xi's moments
Home | Europe

Asian regional cooperation highlighted at security meeting

Nations should engage in negotiations or seek consultation amid conflict, former diplomat says

By CHEN WEIHUA in Munich | China Daily Global | Updated: 2024-02-20 09:41

Former Chinese vice-foreign minister Fu Ying (left) speaks at a panel discussion during the 60th Munich Security Conference on Saturday. CHINA DAILY

Veteran Chinese diplomat Fu Ying hopes that people will learn to appreciate the long-standing peace in Asia.

A former vice-foreign minister, Fu was speaking at the 60th Munich Security Conference on Saturday in a panel discussion themed "Shoring up Defense: Security in the Indo-Pacific". The other panelists were Sri Lankan Foreign Minister Ali Sabry, United States Senator Ben Cardin and German Social Democratic Party Co-Chair Lars Klingbeil.

Fu said there has been stability and great economic progress over the past decades in Asia, where the GDP put together accounts for 40 percent of the world's total, compared with just 15 percent in the 1990s.

She credited the Association of Southeast Asian Nations for playing a key role in leading regional cooperation.

The process started with a lot of mistrust, she said, but honest discussions over the years have helped boost trust and economic cooperation.

"We grew into the habit of discussing the differences in the corridor. We even created retreats," Fu said, while describing the Asian way of resolving differences. She added that she got to witness the whole process as it started in the years when she was still a young diplomat.

"So the result now is that in the region, there is a basic consensus about common security," she told the audience at the Munich conference, where the conflicts between Russia and Ukraine and between Israel and Palestine topped the three-day agenda.

Fu emphasized that there is a strong sense of common security in Asia.

Every country is entitled to defend its security and to protect its interests, she said. But when their interests clash, countries should engage in negotiations or seek consultations to avoid conflict.

On differences that are hard to resolve, such as territorial disputes, Fu said countries have been able to keep the differences aside while continuing to discuss their cooperation on other fronts.

Regarding South China Sea maritime territorial disputes, Fu said China and ASEAN members have managed to reach the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea.

"We are discussing the COC," she said, referring to the South China Sea Code of Conduct.

Fu dismissed concerns about freedom of navigation in the South China Sea.

While shipping safety in the Red Sea is about civilian ships, the freedom of navigation people talked about is not about commercial ships, but US military vessels that want to go anywhere they choose, she said.

"If you want to know the safety of civilian navigation in the South China Sea, you could very well check with the shipping industry. The (insurance) premium doesn't go up, never goes up because of the tension in the South China Sea.

"Freedom of navigation of civilian ships has never been a problem. So it's just an excuse."

China opposes the small, exclusive security groups because they not only target China but also undermine regional common security, she said.

"I don't think it's helpful for regional stability," she said.

It is "very dangerous" for some people to try to link Taiwan with Ukraine, she said, describing them as "two entirely different" situations.

The Taiwan question is China's internal affair, she said, and the Anti-Secession Law states China's position that it will try the utmost to achieve peaceful reunification, which is the best for the people on the two sides.

However, the government reserves the right to resort to nonpeaceful means and other necessary measures to protect China's sovereignty and territorial integrity in the event of "Taiwan independence", or if major incidents entailing Taiwan's secession from China should occur, or if possibilities for a peaceful reunification should be exhausted.

"So there is a law there," she said.

Fu added that many in Asia want to understand what attracted the US back to Asia after it spent 20 years on transforming post-Cold War Eastern Europe and then about another 20 years on war on terror.

"I think the attraction is success of the region, including China's success," she said.

"Instead of joining the regional peaceful development, the concern is that the US may reverse the trend of peaceful cooperation and progress — that's the concern for the region."

Many countries in the region have said that they prefer not to choose sides, she added.

She highlighted Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi's talk at the security conference on Saturday, when Wang talked about how China is going to play a stabilizing role in the world.

"You could see the intention on the part of China to share the regional experience," Fu said, adding that the China-proposed Global Security Initiative very well sums up the Asian experience and Asian sense of common security.

Global Edition
Copyright 1995 - . All rights reserved. The content (including but not limited to text, photo, multimedia information, etc) published in this site belongs to China Daily Information Co (CDIC). Without written authorization from CDIC, such content shall not be republished or used in any form. Note: Browsers with 1024*768 or higher resolution are suggested for this site.
License for publishing multimedia online 0108263

Registration Number: 130349