'Shangri-La Dialogue' should focus on cooperation

14:48, June 03, 2011      

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A delegation led by Liang Guanglie, Chinese defense minister and state councilor, participated in the 10th Asia Security Summit, also known as the Shangri-La Dialogue, that opened in Singapore on June 3. This is the first time that a Chinese delegation led by the defense minister has participated in the summit since this mechanism was established 10 years ago. This is also the highest rank of Chinese delegations over the years.

The Shangri-La Dialogue has gradually developed into one of the largest and highest ranking multilateral defense and security forums among Asia-Pacific regional security dialogue mechanisms since it was established 10 years ago. It is of great importance for promoting mutual communication, interaction, understanding and mutual trust between Asia-Pacific countries.

China has sent senior military delegations led by the deputy chief of the general staff to participate in the summit for four consecutive years since 2007. However, China upgraded the rank of the delegation this year, which reflects that China attaches great importance to maintaining and promoting Asia-Pacific regional security.

China has always participated in regional security cooperation in a sincere, candid and constructive manner. It is hoped that that all parties involved will strengthen mutual trust and cooperation to maintain peace and stability in the Asia-Pacific region.

Past Chinese delegates reiterated at every Shangri-La Dialogue that China would always observe the policy "be a good neighbor, good partner" while fostering a new security concept featuring mutual trust, mutual benefit, equality and coordination.

China advocates the settlement of major international and regional issues through peaceful means and opposes the arbitrary use of force or threat of force, aggression and expansion, as well as hegemony and power politics. China conducts military exchanges based on the non-alignment principles and the Five Principles of Peaceful Coexistence, and carries out military cooperation that is non-confrontational and not directed against any third party. China adheres to the concepts of openness, pragmatism and cooperation when expanding its participation in international security cooperation, strengthening strategic coordination and consultation with major powers and neighboring countries, and taking part in U.N. peace-keeping operations, maritime escort missions, international counter-terrorism cooperation and disaster relief operations. Furthermore, China supports fair, rational, comprehensive and balanced arms control and disarmament, and strives to maintain global strategic stability.

The security situation in the Asia-Pacific region is complex and changeable. Asia-Pacific countries face many tough problems, including ethnic and religious conflicts, territorial disputes, maritime rights disagreements and frequent terrorist, separatists and extremist activities.

Although they are fully aware of the necessity and urgency of enhancing regional security cooperation, a number of differences remain to be settled. Disagreement and even collision of opinions were common in previous Shangri-La Dialogues, which was understandable. However, the dialogue should not be used as a platform for certain countries to deliberately criticize other countries or a tool of exerting unilateral political pressure.

In response to the concerns of countries, such as the United States, Japan and India, over "the rise of China," the Chinese government has reiterated China's adherence to the path of peaceful development and its positive attitude to promote international security cooperation. Each side should step up exchanges based on mutual respect, understanding and accommodation and avoid damaging the overall atmosphere of mutual trust and cooperation by arguments and criticism.

Given the concerns of ASEAN countries over non-traditional security issues, the Chinese side has repeatedly expressed its sincerity in actively participating in economic, energy and environmental security cooperation as well as the fight against terrorism in the Asia-Pacific region and has proposed to expand exchange channels to enhance mutual trust and clear up doubts, and to gradually solve issues rooted in history, provided that the region remains stable. It is crucial to maintain mutual trust during this process.

During the forum, Liang Guanglie will deliver a special speech titled "China's International Security Cooperation" on June 5, expounding on China's defense policies as well as the policies and proposals on promoting regional security cooperation and achieving harmony in the Asia-Pacific Region. He will also meet and exchange ideas with military leaders of some countries in order to introduce the policies and practices of China's military forces in fields such as international peacekeeping, disaster relief and the fight against pirates. This has fully displayed the "open and confident" image of the Chinese government and military. China’s participation is crucial for the establishment of a new type of impartial, fair and rational international security dialogue mechanism.

The author Zhang Xuegang is vice director of the Institute of South and Southeast Asian Studies under the China Institutes of Contemporary International Relations. The article is translated by People's Daily Online.

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