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Actively Practice the Asian Security Concept and Jointly Create a New Future of Asia-Pacific Security

--Remarks by Vice Foreign Minister Liu Zhenmin At the Opening Ceremony of the International Seminar on "Security Framework and Major-Power Relations In the Asia-Pacific Region"


Beijing, 9 July 2016

President Liu Wei,
Ladies and Gentlemen,


Good morning.

It gives me great pleasure to attend this seminar at the beautiful campus of Renmin University of China (RUC). On behalf of the Chinese Foreign Ministry, I would like to express warm congratulations on the opening of the seminar and heartfelt thanks to the RUC School of International Studies for the thoughtful arrangements. The Institute for National Security Studies of the RUC will also be inaugurated today. I hope that the Institute will build on the RUC's academic strengths, keep pace with domestic and global changes, meet the needs of national security and development, actively conduct professional, strategic and inter-disciplinary research, and make itself a new, high-standard and high-end think tank.

In recent years, the security architecture and major-country interactions in the Asia Pacific have attracted wide attention. With this as the theme of discussion, participants will exchange views, pool wisdom and offer suggestions on the security concept, security agenda, cooperation mechanism as well as major-country relations in the Asia Pacific. The meeting is therefore timely and relevant.

An ancient Chinese saying goes:"A gentleman is constantly mindful of danger, fatality and chaos even when he is in a state of security, survival and order. And this ensures the security of himself and the state." Indeed, since ancient times, mankind have been looking for ways to walk out of the security dilemma and reach the state of common security of ensuring security of oneself without damaging the security of others.

From the vision of a world of harmony and justice to the idea of benevolence that promotes righteousness and rejects hegemonism, from Plato's Republic to Immanuel Kant's perpetual peace, and from Woodrow Wilson's "Fourteen Points" to the Atlantic Charter, the mankind's quest for peace and justice has never ceased. From the Westphalian system, the origin of modern international relations, to the Vienna system in the 19th-century Europe, from the post-World War I Versailles-Washington system, the post-World War II Yalta system, to the Helsinki process which shaped common security in Europe, the efforts to build a sound security architecture have never stopped.

Now, let's turn our eyes back to the Asia Pacific and take a look at the building of security architecture in our own region. Currently, there are five types of security mechanisms in the Asia Pacific: First, the US-led alliance system and relevant bilateral and multilateral arrangements; Second, the ASEAN-centered security dialogue and cooperation mechanisms such as the ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF) and ASEAN Defense Ministers' Meeting-Plus (ADMM+); Third, special mechanisms on hotspot issues such as the Six-Party Talks and the Quartet on Afghanistan; Fourth, cross-region security cooperation mechanisms such as the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) and Conference on Interaction and Confidence-Building Measures in Asia (CICA); Fifth, Track 1.5 or Track 2 security dialogue platforms involving participants from the region and beyond such as the Shangri-La Dialogue, Xiangshan Forum and the Asia-Pacific Roundtable.

Since the end of the Cold War, the Asia Pacific has avoided major conflicts and wars and maintained overall peace in a complex and volatile environment. This is not God's blessing or historical coincidence, but the result of joint efforts of all Asia-Pacific countries and the work of various security mechanisms under different conditions at different times. Security architecture in the Asia Pacific on the whole needs improvement.

Today, the Asia Pacific is witnessing a faster adjustment of geopolitical structure while enjoying overall stability. On the one hand, the tug-of-war between major countries has escalated. The Korean nuclear issue, Afghanistan and other hotspot sensitive issues are heating up. Territorial and maritime disputes are thrown into sharper relief. Terrorism, climate change, natural disaster, humanitarian crisis and other non-traditional security issues are on the rise. These have posed more complex and grave security challenges to the Asia Pacific. On the other hand, the balance of power in the region has seen major changes. China and other developing countries are growing stronger and playing an even more constructive role in regional and international affairs. We need reasonable development space, an appropriate say in the world, and a new regional security structure that is reflective of the reality of the region, consistent with the interests and needs of various parties and acceptable to all.

In this context, countries have put forward various initiatives and proposals, for example, the rules-based Asia-Pacific security system by the US, the Asia-Pacific regional security and cooperation structure by Russia, the ASEAN's call for further consolidation of ASEAN centrality, the dialogue-based Asia-Pacific security architecture by India, the Northeast Asia Peace and Cooperation Initiative by the ROK, and the list goes on. What kind of regional security architecture to build and how to build it has been a popular subject of discussion among the parties concerned.


As an important member of the Asia-Pacific family, China has all along been a builder of peace, contributor to development and defender of security in the Asia Pacific. China is ready to contribute its wisdom and proposals to maintaining peace and stability in the region. Here, let me share with you some of my observations on the building of Asia-Pacific security architecture.

First, the architecture should be guided by the goal of common security and common development. Security and development, like two wings of a bird and two wheels of a bike, are mutually reinforcing and indispensable. It is important to ensure common security and pursue common development through the building of the Asia-Pacific security architecture.

In the 21st century, Asia-Pacific countries have formed a community of shared future and common responsibility. Confronted with complicated risks and challenges, countries cannot uphold their own security by themselves. Pursuing a beggar-thy-neighbor policy, forming alliance or opting for confrontation only escalate tensions. This makes cooperation the only way out. We should be firmly committed to win-win cooperation, and reject the outdated mindset of zero-sum game or "the winner takes all." We should accommodate the interests of others while upholding our own interests, promote common development while seeking our own development, and follow a path of common security underpinned by dialogue, consultation and win-win cooperation. The building of the Asia-Pacific security architecture should not be dictated by a single country or a few countries. And the architecture should meet the common security interests of all countries instead of any one country or a small group of countries. Take the move by the ROK and the US to deploy the THAAD system in the ROK for example, they have only considered their own security with no regard to the security of others. But ultimately their own security may not be ensured in this way.

Second, the architecture should be based on widely acceptable norms governing international relations. Ideas guide actions. In this case, the concept of Asia-Pacific security should be constantly updated to guide the development of the security architecture.

The architecture should be fostered with three principles: First, firmly uphold the UN-centered post-war international system and basic norms governing international relations, particularly the purposes and principles of the UN Charter. Second, observe universally recognized international law and international rules, such as the Five Principles of Peaceful Coexistence, the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), the Treaty of Amity and Cooperation in Southeast Asia (TAC), and the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea (DOC). Third, endorse and embrace the ASEAN Way of equality, consensus and accommodating each other's comfort level, based on the common understanding reached among regional countries in their exchanges and interactions. Only by following such principles and spirit, can we make steady progress in pursuing a path of Asia-Pacific security explored, built, shared and protected by all, and solidify the foundation for the Asia-Pacific security architecture.

Third, the architecture should be strengthened by building partnerships. Those who share the same ideal and follow the same path can be partners. Those who seek common ground while shelving differences can also be partners. Asia-Pacific countries should work together to take a new path which chooses dialogue over confrontation, partnership over alliance, and amity over grudges, and jointly foster an Asia-Pacific partnership of mutual trust, inclusiveness, mutual benefit, reciprocity, mutual understanding and mutual accommodation.

Whether an effective security architecture can emerge in the Asia Pacific will depend on how China and the US interact with each other in this part of the world. Both important members of the Asia Pacific, China and the US shoulder great responsibilities for peace and prosperity in the region. The two countries are building a new model of major-country relations featuring no conflict or confrontation, mutual respect and win-win cooperation. This is in line with the common expectation and aspirations of the countries in the region as well as the fundamental interests of themselves. The two sides need to develop a correct understanding of each other's strategic intention. China does not want to be the predominant power in the Asia Pacific, or build spheres of influence and military alliance. It has no intention to replace the US or exclude the US from the region. And it does not seek to be part of the so-called G2. We hope the US will play a constructive role in the Asia Pacific, recognize and accept the fact of a growing China, cast aside the Cold War mentality, respect China's sovereignty and territorial integrity, and coexist with China peacefully. The US "rebalance" to the Asia Pacific should not be advanced on ideological grounds,turning this region into a showground of naval and air power,or forcing regional countries to take sides. The relevant bilateral military alliances are a product of a bygone era. In this new age, they should be more transparent and not target a third party or aim at holding back and blocking China.

Parties should continue to support the development of the mechanisms in which ASEAN plays a leading role, respect its centrality in regional cooperation, and demonstrate such support and respect with real actions. China welcomes Russia's interest and input in the Asia Pacific, and wants to see Russia and regional countries working together as a stabilizer for peace and security in the region. China also attaches great importance to further strengthening China-Japan-ROK trilateral cooperation. Other parties also need to take actions to play a constructive role and jointly put in place an Asia-Pacific security architecture.

Fourth, the architecture should take the form of an integrated, multi-layered, and diversified network. The architecture we are building is not a brand new project that dismisses all previous arrangements, but an upgrading and improvement of existing ones. It should be a multi-layered, broad-based, and integrated network that is open, inclusive,and cooperative, and deliver win-win outcomes. It is based on existing security mechanisms and open to countries outside the region. It should be an anchor for regional peace and stability.

The current mechanisms in the region must be updated to play a bigger role. Parties should support the "parallel-track" approach of advancing denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula and replacing the armistice agreement with a peace treaty. Parties concerned should increase dialogue, resume the Six-Party Talks at an early date, and ensure long-term peace and stability in Northeast Asia. Various parties should continue to promote peace and reconstruction in Afghanistan and support an Afghan-led and Afghan-owned inclusive political reconciliation process. The Shanghai Cooperation Organization should play a bigger role; the Conference on Interaction and Confidence-Building Measures in Asia should strengthen its institutional building; and regional security dialogue platforms, such as the Xiangshan Forum and the World Peace Forum, should achieve greater development. We must take an active part in the dialogue and cooperation under various arrangements, improve the relevant institutions, put forward more initiatives and proposals that meet the needs of regional countries, and provide more public goods, in order to gradually put in place an Asia-Pacific security architecture and system that is consistent with the trend of the times and the needs of countries in the region and encourages broad participation.


The world today is with better conditions than ever before to pursue peaceful development. As a responsible major country, China is committed to the path of peaceful development and regards promoting world peace and development its sacred responsibility. Meanwhile, it is only natural that China will firmly uphold its sovereignty, security and development interests. No one should expect China to live with the consequences of having these compromised.

For China, the Asia Pacific is its home and foundation for development and prosperity. China calls for an Asian security concept featuring common, comprehensive, cooperative, and sustainable security. It stands for consultation and dialogue, not threat of force; openness and inclusiveness, not mutual exclusion; and win-win cooperation, not zero-sum game. Such a concept opens up broad prospects for regional security cooperation. China actively participates in bilateral and multilateral security dialogue and cooperation, regional security frameworks, and cooperation in non-traditional security fields, such as disaster prevention and reduction, search and rescue, counter-terrorism, and combating transnational crimes. China is stepping up policy coordination with other countries on the management of hotspot issues and regional security cooperation, promoting the development of a common security code of conduct, and providing new impetus for building a security architecture in the Asia Pacific through innovations in security concepts and practices.

China is implementing the Belt and Road Initiative first in Asia, seeking synergy between its development strategies and those of neighboring countries, and advancing cooperation in infrastructure and production capacity. The Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank has been launched. We are strengthening regional cooperation institutions, including 10+1, 10+3, China-Japan-ROK, APEC, and the SCO, and building a more open, inclusive, and mutually beneficial network of regional cooperation. We are taking forward Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) negotiations, developing the Free Trade Area of the Asia-Pacific (FTAAP), and exploring ways to connect various free trade arrangements for better coordination and complementarity. We are deepening regional cooperation and economic integration to provide solid economic and social support for the Asia-Pacific security architecture.


For some time, the situation in the South China Sea has been a focus of attention. In a few days, the arbitral tribunal on the South China Sea initiated by the Philippines will issue the so-called final "award." So let me say a few words about the South China Sea issue.

The Nansha Islands are an integral part of Chinese territory. This is supported by a mountain of historical and legal evidence. It is only right and natural for a country to stand up for its territorial sovereignty. This arbitration case is in fact a political provocation of China's sovereignty and gravely violates the principles of international law. The arbitral tribunal has turned a blind eye to the real nature of China-Philippines disputes, which is territorial and maritime delimitation, ignored China's declaration under Article 298 of UNCLOS, and arbitrarily heard and exercised jurisdiction on a case that clearly involves matters beyond UNCLOS. This is a willful attempt to expand and act beyond its authority. The arbitration case has been built on an illegal basis from the very beginning. Naturally its so-called "award" is also illegal. China does not accept or participate in the case, and will not recognize its verdict. This is to defend our rights, and also uphold international rule of law.

The only way to settle the South China Sea disputes is for countries directly concerned to carry out negotiation. Historical experience shows that negotiated solutions to disputes not only reflect the independent will of the countries concerned and sovereign equality, but also stabilize and promote bilateral relations. China and the Philippines are neighbors that cannot be moved away. Good-neighborliness and friendship is a historical tradition of our two countries, and the right way to go. We hope the new administration of the Philippines will adopt a new approach to the South China Sea,bring the disputes to the negotiating table, and take China-Philippines relations back to the track of development.

To safeguard peace and stability in the South China Sea is a common responsibility of China and other countries in the region. China stands ready to address the South China Sea issue with the "dual track" approach that has won extensive recognition from countries in the region, namely peacefully resolving relevant disputes through friendly consultation between countries directly concerned and upholding peace and stability in the South China Sea by China and ASEAN countries working together. China is committed to implementing the DOC and working for an early conclusion of the COC. China will, as always, make joint efforts with all parties to uphold peace and stability with rules and mechanisms, achieve win-win outcomes through development and cooperation, and ensure that all countries enjoy freedom of navigation and overflight according to law, so as to make the South China Sea a sea of peace, friendship, and cooperation.

All of you present here today are experts on regional security. You have fascinating insight into regional security architecture. An ancient Chinese essay has this to say, "The vast universe, throbbing with life, lies spread before us." I hope you will share with us both a macro perspective that covers the universe, and a micro understanding of the specific issues in it. I look forward to in-depth discussions in which we can explore the pathway to an Asia-Pacific security architecture in a practical, open, and innovative way and envisage the bright prospect of security cooperation in the region.

I wish this seminar a complete success.

Thank you.

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