Date:

Share:

China’s New Strategy: Global Security Initiative

Similar Posts

This post is also available in: Türkçe Русский

The declaration of the end of the Cold War as a result of the summit held in Malta on 2-3 December 1989 between Former President of the United States of America (USA) George Bush and Soviet General Secretary Mikhail Gorbachev (USSR) actually triggered the beginning of a new era rather than an end.

After the Second World War, the United States, which had won the war militarily, politically, and technologically, began to write the rules of the global system as the world’s final hegemon state, gaining ideological hegemony after the Cold War. The new Atlantic Order, which was established in Europe and the United States, has achieved superiority over Asia in ideological, military, technical, cultural, and economic fields, and has followed a policy of resource control to preserve its hegemony in various geographies of the world. While making comments on the state that brought the end of history for the USA, which entered the period of absolute power, the thesis that this process would bring anarchy and instability was also emphasized.

Every rising power will eventually reach saturation and enter a phase of decline. As a matter of fact, the hegemony of the USA has opened the door to new difficulties.  In particular, the military interventions carried out by the USA created debates in the world public opinion, brought an economic burden and were interpreted by many academics as the beginning of the collapse. Because the increasing anti-US thought in conflict regions has relatively reduced America’s position in the global balance.

After the 2000s, the world tried to move from the unipolar order of the USA to a multipolar structure. In this new era, in which the USA is the leading actor, it has become possible to talk about an international relations order in which different powers appear in the world arena and various alliances have been established. Reasons such as Russia’s comeback under Vladimir Putin’s leadership, and China’s transformation into an economic power as a consequence of the economic and cultural reforms implemented since 1980 are among the main motives for this process. In his article “The Age of Nonpolarity” Richard Haas explains the players in this new order as a:[1]

“At first glance, the world today may appear to be multipolar. The major powers — China, the European Union (EU), India, Japan, Russia, and the United States — contain just over half the world’s people and account for 75 percent of global GDP and 80 percent of global defense spending.”

The globe, which moved to a multipolar structure after 2000, is now showing signs of shifting to a bipolar order, with China emerging as one of the new poles, leaving other countries behind. It is fair to state that China has undergone rapid development and economic growth from Deng Xiaoping’s development policy to the now. Thanks to its double-digit production data, cheap labor advantage, and low value/competitive currency, it surpassed Japan in the economy league, ranking second after the United States. As the former Prime Minister of Singapore Lee Kuan Yew remarks, perhaps exaggerating, the situation is as follows:[2]

 “The size of China’s displacement of the world balance is such that the world must find a new balance. It is not possible to pretend that this is just another big player. This is the biggest player in the history of the World.”

In another statement Yew gave in the same interview, the expressions he used actually form the backbone of China’s silent rise today:[3]

“The Soviet Union was contesting with the United States for global supremacy. China is acting purely in its own national interests. It is not interested in changing the world.”

During the Cold War, China, which was a component of the communist bloc, invited the American Table Tennis team to visit their nation and pursued a softening policy that became known as ping-pong diplomacy in literature. The reason for this softening is expressed as follows in a secret intelligence report written on April 19, 1971:[4]

“The Chinese believe that the international situation is becoming favorable for them and that Washington will have to adjust itself to the changing situation.”

China’s development of relations with the West and immediately after the export-based development model that was initiated with the reforms it implemented, ensured its integration into the global economic system. Beijing, claiming to be seeking a peaceful rise, focused on economic growth and avoided the challenges that great power rivalry may bring. Increasingly attractive to global companies, China has become the focus of foreign direct investors and has been called the “Factory of the World”. The economic growth of China, which became a member of the World Trade Organization (WTO) in 2001, accelerated and caused it to be named as the world’s largest economy in future projections. However, the rise of China, which started peacefully, eventually reached the point of establishing a Sinocentric order after a certain period of time.

According to Zbigniew Brzezinski, a statement Deng Xiaoping made to himself in the early 1990s was perhaps the most striking statement showing how he defined China’s approach to foreign policy and general strategy:[5]

 “Observe calmly; secure our position; cope with affairs calmly; hide our capacities and bide our time; be good at maintaining a low profile; and never claim leadership.”

This statement by Xiaoping is indeed a significant statement as it reflects the philosophical roots underlying China’s rise. The first moment Beijing felt that the right time had come, acting within the framework of a hide and bide strategy, or in other words, a low-profile policy (Tao Guang Yang Hui), was the global economic crisis in 2008.

The global financial crisis in 2008 deeply affected many European countries and the USA. China, which emerged partially with little damage, has started to claim more rights in the global system. Beijing perceived the crisis as a chance to boost its soft power by providing economic aid as well as joining the European market through direct firm purchases. Seeing this crisis as a victory of Socialism with Chinese characteristics against Western liberalism, Beijing took the first steps to follow a proactive policy. This approach of China was also welcomed by the leaders of the developing countries. The statement of Luis De Silva, President of Brazil at the time, is an important statement made in this direction:[6]

“This was a crisis that was fostered and boosted by the irrational behaviour of people that are white, blue-eyed, that before the crisis looked like they knew everything about economics. Now they have demonstrated that they don’t know anything about economics.”

Since that date, China has initiated attempts to force elements of the current global system. With the coming to power of Xi Jinping in 2012, the Sino-Western rivalry became clear, and China’s actions were now regarded as part of a great power conflict. Attempts to abolish the dollar as the world’s reserve currency, the establishment of the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank as an alternative to the World Bank and, most importantly, the economic, diplomatic, and military power gains that began with the Belt-Road Project announced in 2013 have all deepen disorder between the US-China. The participation of nations in the Atlantic system such as England, France, and Germany in this Chinese initiative, despite US pressure, has also further widened the gap between the US and Europe. These developments also illustrate that the United States misread China’s rise. For instance, the words “I’ve been very explicit in saying that we have more to fear from a weakened, threatened China than a successful, rising China.”[7] that Barack Obama said in an interview with Jeffrey Goldber can be described as strategic blindness From the American perspective, Beijing is undoubtedly busy rejecting this claim.

Since 2013, a new step has been added to China’s global leadership efforts. Many changes resulted from the geopolitical turmoil that began with Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. The world, which has entered a period in which the legitimacy of the United Nations (UN) is questioned and an ideological war between the West and Asia is experienced, is also witnessing some attempts to encircle China in the region. n such a period, the concept of “Global Security Initiative”, which was expressed by Xi at the Bao Forum, which was initiated as an alternative to the Davos Summit, draws attention as a substantial initiative for the future of the global system.

Although Xi does not give details about this initiative, it can be considered as a step taken to turn the current crisis situation into an opportunity. By presenting the current crisis as an Asian-West ideological conflict, China aims to attract the countries of the region to its side. It should be known that the acceleration dynamics of the Atlantic, which rose after the Second World War, are gradually weakening. Asia is increasingly coming to the fore in terms of the world’s economic mobility, dynamic and young population demography, and underground and aboveground resources. Due to this feature, it is located at the center of great power competition.

Recent developments in the region have worried China and made it feel surrounded. It is understood that the most important step to be taken by China, which wants to break the siege, is to establish an organization that includes the countries of the region and represents the spirit of Asia, unlike the Atlantic-centered formation in the UN. Indeed, the themes of Xi’s speech show Beijing’s stance on the Asian-West split:[8]

“Having been through hot and cold wars, hardships and tribulations, people in Asia deeply cherish the value of peace and understand that development gains do not come easily. Over the past decades, Asia has enjoyed overall stability and sustained rapid growth, making possible the Asian Miracle. When Asia fares well, the whole world benefits. Therefore, we need to continue developing and strengthening Asia, demonstrate Asia’s resilience, wisdom and strength and make Asia an anchor for world peace, a powerhouse for global growth and a new pacesetter for international cooperation.”

In the subtext of Xi’s speech, there is the prediction that Asia will become increasingly unstable and a containment step will be taken against China. On the other hand, China brought all of Asia to the fore and considered itself an anchor of peace.

When considering the most vital point of Xi’s speech at the Conference on Interaction and Confidence Building Measures in Asia in 2014, it is necessary to remember the Chinese President’s words: “Matters in Asia must ultimately be taken care of by Asians, Asia’s problems must ultimately be resolved by Asians, and Asia’s security must ultimately be protected by Asians.”[9] Because the current situation shows that the thought system of Xi did not change during the period from 2014 to 2022 and he was locked towards a target. Although there have been 8 years in between, these statements, which are parallel to each other, reveal that this initiative was not put forward arbitrarily and that it had a theoretical background and intellectual depth.

Although it is unclear the route this movement will go, it is obvious that it is being proposed as a strong alternative to the Western world. The comments that will be made and the actions that will be performed in the following months will reveal the path of the “Global Security Initiative”

[1] Richard N. Haass, “The Age of Nonpolarity: What Will Follow U.S. Dominance”, Foreign Affairs, https://www.foreignaffairs.com/articles/united-states/2008-05-03/age-nonpolarity, (Date of Accession: 27.04.2022).

[2] Graham Allison-Robert Blackwill, “Interview: Lee Kuan Yew on the Future of U.S.- China Relations”, The Atlantic, https://www.theatlantic.com/china/archive/2013/03/interview-lee-kuan-yew-on-the-future-of-us-china-relations/273657/, (Date of Accession: 27.04.2022).

[3] Ibid.

[4] “Intelligence Memorandum: Ping Pong Diplomacy”, CIA, https://www.cia.gov/readingroom/search/site/Ping%20Pong%20Diplomacy, (Date of Accession: 27.04.2022).

[5] Zbigniew Brzezinski, “Major Foreign Policy Challenges for the Next US President”, International Affairs https://www.jstor.org/stable/27694919, (Date of Accession: 27.04.2022).

[6] James Chapman, “‘White, Blue-Eyed Bankers Have Brought World Economy to Its Knees’: What the Brazilian President Told Gordon Brown” Daily Mail, https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1165089/White-blue-eyed-bankers-brought-world-economy-knees-What-Brazilian-President-told-Gordon-Brown.html, (Date of Accession: 27.04.2022).

[7] Jeffrey Goldberg, “The Obama Doctrine”, The Atlantic, https://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2016/04/the-obama-doctrine/471525/, (Date of Accession: 27.04.2022).

[8] “Full text: Xi Jinping’s Speech at 2022 Boao Forum for Asia”, CGTN, https://news.cgtn.com/news/2022-04-21/Full-text-Xi-Jinping-s-speech-at-2022-Boao-Forum-for-Asia-19ppiaI90Eo/index.html, (Date of Accession: 27.04.2022).

[9] “China President Speaks Out on Security Ties in Asia”, BBC News, https://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-china-27498266, (Date of Accession: 27.04.2022).

Mustafa Cem KOYUNCU
Mustafa Cem Koyuncu, Karabük Üniversitesinde Uluslararası İlişkiler bölümünde Master öğrencisi olup Hint-Pasifik Bölgesi, ABD-Çin Rekabeti, uluslararası güvenlik, jeopolitik ve stratejik araştırmalar alanları üzerinde çalışmalar yapmaktadır. Karabük Üniversitesi’nde eğitimine başlamadan önce, Boğaziçi Üniversitesinde Lisans eğitimini tamamlamıştır. Özel sektörde yöneticilik tecrübesi kazanmasının ardından Cem, kariyerine ANKASAM’da devam etmektedir. Cem ileri seviyede İngilizce bilmektedir.