There’s an old Chinese saying: “If you bond together for profit, when the profits stop the relationship ends. If you bond together for power, when the power stops the relationship ends. Only when you bond together with a true heart can a relationship truly last.”
The Belt and Road Initiative, with its focus on five kinds of connectivity – policy communication, infrastructure connectivity, trade links, capital flow and understanding among peoples – bonds together more than 60 countries in Asia, Europe and Africa to work for a community of shared benefits, destiny and responsibility by enhancing mutual political trust, economic integration and cultural inclusiveness.
People in Asia have a shared history of weal and woe. Sixty years ago, they shook off western colonial rule and embarked on a path of independent development. Today they are committed to achieving common development and prosperity promoted by the Belt and Road blueprint connecting countries in Asia with Europe and Africa.
Chinese President Xi Jinping summarized “sharing weal and woe” as the spirit that can build a community of shared destiny. He stressed firstly respect and equality for each and every country, secondly win-win cooperation and common development, thirdly a common, comprehensive, cooperative and sustainable security and finally enhanced inclusiveness and exchanges between cultures. In other words, the Belt and Road Initiative will serve as a role model for building a community of shared destiny in Asia and for strengthening connectivity between China and surrounding Asian countries.
With construction of the Belt and Road and Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, a grand blueprint has gradually emerged that aims at easing political conflicts and disputes. China today faces the more crucial issue of advancing and implementing that initiative, which depends on how well the country handles its relations with countries along the routes. The initiative and the bank signify China’s unswerving commitment to peaceful development, working to enhance mutual political trust with these countries and boosting their regional security and stability.
Of course there will be security challenges that may well compromise mutual political trust. Firstly, there are the traditional security challenges including geopolitical conflicts and disputes over territorial and maritime rights. These issues have been complicated and intensified by the US strategy of rebalancing to Asia. Secondly, there are the non-traditional challenges. They include what Chinese call “the three forces”: terrorism, separatist and extremism, and disputes over resources. Asia lacks an effective security organization. Asia’s security frameworks overlap and social instability is common throughout the region.
With the theme “Asia in the next decade: security and development,” the first annual non-governmental forum conference of the Conference on Interaction and Confidence Building Measures in Asia (CICA) was held in Beijing May 25-26. Proposed by President Xi in Shanghai last year at the fourth CICA summit, the conference could not have come at a better time.
In a greeting letter to the conference, Xi stressed again that Asian countries must seek a common, comprehensive, cooperative and sustainable security as well as building a new regional security and cooperation framework. To achieve win-win results for all parties, he called on Asian countries to enhance cooperation within the region and devote themselves to cooperating with countries outside the region, and with international organizations.
Stability in China and surrounding countries is a lifeline for the country, a foundation for its development and prosperity. China’s development is facilitating development of the whole region. Without the Asia rising as a whole, China’s rise is unsustainable. The Belt and Road Initiative upholds the idea of security through development and development through security. Carried out smoothly, the initiative will surely boost common security and prosperity in the region by putting into practice a new security concept for Asia: common, comprehensive, cooperative and sustainable security.
(Wang Yiwei is a director at Institute of International Affairs, Renmin University of China. This article has been originally published in http://english.cntv.cn/2015/05/27/ARTI1432712963928606.shtml)