Beijing moves to boost forum's role to counter US influence
President's call at Shanghai conference shows Beijing placing new emphasis on regional ties to counter US influence, analysts say
China is hoping a regional forum held in Shanghai this week can be used to strengthen its security role in Asia and counter US influence in the region, analysts say.
President Xi Jinping told forum delegates that military alliances targeting a specific nation were not conducive to regional security.
A new security cooperation system should be established, one maintained by Asians, although stakeholders from other parts of the world were welcomed, he said.
Xi made the pledge at the Conference on Interaction and Confidence Building Measures in Asia (CICA), which ended on Wednesday.
"It shows that China recognises the importance of regional relationships, even though the US is still the main focus of China's foreign policy," said Raffaello Pantucci, a senior research fellow with the Royal United Services Institute in London.
"China is more aware that having good relationships in the region is crucial for the nation to continue to grow."
Beijing exerts some influence over regional security through the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation. But the CICA has been a relatively obscure forum until recently.
Zhang Jianrong, a Russian specialist at the Shanghai Academy of Social Sciences, said Beijing was stepping up its engagement in the region. It has already pledged to support reconstruction in Afghanistan and to develop a "S ilk Road economic belt" to help maintain regional stability.
CICA's 26 members include Russia, India, Iran and Vietnam. The US, Japan and the Philippines are among its seven observers.
China and Russia vowed on the sidelines of the forum to oppose foreign interference in other countries' domestic affairs, the use of unilateral sanctions and attempts to "falsify the history" of the second world war.
Ni Lexiong, a military affairs commentator, said Xi intended to convey that Beijing would not form an alliance with Moscow. "The meaning is that China itself has not formed any alliance, so there should be no other new alliances too," Ni said.