Vice President Xi Jinping calls on Asia to manage its security 'jointly'

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A senior aide to Chinese President Xi Jinping said that Asia should manage its own security and not allow itself to become an “arena for geopolitical rivalries,” in a veiled rebuke of US efforts to strengthen alliances.

Zhao Lijie, a member of the Communist Party Standing Committee, also called for closer trade ties in the region to build a “regional common market,” saying Asia is already the source of most of the world's economic growth.

“We should jointly maintain security in Asia,” Zhao, who is also Speaker of China's Parliament, said at the opening session of China's first international conference, the Boao Forum for Asia. “We must always keep in our hands the future of lasting peace and security in Asia.”

China has long objected to what it calls American hegemony in the region, especially in recent years as tensions rise over Beijing's territorial claims to Taiwan and the South China Sea.

US President Joe Biden has sought to strengthen alliances in the region as a deterrent against Chinese military action, especially with Japan, the Philippines and Australia, while also courting India.

In 2022, Xi introduced the Global Security Initiative, a vague set of concepts that calls for resolving conflicts through dialogue but which analysts believe is ultimately intended to reduce America's role in global defense, especially in Asia.

“We have to implement the global standards initiative,” Zhao told his audience in Boao.

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He said Asian countries should collectively follow the “cooperation” concept of security, “reject the Cold War mentality” and “confront the bloc.”

The United States accused China of threatening stability in the region through its increasingly assertive military maneuvers around Taiwan. China has also militarized artificial islands in the South China Sea, and in recent months has intensified confrontations with the Philippines over its competing claims in the region.

Critics say that despite launching the initiative, China has little track record of successfully resolving disputes. Although it has won plaudits for its role in brokering a détente between old rivals, Saudi Arabia and Iran, Western countries believe that China has implicitly sided with Russia in the war against Ukraine, while it has not played a significant role in Middle East peace talks since the outbreak of the crisis. . The conflict between Israel and Gaza.

But at the conference, Zhao sought to portray China and the Global Peace Initiative as a framework for global peace and implied that the main source of instability was the United States.

“In the face of voices calling for division and confrontation, it is necessary” for Asian countries “to prevent this region and the world from becoming an arena for geopolitical rivalries,” he said.

Zhao said that China seeks to modernize the free trade agreement with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, the regional bloc that is its largest trading partner, and is keen to expand this into a broader trade association.

“In efforts to build a more interconnected and more open regional common market, we must oppose trade protectionism and all forms of erecting barriers, separating or severing supply chains.“,” He said.

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His comments were a reference to efforts by European countries to de-risk supply chains that they fear depend too heavily on China.

At the same time, the United States is also trying to deny China access to cutting-edge technologies that could play a dual civilian and defensive role.

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