at the Shanghai Summit Conference on Interaction and Confidence-Building Measures in Asia (CICA). It is an updated version of the NSC of the mid-1990s. The NASC is defined as “common, comprehensive, cooperative and sustainable” security for Asia and incorporates the NSC, which is based on “mutual trust, mutual benefit, equality, and coordination”. Like the Monroe Doctrine, President Xi has declared that “it is for the people of Asia to run the affairs of Asia, solve the problems of Asia, and uphold the security of Asia”. Emphasis on development is another important feature of the NASC, which is termed “the greatest security and the master key to regional security issues. President Xi said in his speech, “We need to innovate our security concept, establish a new regional security cooperation architecture, and jointly build a road for the security of Asia that is shared by and win-win to all”. He further said, “Common security means respecting and ensuring the security of every country, with our interests and security so closely intertwined, we will swim or sink together, and we are increasingly becoming a community of common destiny”. He laid a lot of emphasis on security through development. He said, “to build an Asian security mansion … we need to focus on development, actively improve people’s lives and narrow down the wealth gap to cement the foundation of security. We need to advance the process of common development and regional integration, foster sound interactions and synchronized progress of regional economic cooperation and security cooperation and promote sustainable security through sustainable development. President Xi laid out important postulates of this concept. Security should be universal – applicable to all. Security must be equal without any sort of domination of any country. Security must be inclusive with due cognizance of the concerns of all parties. A military alliance targeted at a third party is not conducive to maintaining common security. Security must be comprehensive, duly catering to traditional as well as non-traditional fields. Security should be dynamic in both scope and implication. Security should be multi-pronged based on a holistic and coordinated approach. He further says, “We should have zero tolerance for terrorism, separatism, and extremism, strengthen international and regional cooperation, and step up the fight against the three forces, to bring a life of happiness and tranquillity to the people of this region”. The above discourse gives a clear idea about the strategic thought/ culture of China that is driving such initiatives. On 21 April 2022, President Xi Jinping unveiled the Global Security Initiative (GSI) during his virtual keynote speech at the opening ceremony of the Boao Forum. The GSI draws heavily from China’s New Asian Security Concept. The GSI introduces a new element to that by emphasizing the importance of addressing the legitimate security concerns of all nations. This element is inspired by the concept of “indivisible security,” which was first used in the Cold War-era Helsinki Final Act and the Charter of Paris for New Europe. Core concepts and principles are:
  • Stay committed to the vision of common, comprehensive, cooperative, and sustainable security.
  • Stay committed to respecting the sovereignty and territorial integrity of all countries.
  • Stay committed to abiding by the purposes and principles of the UN Charter
  • Stay committed to taking the legitimate security concerns of all countries seriously.
  • Stay committed to peacefully resolving differences and disputes between countries through dialogue and consultation.
  • Stay committed to maintaining security in both traditional and non-traditional domains.
The Western World dominated the globe due to ascendency in technology, economy, and information dominance. While China is competing with the West in the first two domains, it is lagging in information domination. China is proposing to set up a media house of the stature of Al jazeera and RT in Pakistan as part of CPEC. Secondly, China should play an active role in mitigating conflicts in South Asia as the region is linked to future ambitions of China. South Asia also happens to be the least integrated, the most impoverished, and conflict-prone region of the World and China can play an effective role in this region. Long live Pakistan-China Friendship. Author: Major General ® Dr Muhammad Samrez Salik was commissioned by the Pakistan Military Academy (PMA) with the President’s Gold Medal in March 1985. He graduated from Command and Staff College Quetta in 1995 and National Defence University (NDU) in 2005. On completion of 34 years long meritorious service, he retired in October 2019. During military service, he served on command, staff, and instructional appointments mainly, command of a regiment on the Line of Control, of a brigade in North Waziristan/ Peshawar and an Infantry Division in Balochistan, Assistant Private Secretary to Gen Pervez Musharraf, Chief of Staff of Lahore Corps and Vice Chief of General Staff at GHQ. His instructional appointments comprised PMA and NDU. He has a flair for intellectual and research pursuits. As Director General Institute of Strategic Studies Research and Analysis (ISSRA: A think tank of NDU) made invaluable contributions. Owing to his rich experience of the War on Terror, he authored a book titled, FIGHTING SHADOWS (Post-War on Terror: Pakistan). He had many opportunities to visit China from 2005 to 2019. As Vice Chief of General Staff, he was instrumental in the trials and induction of Z-10 Combat Helicopters. Based on his experience of serving in areas of CPEC, he did a PhD in Strategic Security Management of CPEC from NDU.    

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