"The World and Japan" Database (Project Leader: TANAKA Akihiko)
Database of Japanese Politics and International Relations
National Graduate Institute for Policy Studies (GRIPS); Institute for Advanced Studies on Asia (IASA), The University of Tokyo

[Title] A Better Future through Security Cooperation -- Gen. Liang Guanglie at the 2011 Shangri-la Dialogue

[Place] Singapore
[Date] June 5, 2011
[Source] The International Institute for Strategic Studies
[Full text]

Thank you Dr Chipman,

Distinguished participants, ladies and gentlemen:

It is a great pleasure to be here in this beautiful country of Singapore. I would first convey my congratulations on the tenth anniversary of the Shangri-la Dialogue. Today in the presence of fellow defense leaders and academics in Asia Pacific and the world beyond, I would like to speak about China’s perspectives on international security cooperation.

Ladies and gentlemen,

The first decade of the 21st century is just behind us. During the past ten years, both multi- polarization and economic globalization have gained momentum. The trend of peace, development and cooperation was even more prominent. The prevailing human aspiration is peace, not war; dialogue, not confrontation; understanding, not estrangement.

At present, the security situation in Asia Pacific is generally stable as Asia leads in economic recovery. In line with economic globalization and regional integration, countries in Asia have been actively engaged in international cooperation and competition to promote economic growth and regional stability, which in turn has deepened economic integration in the region. And as such, a community awareness of shared interest and destiny is growing.

At the same time Asia Pacific is also faced with multiple security challenges, both traditional and non-traditional. Cold war mentality and power politics still find their place. Settlement of certain flashpoints remains unclear. Terrorism, proliferation of WMD, cross-border crimes are yet to be eliminated. Climate change, food security, energy security, public health and other global issues are emerging in a more pressing way. Since the beginning of this year, natural disasters including earthquake, tsunami, floods and hurricane have inflicted huge losses of lives and property upon Asia Pacific countries like Australia, New Zealand, China, Japan, Myanmar, and the US. Political turbulence or even armed conflicts took place in certain West Asian and North African countries, with their impact on regional economy and stability in Asia Pacific that we cannot afford to ignore. All these challenges show that global security issues are increasingly comprehensive, integrated and interconnected, which entails stronger cooperation and joint response.

In face of these new security opportunities and challenges, countries in Asia have upheld multilateralism and inclusive regionalism in working with countries from both within and outside Asia to build regional security cooperation architectures that are distinctively Asian. Major countries in the world have put more weights on the position and role of Asia in world configuration, allocating more attention and resources to the region. Regional multilateral security dialogues and cooperation mechanisms such as the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, ASEAN Regional Forum, and the Shangri-la Dialogue have played positive roles in building confidence and advancing cooperation. And broadly speaking, these mechanisms support and complement each other as they carry security cooperation forward.

Last October, I attended the first ADMM Plus meeting in Viet Nam initiated by ASEAN defense ministers. During the meeting, together with my colleagues from ASEAN and other plus countries, we explored ways to build mutual trust and maintain regional security and stability. ADMM Plus is the official cooperation mechanism of the senior most participation and widest representation in Asia Pacific region. The meeting highlighted practical cooperation in non-traditional security and identified 5 priority areas to start with. What’s more, the recent ASEAN Defense Senior Officials’ Meeting Plus has officially approved Expert Working Groups in the five identified areas. Practical cooperation is now ready to go.

I’m confident that as countries in this region work together, security cooperation in Asia Pacific will have a bright future.

Towards that end, countries within Asia Pacific should work together, and more importantly we should also work with countries from outside the region.

Ladies and gentlemen,

The aforementioned principles have never only been what China openly proposed and called for, rather, they are also what China nailed down in its policies and translated into its actions.

China unswervingly follows the path of peaceful development. The path of peaceful development is by no means an expedient but a strategic choice based on a range of factors: the general trend of social development of the mankind, China’s own conditions, its traditional values and its commitment to a harmonious world. The Chinese is a peace-loving nation. Cherishing peace has always been our tradition. The essence of China’s path of peaceful development is a desired peaceful international environment in which China could develop itself and reciprocally help maintain and promote world peace with its own development. This path is fundamentally different from the path of colonial expansion that some countries used to take historically. This is a path that link China with the rest of the world through their common interests. It is a path that ensures an enduring win-win result eventually shared by all nations.

China unswervingly adheres to a defense policy defensive in nature. To judge whether a country is a threat to world peace, the key is not to look at how strong its economy or military is, but the policy it pursues. Given the situational changes over the time, China’s defense policy has taken in new elements. Its defense force is obtaining new capabilities. But among all these changes, something remains unchanged, and it will never change, that is the rationality of self-restraint, the defensive nature of its defense policy, and its unfailing commitment to peaceful development. The past few years have seen a rapid socio-economic development in China and correspondingly, progress in its defense and military modernization. However, such progress is within the legitimate need of self-defense. It is reiterated in China’s latest defense white paper that “China adheres to a defense policy that is purely defensive in nature”, “whether at present or in the future, no matter how developed it may be, China will never seek hegemony or military expansion.” This is a solemn pledge made by the Chinese government to the international community as well as all people of Chinese origin around the world. It is a strategic choice made by the Chinese government based on its fundamental interest and the trend of times. It reflects the continuity and consistency of such a defensive nature.

China unswervingly adopts the policy of forging friendly and good-neighborly relations.

China is the largest country here in Asia, with a long list of neighbors situated next to or in vicinity of China. Whether there is stability and development in the neighborhood has a direct bearing on China. As the Chinese proverb goes, “relatives hope for good of relatives, so do neighbours too.” China hopes to see peace and stability in its neighborhood more than anyone else. We oppose any action that might lead to regional turbulence or compromise mutual trust between neighbors. China follows the policy of “forging friendship and partnership” with its neighbors. We are ready to make joint effort with other Asian countries in creating a regional environment of peace, stability, equality, collaboration, trust and mutual benefit by boosting political confidence, seeking common development and facilitating people-to-people exchanges. China has also been providing assistance as we can to support those underdeveloped neighbours, sincerely and no strings attached.

Ladies and gentlemen,

The relationship between China and the world has gone through historic changes and become one that binds the two tightly together in their respective peace and prosperity. In face of shared opportunities and challenges, China has tied its fundamental interest with world common interest, its security with world peace.

Maintaining world peace and advancing common development is an important mission for the Chinese military in this new era. China’s participation in world security cooperation is by no means enlargement in sphere of influence or even territorial expansion. Rather, it is for an enabling regional security environment, for interests to be shared with other nations, and for fulfillment of its due international responsibilities and humanitarian obligations.

China is committed to regional peace and stability through security cooperation. China has had border settlements with 12 land bordering countries through peaceful negotiations and consultations. China values confidence building measures in border areas and contacts between border troops. The PLA has more than 60 designated meeting establishments along China’s border and more than 1000 border meetings are held with our neighbours every year. China is an active participant in security cooperation under the SCO framework. Deepened counter-terrorism and security cooperation among SCO members have successfully deterred terrorist, extremist and separatist forces in Central Asia.

China actively promotes the Six Party Talks for handling the DPRK nuclear issue towards a denuclearized, peaceful and stable Korean Peninsula. At present, China is actively working with all parties concerned for an early resumption of the talks.

China is committed to maintaining peace and stability in South China Sea. In 2002, China and ASEAN countries signed Declaration on the Code of Conduct on South China Sea, which acknowledged the settlement of the territorial and jurisdictional disputes by peaceful means through friendly consultations and negotiations by sovereign states directly involved. Also in this declaration, it was reaffirmed that the freedom of navigation and overflight in South China Sea shall be respected according to universally recognized principles of international law. At present, the general situation in South China Sea remains stable. China has been actively keeping dialogues and consultations with ASEAN countries in implementing the Declaration. Channels of communication and negotiation between China and related countries are also unimpeded.

China is the first country that forges a strategic partnership for peace and prosperity with ASEAN; it is the first non-ASEAN country that accedes to Treaty of Amity and Cooperation in Southeast Asia; it is the first country to sign a free trade agreement with ASEAN, creating the largest ever free trade zone among developing countries; it is also the first nuclear weapon state that is ready to sign the Protocol to Treaty on the Southeast Asia Nuclear- Weapon-Free Zone.

China is committed to greater mutual trust and common interest through security cooperation. China has been following the five principles of peaceful coexistence in its military diplomacy as it works to deepen practical exchanges and cooperation for a security environment of mutual trust and mutual benefit. China signed a missile launch notification pact with Russia, set up Defense Telephone Link with US in addition to defense dialogues at different levels. As of now, China engages in defense dialogues with 22 countries and military-to-military engagement with over 150 nations. Every year nearly 400 visits are exchanged between Chinese military and its foreign counterparts. These defense exchanges have helped the international community to better understand China’s strategic intentions and its force development, which are useful for the prevention of misunderstanding, miscalculation, and also for crisis management.

In recent years, China has had 40 plus joint military trainings and exercises in the land, sea or air domains with more than 20 countries in fields of common interest such as counter- terrorism and disaster relief. We believe confidence is built in engagement, and capabilities are augmented in cooperation. At the same time, China also provides necessary assistance to some other militaries. Over the years, we have trained over 50,000 military personnel for over 130 countries. We also offer annual military assistance in kind to some developing countries with no political conditions imposed. Based on the actual and future needs of recipient countries, China has designated the vast majority of the assistance to infrastructure development such as construction of military academies and hospitals.

China pays great attention to the security of global commons such as space, sea and cyberspace. It is a sincere, active and constructive participant in related international cooperation. The Chinese government has long been advocating the peaceful use of outer space and opposing the weaponization and arms race in outer space. In February 2008, together with Russia, China submitted to UN Conference on Disarmament the draft of “Treaty on the Prevention of the Deployment of Weapons in Outer Space, and of the Threat or Use of Force against Outer Space Objects”. China calls for an early negotiation on the draft for a new treaty on outer space. China signed and ratified the UN Convention on the Law of Sea early and has been an active player in international maritime security cooperation ever since. The Chinese government attaches importance on cyber security and stands firmly against all kinds of cyber crimes. We believe that security cooperation in areas mentioned above should balance rights with responsibilities, capabilities with obligations. No double standard shall be adopted. Even less, shall it be politicized and thus utilized by any country to press another for its own good.

China is committed to its international obligations through security cooperation. China is the largest force provider for UN peacekeeping operations among permanent members of UN Security Council, with more than 20,000 men deployed in 20 UN Peacekeeping Operations. Unfortunately 9 of our men made their ultimate sacrifice in action. Since Dec2008, China has sent 8 task forces of 20 ships to the Gulf of Aden and waters off Somalia for escort missions. Among the 4000 vessels they have escorted, more than 40% are foreign vessels. China was once a recipient country after the 2008 Sichuan earthquake when assistance came from around the world, and for that, again, I would like to extend our deepest gratitude. Because China has been there, we could feel what others feel when they suffer from natural disasters. That is why the Chinese military has been actively engaged in humanitarian disaster relief operations overseas when it’s already heavily involved in domestic relief operations.

The PLA has assisted the Chinese government in providing relief materials to afflicted countries. It recently sent specialist teams to Indonesia, Haiti, Pakistan and Japan for disaster relief efforts. In 2010, the military hospital ship “Ark of Peace” visited Djibouti, Kenya, Tanzania, Seychelles, and Bangladesh and provided medical treatment to thousands of local people, both military and civilian. China has also been assisting international humanitarian minesweeping efforts by providing technical training or equipment to countries such as Afghanistan, Iraq, and Sudan. These efforts are not that extraordinary in themselves, but they are an embodiment of our sincerity and friendship. They’ve brought with them hope and helped to make the world a better place.

Ladies and gentlemen,

China adheres to the path of peaceful development. It is committed to common development and common security. The Chinese military’s outreach for international security cooperation is not intended to impair the current international system, but to become a player and builder of the system, providing additional public goods to the international community so that the benefit of security could be truly shared by all. The time and tides of the 21st century point to its new reading: military can also be a bond of cooperation, peace and prosperity.

Let us all work towards that end. Thank you!