China's president delivers cryptic address calling for 'global security initiative'

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Chinese President Xi Jinping has delivered a somewhat foreboding video address proposing a "global security initiative", in a cryptic yet pointed message to the US, Australia and the West.

In it, the Chinese leader touted the principle of "indivisible security", a concept also endorsed by Russia.

While not giving details about how that principle would be implemented, it was the latest explicit sign that China is seeking to reshape the global order to diminish the influence of the United States and its allies.

"To promote security for all in the world, China would like to propose a Global Security Initiative as follows," Xi said while speaking at the annual Boao Asia Forum.

He then laid out a vision aimed largely at dismantling the US-led global order since World War II.

A screen shows Chinese President Xi Jinping delivering a keynote speech on April 21.
A screen shows Chinese President Xi Jinping delivering a keynote speech on April 21. Source: Reuters

The president called for nations to "stay committed to respecting the sovereignty and territorial integrity of all countries, uphold non-interference in internal affairs, and respect the independent choices of development paths and social systems made by people in different countries".

He also called for countries to "reject the Cold War mentality, oppose unilateralism, and say no to group politics and bloc confrontation" – a pointed dig at the likes of NATO and the recently formed Quad Alliance between the US, Australia, India and Japan.

Xi also said China will "reject double standards, and oppose the wanton use of unilateral sanctions and long-arm jurisdiction", alluding to the use of sanctions deployed by the US and its allies against Russia.

China 'parroting' Kremlin language, US says

Reacting to the speech in his China-focused newsletter, author and China watcher Bill Bishop said it was particularly "noteworthy" Xi mentioned "indivisible security" on two occasions during the address.

"Anyone still hoping there are signs of daylight between Xi and Putin will be disappointed," he wrote.

In talks over Ukraine, Russia has insisted that Western governments respect 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 increasingly close with China refusing to condemn Russia bloody invasion of Ukraine.

Russian President Vladimir Putin holds talks with Chinese President Xi Jinping via a video link back in December 2021.
Russian President Vladimir Putin holds talks with Chinese President Xi Jinping via a video link back in December 2021. Source: Reuters

US will defend global order against those who 'seek to destroy' it

State Department spokesperson Ned Price, responding to a question about Xi's speech at a regular briefing in Washington, said China continued to "parrot some of what we have heard coming from the Kremlin".

Mr Price reiterated that China would face serious consequences if it gave material support for Russia's war effort in Ukraine, but that Washington had not yet seen Beijing provide that kind of assistance to Moscow.

The US is promising to continue to uphold the rules-based international system it had built with like-minded partners based on respect for human rights, sovereignty, and self-determination, Mr Price said.

"We are committed to upholding the various systems that certain countries around the world – and Russia and the PRC are among them - seek to challenge, and in certain instances, seek to tear down and even destroy," he said.

Analysts noted that it was the first time China has argued for "indivisible security" outside the context of the Russia-Ukraine crisis, with implications on potential US actions in Asia.

"If China deems actions by US and its allies on Taiwan or the South China Sea as disregarding its security concerns, it could evoke the concept of 'indivisible security' to claim the moral high ground in retaliation," said Li Mingjiang, associate professor at the School of International Studies in Singapore.

Just days after officially signing a security agreement in Australia's region, China, it seems, continues to lay its cards on the table.

with Reuters

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