Chinese President Xi Jinping paid a state visit to the United States and attended a series of activities marking the 70th anniversary of the United Nations in late September. During his visit, Xi made important speeches that offered an important window of opportunity for the international community to better understand China’s national security policy.
China has been embarked on a road of national security that suits its national conditions and adapts to the development trends of the times. On April 15, 2014 at the first meeting of the National Security Commission, Xi first put forward and urged adherence to the outlook of an overall national security.
Xi’s remarks during his US visit reflected and further expounded the national security outlook.
First, peaceful development is the strategic choice for national security.
President Xi stated that “peaceful development is the right path”, and “sticking to the path of peaceful development is a strategic choice China has made based on objective judgments of the past, the present and the future”. He particularly stressed that “no matter how strong it may become, China will never pursue hegemony, expansion or a sphere of influence”. These statements explicitly sum up China’s basic perception, basis for the choice and future direction of peaceful development, and point to the fundamental approach in defending national security.
Since the founding of New China in 1949, China has been unswervingly following the road of peaceful development, has gained understanding and trust from across the world, and has won continuing peace and unprecedented opportunities for development. China, today or in the future, has no reason to depart from this path, and the pursuit of peaceful development has become the collective will of the Chinese people. By adhering to peaceful development, it means to stick to peaceful consultations in settling disagreements and disputes between and among countries, and through making persistent peaceful efforts, to create conditions for political solutions to all issues, and to oppose any wanton use of force or threat to use it. By adhering to peaceful development, however, it is by no means sacrificing any national core interests, nor waiving legitimate rights to defend the national interests. When China follows the road of peaceful development, other countries too should do so. Only when all countries opt for the road of peaceful development could common development and peaceful coexistence be achieved.
Second, safeguarding the safety of the people is the ultimate goal for national security.
During the visit, President Xi said that “the Chinese dream is fundamentally about making life better for the Chinese people”, and “the Americans and people in all other countries share the same dream about the future: world peace, social security and stability, and a decent life”. To make the dreams come true for the Chinese and peoples around the world, it will be a mission impossible “without a peaceful international environment and a stable international order”. These statements manifest that, in the heart of the Chinese leader, the pursuit for a happy and peaceful life is an extremely important task, and is the fundamental driver for creating a favorable internal security environment.
By upholding the safety of the people as the fundamental goal, it means that the national security is for the people and by the people, and the improvement in people’s sense of and satisfaction level about security should be the fundamental starting point and goal of the national security construction. To guarantee the safety of the people, it means that the people can live and work in peace and contentment, and the society is stable and orderly. Only when the people wholeheartedly support the construction of national security, could the goal of long-term peace and stability be achieved.
Third, ensuring sustainable development is the basis for national security.
President Xi has always paid particular attention to development. He stressed “development remains China’s top priority”. The Chinese economy, based on the sound foundation and momentum of growth, is on the right track for a brighter future. He said that China will, through deepening reforms and vigorously transforming the growth mode, strengthen the momentum for economic development. To cope with global challenges, “the fundamental way out is to seek peace and achieve development.” Chinese leaders always stress the importance of development, because development and security are considered to be China’s two major tasks, and also two major issues with direct bearing on the future of the world.
The Chinese government believes that development is key in solving all problems in China. Development is the foundation for security, and security is the guarantee for development.
At present, a focal point for national security is to effectively prevent and cope with risks and challenges that might seriously impair the country’s process of sustainable development. To follow the development path characterized by justice, openness and innovation and to achieve common prosperity has become an important approach for China to realize the goal of common security.
Fourth, forging a new type of international relations is the natural choice for national security.
President Xi has urged to “build a new type of international relations featuring win-win cooperation, and create a community of shared future for mankind”. It is widely believed that “China owes much of its progress in development over the past decades to international cooperation”. China has repeatedly urged all countries to “replace confrontation and domination with win-win cooperation, and adopt a new thinking of building partnerships, so as to jointly open up a new vista of common development and shared security”. The Chinese president particularly stressed that “win-win cooperation is the only correct choice for China-US relations”. The perception incorporates development, security and cooperation, and will help inspire and lead the evolution of international relations in the future.
With win-win cooperation at the core in the new type of international relations, this is the important experience and inspiration of history that China has gained from international cooperation in the past decades. The construction of the new type of international relations is constructive in improving the global governance structure and in jointly coping with global challenges, and has become the fundamental pursuit of China in creating a sound and favorable external security environment.
In a bid to build the new type of international relations with win-win cooperation at the core, it is a prerequisite to build partnerships in which countries treat each other as equals, engage in mutual consultations and show mutual understanding. Under the new type of international relations, the big, strong and rich should not bully the small, weak and poor. It is necessary to create a security architecture featuring fairness, justice, joint contribution and shared benefits. When one country pursues its own security, it must also give due consideration to the security of other countries, and should never seek absolute security. It is necessary to promote open, innovative and inclusive development that brings benefit to all. It requires openness, mutual assistance and win-win cooperation to achieve the goal of common development. China does not seek solely its own profits, adopts a new vision of seeking win-win outcomes for all, and tries to embrace a new approach to state-to-state relations, one that features “dialogue rather than confrontation, partnership rather than alliance”.
Fifth, promoting world peace and stability is an important responsibility of national security.
President Xi pointed out that “peace is the common aspiration and lofty goal of the mankind”, China’s development calls for a peaceful, stable international environment, “no country can achieve stability out of other countries’ instability”, and China is “committed to making greater effort in defending world peace and promoting common development”. He stressed, in seeking political solutions to global and regional hot issues and in addressing global risks and challenges, China has never chosen to stay outside and has played its due role and responsibility. This shows that world peace and stability are closely related to China’s security and development. Only when the world peace and stability are guaranteed, could China’s national security be achieved.
In promoting world peace and stability, China has stressed that the international community should be committed to multilateralism, should uphold the core role of the United Nations, and should support the Security Council in performing its ultimate responsibility in safeguarding international peace and stability. In addressing international and regional issues, China advocates upholding the principles of equality, equity and justice to seek political solutions through peaceful consultations, opposes intervention into other countries’ internal affairs, and promotes the global governance system to be more equitable and reasonable.
China has been active in addressing hot global issues, upholds its position and policy based on the rights and wrongs behind the issues, endeavors to uphold justice, and has been playing an active, constructive role within its capacity. In the past few years, China has played a constructive role in such regional and global issues, including the Iran nuclear issue, the Korean nuclear issue, Afghanistan, Syria and the Palestine-Israel conflict. When the Ebola epidemic outbreak occurred in Africa, China immediately sent medical personnel there to aid the countries. China has recently decided to join the new United Nations peacekeeping capability readiness system, and to take the lead to set up a permanent peacekeeping police squad and build a peacekeeping standby force of 8,000 troops. Xi also pledged that China would provide $100 million in military assistance to the African Union to support the establishment of an African standby force and to boost its capacity for crisis response. With China’s development and rise, China will be ready to play a greater, constructive role in maintaining world peace and stability.