Chinese President Xi Jinping on Thursday proposed a “global security initiative” that upholds the principle of “indivisible security”, a concept also endorsed by Russia, although he did not elaborate on how the proposal would be implemented.
During a video speech at the annual Boao Forum for Asia event, Xi said the world must respect the sovereignty and territorial integrity of all countries, while paying attention to everyone’s “legitimate” security concerns.
“We must uphold the principle of indivisibility of security, build a balanced, effective and sustainable security architecture, and oppose building national security on the basis of insecurity in other countries,” Xi said at the meeting on southern China’s Hainan island. .
In talks on Ukraine, Russia has insisted that Western governments must abide by a 1999 agreement based on the principle of “indivisible security” that no country can strengthen its own security at the expense of others.
China and Russia have grown ever closer, and China has refused to condemn Russia’s February 24 invasion of Ukraine, which Moscow calls a “special operation” to demilitarize the country. China has blamed the crisis in Ukraine on NATO’s eastward expansion.
Analysts noted that this is the first time that China has advocated “indivisible security” outside the context of the Russia-Ukraine crisis, with implications for US actions in Asia.
Australia, New Zealand and the United States expressed concern about the security situation in the Pacific region after China signed an agreement with the Solomon Islands that includes defense assistance.
The countries signed the pact this week, stoking fears that China may try to build a naval base in the Pacific island state.
The Solomon Islands rejected the latest efforts by Australia, the country’s biggest donor to the islands, to thwart the deal.
The country’s prime minister, Manasseh Sogavare, argued that the new treaty “would not harm peace and harmony” in the region. The Solomon Islands leader added that the agreement does not target his traditional allies, but rather “our own internal security situation”.
He did not reveal the terms of the pact, but said it was signed “with eyes wide open, guided by our national interests”.
Chinese warships and troops
New Zealand Foreign Minister Nanaia Mahuta expressed her disappointment with the deal.
The pact was unveiled just days before US Under Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs Kurt Campbell visited the Solomon Islands for high-level talks.
These talks are likely related to US security concerns about China’s intensifying military presence in the region. The US has announced that it will reopen its embassy in the Solomon Islands, which has been closed since 1993.
According to a leaked draft of the agreement, verified by the Australian government, the agreement provides that Chinese warships will be able to dock in the islands and that Beijing will be able to send security forces “to help maintain social order”.
In recent years, there have been numerous social unrest in the Solomon Islands.
In November, the Australian government sent security agents to help quell riots in the capital, Honiara, after protesters stormed Parliament in an attempt to overthrow Sogavare. The violence caused deaths.
A spokesperson for China’s Foreign Ministry confirmed on Tuesday that the final pact retains provisions on “maintaining social order”.
The ‘worst failure of Australian foreign policy’
Australian Foreign Minister Marise Payne and Pacific Minister Zed Seselja said the deal was “deeply disappointing” and that they were “concerned at the lack of transparency with which this deal was developed”.
“Our unvarying view, even from the perspective of Australia’s national interests, remains that the Pacific family is best positioned to meet the security needs of the region,” they said in a statement.
Australia’s opposition said the China-Solomon Islands deal was “the worst Australian foreign policy failure in the Pacific” in 80 years.
Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison, currently campaigning for re-election — focused in part on national security — denied the deal was a sign that his government had erred in diplomatic relations with the Solomon Islands.
He says he “can’t go around telling Pacific Island leaders what they should and shouldn’t do.”
However, Morrison said his country would not have a “submissive relationship” with China, which would have made “all kinds of promises” to Pacific Rim nations.
“We have always defended our position against China because it is in our best interest,” Morrison told reporters Wednesday.
New Zealand’s Foreign Minister said her country was “saddened” by the pact signed by the Solomon Islands with China.
The Solomon Islands had already announced early last month that they were working on a security agreement with China.
This particularly worried Australia, which is just 2,000 km south of the Solomon Islands.