Xi Jinping Pushes China's Own Vision for 'Global Security'

Chinese leader Xi Jinping has articulated plans to reshape the international order in his country's favor on the back of the war in Ukraine, proposing on Thursday a "global security initiative" that he suggests will prevent future conflicts.

Russia's standoff with the West has become a proxy battle of political systems and ideologies in the eyes of leaders in Beijing. China leaning toward Russia—both before and after the invasion—and its vocal backing of Moscow's concerns regarding NATO expansion are reflective of its own long-standing anxieties about U.S.-led containment efforts in Asia.

In a virtual address at the annual Boao Forum for Asia, the Davos-like gathering in southern China, Xi combined months of diplomatic language into a new model for a more secure world order, one in which Chinese interests have room to grow.

"Right now, changes of the world, of our times and of history are unfolding in ways like never before," he said. "We have yet to walk from the shadow of a once-in-a-century pandemic, but new traditional security risks are already emerging."

"We humanity are living in an indivisible security community," said the general secretary of the Chinese Communist Party. "It has been proven time and again that the Cold War mentality would only wreck the global peace framework, that hegemonism and power politics would only endanger world peace, and that bloc confrontation would only exacerbate security challenges in the 21st century."

Xi's six-point initiative included a familiar call for "sustainable security," upholding sovereignty, territorial integrity and non-interference in internal affairs, as well as a respect for the policy choices of every nation, based on its unique socio-political system.

'Cold War Mentality'

China's president invoked the UN Charter, and again called on all countries to "reject the Cold War mentality, oppose unilateralism and say no to group politics and bloc confrontation," a reference to NATO and other military alliances Beijing sees as consolidating in the East.

In a renewed emphasis on Russia's "legitimate security concerns," he said the principle of indivisible security meant opposing "the pursuit of one's own security at the cost of others' security."

Repeating Beijing's position in favor of dialogue over military aid for Ukraine and financial punishment against Russia, Xi criticized the "wanton use of unilateral sanctions and long-arm jurisdiction," in another response to America's threat of secondary sanctions.

The united West, now increasingly at odds with a developing world that's hesitant to openly pick sides, is considering ways to further isolate Vladimir Putin. U.S. and European officials are said to be assessing ways to exclude Russia from the G20, or boycott the event themselves.

Xi dismissed the thinking in his Boao address, pushing back against economic decoupling and Russia's removal from "global governance challenges."

"Countries around the world are like passengers aboard the same ship who share the same destiny," he said. "The thought of throwing anyone overboard is simply not acceptable."

"In today's world, unilateralism and excessive pursuit of self-interest are doomed to fail; so are the practices of decoupling, supply disruption and maximum pressure; so are the attempts to forge 'small cliques' or to stoke conflict and confrontation along ideological lines," Xi said.

Russia's current predicament means it would benefit greatly under the umbrella of China's proposal for a new type of international relations. However, Xi's remarks were very much part of Beijing's wider rivalry with the West in general and the U.S. in particular.

A failure to secure Putin's place in the existing world order could threaten Xi's own position in the future. The staunch Western response to Russia's invasion of Ukraine makes possible a similar reaction to conflict involving China in Asia, triggered by a number of potential flashpoints in the East and South China Seas, on the Korean Peninsula, or across the Taiwan Strait.

Xi Jinping Proposes New Global Security Plans
Chinese President Xi Jinping attends a ceremony to honor contributors to the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics and Paralympics at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing on April 8, 2022. Addressing the annual Boao Forum for Asia on April 21, Xi proposed a new “global security initiative” to reshape the postwar security order in China’s favor. Kevin Frayer/Getty Images