Xi calls for 'Asian people to uphold Asia's security' as he aims to sideline US

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 21 May, 2014, 4:43pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 21 May, 2014, 5:46pm

President Xi Jinping issued a warning against the build-up of military alliances in Asia as he called for a new security cooperation structure to boost China's security involvement in the region.

Xi said China welcomed nations from other regions being involved in Asian security, but he said the task should be mainly handled by Asian people – a remark widely seen as an attempt to minimise Washington's influence.

Xi was speaking to leaders and representatives from 47 countries and international organizations attending the Conference on Interaction and Confidence Building Measures in Asia (CICA), a previously little-known group founded by Kazakhstan President Nursultan Nazarbayev in 1992 but is given weight this year as Beijing is trying to extend its regional influence.

Without naming any country, Xi said countries in the region should accommodate each others security concerns and refrain from “seeking the so-called absolute security of themselves at the expense of others.”

Without naming any country, Xi said countries in the region should accommodate each others’ security concerns and refrain from “seeking the so-called absolute security of themselves at the expense of others.”

“Beefing up military alliances targeting a third party is not conducive to maintaining common regional security,” Xi told the group, which includes Russia and Iran.

“No nation should try to dominate regional security affairs, or infringe upon the legitimate rights of other countries,” Xi said, adding the principle of territorial sovereignty and non-interference in other nation’s domestic affairs should be protected.

Xi made no mention of the tensions between Beijing and its neighbours, but Beijing earlier expressed dismay at the US’s security alliances with Asian countries, especially after Washington said a cluster of islands at the centre of a Sino-Japan dispute is covered by a security treaty between Washington and Tokyo. US has also criticised China for being provocative in separate disputes over the South China Sea.

In remarks that signified Beijing’s desire to counter Washington’s influence, Xi said it is for the “Asian people to uphold Asia’s security”.

He said a new regional security cooperation framework was necessary, and China will expand the scope and influence of CICA, of which the US is only an observer.

China proposes making the CICA a security dialogue and cooperation platform that covers the whole of Asia, and exploring the establishment of a defence dialogue among member states, along with more regular meetings among foreign ministers of the member states, Xi added.

The regional forum was overshadowed by tensions between China and Vietnam that have escalated with both nations saying their ships in the disputed South China Sea have been ramming each other. The confrontation follows China’s establishment of an oil rig in the Paracel Islands, which was described as “aggressive” by US Secretary of State John Kerry.

Xi said China will resolve territorial disputes peacefully, but added that China is against any attempt by a single country to dominate regional security affairs and “infringe upon the legitimate rights of other countries.”

China opposes “provocation and escalation of tensions for selfish gains and rejects the practice of shifting trouble to neighbours”.