Vladimir Putin spoke from Moscow, Joe Biden from Warsaw. Meanwhile, China is trying to rise above the contenders and present itself as the force that can guarantee peace and stability. Its strategy was to present the concept paper on the Global Security Initiative (GSI), a “starter course” for the coming “peace proposal” on Ukraine to be unveiled in the coming days. The GSI is the new “twin” project of the Belt and Road initiative, launched last year by Xi Jinping.
While the New Silk Road is focused primarily on trade, with the GSI China is positioning itself as a guarantor of stability, especially for the so-called “Global South.” It is no coincidence that several paragraphs of the text are devoted to Africa, Southeast Asia, the Pacific Islands and Latin America. “Today, our world, our times and history are changing in ways like never before, and the international community is confronted with multiple risks and challenges rarely seen before,” reads the document’s introduction.
The main threats identified by China are “unilateralism and protectionism,” sins that Beijing has long accused the United States of. The goal of the GSI is “to eliminate the roots at the cause of international conflicts.” How? By following a “holistic approach” in which a concept of “common security, respecting and safeguarding the security of every country” must be upheld. A phrase invoked by China repeatedly since the beginning of the war, and also applied to North Korea’s missile launches.
The implications are clear: Washington and the West cannot claim exclusive rights to “just” security that does not take into account the perspective of actors outside the norms of “liberal democracy.”
The concept paper also calls for respect for the sovereignty and territorial integrity of all countries, a principle that was praised and highlighted by Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba at a press conference with EU Foreign Policy High Representative Josep Borrell (who also said China has assured him that it would not send weapons to Moscow) and NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg (far more skeptical himself).
In another document published by the Foreign Ministry, which should be read as a complement to the GSI paper, China criticizes the “hegemonism” that the U.S. is allegedly continuing to pursue on several fronts: political, military, economic, technological and cultural. According to the Chinese perspective and rhetoric, this mindset represents the greatest risk to global stability. China reiterated its call not to “fuel the fire” of conflicts – which, according to Beijing, Joe Biden did with his trip to Kyiv and his harsh speech against Vladimir Putin delivered in Warsaw.
Presenting the GSI paper, Foreign Minister Qin Gang stressed China’s holistic view of global security, emphasizing that China’s development cannot take place without a stable international environment – and also that, conversely, there cannot be global security without security for China.
Hence the call for the international community to stop saying that Taiwan will be the next Ukraine. In Beijing’s view, the status quo across the Taiwan Strait is an internal matter on which there should be no interference. Nevertheless, on Tuesday Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen told a U.S. delegation that Taipei was strengthening its military ties with the United States.
Meanwhile, in Moscow, Wang Yi met with Russian Security Council Secretary Nikolai Patrushev. China’s top diplomat secured Russian support on Taiwan and Hong Kong. In turn, China has said it is essential that Russia not be humiliated (also in line with the words of Emmanuel Macron).
For Beijing, it is important to reach peace talks as soon as possible in order to preserve the balances and avoid the specter of Putin’s downfall, which would deprive Xi of a partner increasingly dependent on him and thus an asset that can be put to use on the political level. China’s fear, however, is that the US is willing to go all the way, thus dragging Beijing into the logic of bloc confrontation as well.