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China’s Stance at Moscow Conference

Aug 25, 2023
  • Xiao Bin

    Deputy Secretary-general, Center for Shanghai Cooperation Organization Studies, Chinese Association of Social Sciences

Russia, which has been isolated by the West since the start of the war in Ukraine, needs to use every means to have its voice heard by the rest of the world.

The 11th Moscow Conference on International Security began on Aug. 15, with about 80 countries participating. Russia attached great importance to the meeting and made meticulous preparations.

First, it arranged speeches by ranking Russian officials on multipolarization and the West, as well as exchanges on the significance of Russian efforts to achieve a multipolar world order, its military struggle against Western anti-multi-polarization and corresponding experiences and the inevitable success of multipolarization.

Second, it held a military equipment exhibition, demonstrating both the research and development as well as manufacturing capabilities of the Russian military industry and its combat strength. Military equipment captured from Ukraine’s forces were put on display in Patriot Park, the venue for the meeting. Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said at the event that Russia’s military equipment capacity had surpassed that of the West.

Third, it demonstrated to the West that many countries are willing to maintain military cooperation with Russia. The Chinese state councilor and defense minister, as well as military industry representatives and international security experts attended the meeting. 

Opposing military hegemony 

Military hegemony reflects a superpower’s abuse of its military capacity to make other countries bow. As American historian Robert Kagan wrote in “The Return of History and The End of Dreams,” misdeeds run through the entire history of the United States. U.S. foreign policy has many characteristics that are difficult to change, including the extreme preference for resolving international issues through force. No public opinion can constrain a superpower’s military actions. Even if a peace movement of enormous scale arises within the superpower, with protracted resistance — for example, the protests against the Vietnam War in the U.S., which lasted a decade — the military direction is hard to change. 

Military hegemony has an extremely negative influence on world peace and, in particular, on China’s development. In his Moscow speech, Chinese State Councilor and Defense Minister Li Shangfu said the Global Security Initiative proposed by China has received a positive response from the international community. Security and development are every country’s inherent basic rights, not special privileges. For a more just world, we need to unite to boycott policies that condone force. For a safer world, we need to support each other and boycott and oppose military hegemony that interferes with other countries’ affairs. 

Sergei Naryshkin, director of the Russian Foreign Intelligence Service, pointed his finger at the U.S., saying in his speech that American elites have always lived in a rainbow kingdom known only to themselves — a kingdom in which the United States continues to rule this planet as a indisputable military, economic and spiritual authority, with exclusive power to supervise and punish. 

Common stance 

Russia and China share the same stance on rejecting and resisting military hegemony. Russian President Vladimir Putin stated at the meeting that NATO members mount pressure on others using both military and non-military means. The U.S., in particular, attempts to re-integrate state-to-state relations in the Asia-Pacific under conditions it deems appropriate. In fact, the endeavors to promote its so-called Indo-Pacific Strategy are aimed at creating U.S.-led military and political camps.

Russia and China also have taken similar routes in fighting military hegemony. The Chinese stance is to carry out multilateral security cooperation with individual countries, as well as international and regional organizations under the Global Security Initiative, following the principle of openness and inclusiveness, and actively promotes the dovetailing of security ideas with the integration of interests.

The Russian side emphasized that it will continue supporting a multipolar world order based on national sovereignty and equality, creative cooperation and trust that prioritizes rules of international law. To highlight the two countries’ common resolve to fight military hegemony, the Russian Defense Minister stressed during a working meeting with his Chinese counterpart that Russia and China are strategic partners, good neighbors and loyal friends. 

Chinese military diplomacy 

Although the current international order has given rise to military hegemony, China has no intention of breaking up or rebuilding it. Instead, China would lead the international community to work together to shape a new international order that is more just and reasonable. In that vein, the Chinese side at the Moscow conference proposed the deepening of all-around pragmatic cooperation with all countries’ militaries in implementing the Global Security Initiative. The specific plan unfolds as follows:

• First, continuously strengthen strategic confidence in military security on the basis of non-alignment, non-confrontation, and not targeting third parties. China has carried out military exchanges with 158 countries, and will continue enhancing exchanges and cooperation with foreign militaries.

• Second, further promote platform-building for cooperation in security fields. Continue supporting and actively participating in various security dialogue mechanisms on the basis of the more than 50 existing security cooperation mechanisms.

• Third, continue consolidating pragmatic collaboration in security-related areas, while deepening cooperation in such realms as military technology, equipment, logistics, anti-terror, military education, military aid, joint military drills and training.

Facing recent changes in international conditions, Chinese military diplomacy needs to learn to play an international role that it has never played before — that is to coexist and interact with other powers, while rejecting and fighting military hegemony. By proactively implementing the Global Security Initiative, the Chinese military has illustrated the pragmatism, flexibility and prudence of Chinese military diplomacy. It is preserving world peace through its own practical moves. 

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