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Jointly Safeguard Peace and Build A Secure Asia-Pacific Region

( Source: MOD  )         2015-May-31 21:03

Jointly Safeguard Peace and Build A Secure Asia-Pacific Region

 - Speech at the 14th Shangri-La Dialogue

 by ADMIRAL Sun Jianguo

Deputy Chief of General Staff, People’s Liberation Army

 


Admiral Sun Jianguo, deputy chief of general staff of China's People's Liberation Army (PLA) addresses the fourth plenary session of the Shangri-La Dialogue in Singapore, May 31, 2015. Sun Jianguo elaborated on China's foreign and defense policies. (Xinhua/Bao Xuelin)

  Dr. Chipman, Ladies and gentlemen,

  First of all, I wish to pay high tribute to Mr. Lee Kuan Yew who made extraordinary contributions to peace and development in Asia. I would like to thank our hosts for inviting my colleagues and me to this dialogue. Let me take this opportunity to illustrate China’s policies, concepts, practices and proposals on safeguarding peace and security.

  I. China adheres to the path of peaceful development and is committed to promoting regional and international prosperity and stability. We have but one planet and countries share one world. Committed to peaceful development, China upholds a national defense policy that is defensive in nature. A more developed and stronger China will bring important opportunities, common prosperity and positive energy to countries around the world.

  China advocates the building of a community of shared destiny, providing its strategy for peace and development of mankind. Our world today is witnessing in-depth development in multipolarization and economic globalization, and constant progress is been made in IT application and cultural diversity. It has become a salient feature of human progress that countries are increasingly interdependent and they fall and rise together. As early as in 2012, based on his profound insight into the future of human destiny, Chinese President Xi Jinping put forward the idea of building a community of shared destiny for all mankind. At the Boao Forum for Asian Annual Conference last March, President Xi further advocated that countries need to respect each other and treat each other as equals, seek win-win cooperation and common development, pursue common, comprehensive, cooperative and sustainable security, and uphold inclusiveness and mutual learning between civilizations. This grand vision transcends national and ideological boundaries. It is a new vision that will promote the world to enduring peace and common prosperity, and represents China’s wisdom to work with the rest of the world to build a better home for mankind.

  China is committed to promoting win-win cooperation and a new model of international relations that meets the security and development needs of all countries. Confrontation must be replaced with cooperation and zero-sum game with mutual benefits if the purposes and principles of the UN Charter are to be carried forward. And this is also the way to achieve peaceful development. To keep up with the times, we cannot live in the 21st century with outdated thinking from the age of colonial expansion or the zero-sum mentality of the Cold War. Cooperation for win-win outcomes should be adopted as the fundamental goal in interactions between countries. And it is necessary to seek common ground while shelving differences, increase common interests and defuse disputes, and pursue peace, development and security through cooperation. While seeking security and development for themselves, countries need to accommodate the security of others and work for common development of all.

  China advocates common, comprehensive, cooperative and sustainable security and the building of a path towards security that is shared by and win-win to all. In today’s world, security means much more than before and its implications go well beyond a single region or time frame and all kinds of factors are becoming increasingly complex and intertwined. No country can enjoy the security of its own while leaving the rest insecure. Nor can one seek absolute security of itself at the expense of the security of others. Countries should resolve disputes and differences through peaceful dialogue and negotiation and accommodate the security concerns of others while safeguarding their own. It is important to take into consideration both history and reality concerning security issues and tackle traditional and non-traditional security issues in a coordinated way. It is important to emphasize both development and security, encourage partnership instead of alliance, and establish more inclusive and constructive partnership without setting imaginary enemies or targeting any third party, so as to promote sustainable security through sustainable development.

  China firmly believes in the approach of upholding justice while pursuing shared interests and values faith, friendship, justice and principles in international affairs. Committed to upholding justice while pursuing common interests, China has provided assistance to other countries to the best of its ability and shall always be a reliable friend and sincere partner of other developing countries. China strives to play a constructive role in international affairs with an objective and impartial position, and will never depend on or subjugate itself to any external forces. Believing in openness and inclusiveness, China respects the social systems and development paths chosen by the people for their own countries and stands for tolerance and mutual learning among civilizations, with a view to jointly contributing to human progress.

  II. China actively fulfills its international responsibilities and obligations and plays a constructive role in safeguarding regional and international security and stability. As a permanent member of the UN Security Council and a responsible major country, China has actively engaged in international security cooperation and played a unique role in the effort to create a peaceful, stable, prosperous neighborhood and provided public services to address global problems and challenges.

  First, fulfill international obligations as a major country and actively participate in the missions under the UN Framework. Since 1990, the Chinese military has sent over 30,000 officers and soldiers to participate in 24 UN peace-keeping missions. This year, for the first time, China sent an infantry battalion of 700 personnel to South Sudan. China is the largest force contributor among the permanent members of UNSC. Authorized by the UNSC resolutions, China has sent 20 task groups of 59 naval vessels to the Gulf of Aden and the waters off Somalia since 2008, providing protection to nearly 6,000 ships of which half are from foreign countries. Answering to the call of the UNSC and OPCW, Chinese naval ships accomplished the task to escort the ships delivering Syria’s chemical weapons for destruction in 2014.

  Second, promote humanitarian spirit and actively participate in disaster relief and emergency response efforts. China shares the pain and difficulties of the affected countries and stands ready to provide personnel, financial and material assistance to the best of its ability. In responding to the typhoon disaster in the Philippines, in searching for the missing passenger plane of Malaysian Airlines, in fighting the Ebola epidemic, and in delivering emergency water supplies to Maldives, the Chinese military has provided swift humanitarian assistance. Not long ago, during its operation to evacuate Chinese citizens from Yemen, the Chinese Navy helped evacuate 279 people from 15 countries, including Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Germany, Japan, and Singapore. When a magnitude 8.1 earthquake hit Nepal, the Chinese military not only provided emergency disaster relief supplies, but also sent rescue and medical teams. The PLA naval hospital ship, the Peace Ark, carried out overseas medical services and participated in medical relief operations in 18 countries, providing treatment and medicines to the people in need.

  Third, address common security challenges and deepen practical security cooperation. China has actively enhanced its bilateral and multilateral defense and security cooperation in a bid to work with the rest of the world to deal with security threats and challenges. Up to now, the Chinese military has conducted over 100 joint military exercises and training activities with more than 50 countries. In April this year, the Chinese and U.S. naval ships held the CUES exercise in the South China Sea. In the middle of this month, the Chinese and Russian navies carried out a joint exercise in the Mediterranean Sea aimed at protecting open sea shipping. A few days ago, China sent personnel to take part in the 4th ARF disaster relief exercise in Malaysia. Over the years, China helped train tens of thousands of military personnel of various kinds for more than 130 countries. China has also taken an active part in international humanitarian mine clearance assistance by training technical personnel from Afghanistan, Iraq and Sudan, donating mine clearance equipment and providing assistance to relevant countries.

  Fourth, enhance mutual understanding and trust and strengthen defense and security dialogue and exchanges. China is actively advancing the steady development of the new model of military-to-military relationship with the United States, enriching the security connotation of China-Russia comprehensive strategic and cooperative partnership, building up a closer China-ASEAN Community of Shared Destiny, taking the initiative to launch China-ASEAN Defense Minister’s informal meetings, establishing defense and security consultation mechanisms with 27 countries and actively participating in multilateral defense exchanges within the frameworks such as Shanghai Cooperation Organization, ASEAN Regional Forum and ASEAN Defense Ministers’ Meeting Plus.

  Fifth, safeguard regional peace and stability and properly handle disputes over territorial sovereignty and maritime rights and interests. China commits to forge friendship and partnership with its neighbors and foster amity, sincerity, mutual benefit and inclusiveness in its neighborhood. So far, China has completed the delimitation of land borders with 12 of its 14 neighbors, and established the maritime boundary with Vietnam in the Beibu Gulf. China has signed treaties of good neighborliness, friendship and cooperation with eight of its neighbors and has started the negotiation on a similar treaty with ASEAN. When dealing with maritime disputes with relevant neighboring countries, China has always kept in mind the large picture of maritime security. In spite of the sufficient historical and legal evidence and its indisputable claims of rights and interests, China has exercised enormous restraint, making positive contributions to peace and stability of the region and the world at large.

  At present, the situation in the South China Sea is on the whole peaceful and stable, and there has never been an issue with the freedom of navigation in the South China Sea. China has carried out construction on some islands and reefs in the South China Sea mainly for the purpose of improving the functions of the relevant islands and reefs and the working and living conditions of personnel stationed there. Apart from meeting the necessary defense needs, it is more geared to better perform China’s international responsibilities and obligations regarding maritime search and rescue, disaster prevention and relief, maritime scientific research, meteorological observation, environmental protection, safety of navigation, and fishery production services. China has built an oceanic survey station for the United Nations on the Yongshu Jiao and started the construction of two multifunctional lighthouses on the Huayang Jiao and Chigua Jiao, and these construction projects are for the purpose of providing international public services. As a major country, the scale and pace of its construction is in line with the international responsibilities and obligations China assumes in the South China Sea. I want to reaffirm that these construction projects fall well within the scope of China’s sovereignty and are legitimate, justified and reasonable. They do not target any other countries or affect the freedom of navigation. There are no changes in China’s claims in the South China Sea, no changes in China’s position on peaceful resolution of the relevant disputes through negotiation and consultation, no changes in China’s will to safeguard the freedom and safety of navigation in the South China Sea, and no changes in China’s goal to uphold peace and stability in the South China Sea. We hope relevant countries will work together in the same direction to build the South China Sea into a sea of peace, friendship and cooperation.

  I wish to explain to you that it only took China several decades to accomplish the progress developed countries made in several hundred years, which China undoubtedly can be proud of. China has become the world’s second largest economy since 2010 in aggregate terms. However, with a total population of over 1.3 billion, China’s per capita GDP ranks around the 90th place in the world, and China is still the largest developing country in the world. China’s water, oil and gas resources in per capita terms are only about 25%, 20% and 5% respectively of the world average, and its per capita farmland is less than half of the world average. Each year, another 10 million workers need to find jobs in cities, and there are over 8.5 million people with disabilities in China. According to World Bank standards, there are still over 200 million people living under the poverty line in China. What’s more, China is under huge pressure when it comes to treatment of environmental pollution and ecological protection. These difficulties that China faces in its development are beyond the imagination of other countries. In spite of such circumstances, China has actively fulfilled various international obligations and done its utmost to help countries and peoples in need, and this demonstrates the earnest effort of the Chinese government and people to translate the vision for a community of shared destiny into reality.

  III. Vigorously enhance defense and security cooperation and make greater contribution to common security of the region and the world. Peaceful development needs the joint efforts of all countries. Defense departments and militaries of various countries should strengthen defense and security cooperation and jointly safeguard regional and world security and stability. Here, I would like to share with you the following ideas and proposals in this profession.

  - Pursue enduring peace. History and reality have told us that wars, like devil and nightmare, bring disaster and deep sufferings to mankind and must be resolutely prevented. Peace, like air and sunshine, is hardly noticed when people are benefiting from it, but no one can survive without it and utmost care must be given to look after it. The Chinese military will unswervingly defend the core national interests, unswervingly promote defense and security cooperation, unswervingly shoulder international responsibilities and fulfill international obligations. We are ready to work with defense departments and militaries of all countries, stay committed to taking history as a mirror, and make joint efforts to safeguard the post-war international order with the United Nations as the core and based on the purposes and principles of the UN Charter, jointly safeguard world peace, so that people of all countries can share peace and happiness.

  - Uphold mutual trust and inclusiveness. Only when countries treat each other with mutual trust, honoring of commitment, mutual understanding and inclusiveness, can they find more common ground, resolve differences, and work together for the common interests. We should take mutual respect as the prerequisite. All countries, big or small, rich or poor, strong or weak, are equal members of the international community and enjoy equal rights to participate in international affairs. The affairs of a country should be run by that country independently. We should uphold fairness and objectiveness, and make assessment of things taking place on the international stage on the basis of their merits or demerits, rather than following double standards and making irresponsible remarks based on one’s own subjective preferences or sowing discord. We should value inclusiveness as a principle. Since countries have different histories, cultures and traditions, the defense departments in various countries should have more understanding and trust, and less suspicion or misgivings, so as to really turn mutual trust into a bridge and bond for realizing common security and building a community of shared destiny for mankind.

  - Adhere to the effective approach of dialogue and consultation. It is not so terrible to have differences. What is important is to find the measures and ways to resolve them. We should seek resolutions to disputes and differences step by step through strengthening mutual understanding and consensus building via peaceful negotiations while preventing conflicts and confrontation. We should focus on common interests and strive to expand common interests through strengthening cooperation. We should continue to construct and use well the existing regional security cooperation mechanisms, such as the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, the Conference on Interaction and Confidence-Building Measures in Asia, the ASEAN Regional Forum, and ASEAN Defense Ministers' Meeting Plus, so as to provide guarantee for enduring peace in the region. At present, China and ASEAN countries are exploring the establishment of crisis management measures such as bilateral defense telephone links. China and Japan have restarted consultation over maritime and air liaison mechanism. Currently, China is working with the U.S, to further improve the Rules of Behavior for Safety of Air and Maritime Encounters.

  - Meet the inherent demand for sharing responsibilities. All countries, big or small, have the equal rights to participate in regional security affairs and share the responsibilities to maintain world peace and regional stability. Big countries should take on responsibilities for a big country and should not bully small countries. Small countries need to meet responsibilities for a small country, provoke no incident and refrain from hijacking regional security for selfish gains. Developed countries possess and control a larger part of global resources and should shoulder more responsibilities in the joint endeavor to meet global challenges and major security threats. Developing countries should strive to overcome difficulties and take progressive steps to gradually improve their security environment and play a role corresponding to their strength in promoting international security.

  - Uphold the core concept of win-win cooperation. In the new historical era, force cannot build peace and power cannot guarantee security. Only through win-win cooperation can we do big and good things which can last in the long run. China proposes the “Belt and Road” initiative, and is in the process of establishing the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, and all of these will bring tangible benefits to countries in the region. In October this year, China will host the China-ASEAN Defense Ministers’ Special Meeting and the 6th Xiangshan Forum in Beijing. We are ready to discuss with other countries the way ahead for defense and security cooperation. We hope that all countries in the world will, in the spirit of win-win and all-win cooperation, strengthen communication and consultation, and make concerted efforts to safeguard peace and stability.

  Thank you.

Editor :  Zhang Tao