May 21, 2014
China's president called Tuesday for the creation of a new Asian structure
for security cooperation based on a regional group that includes Russia
and Iran and excludes the United States.
President Xi Jinping spoke at a meeting in Shanghai of the
Conference on Interaction and Confidence-building measures in Asia (CICA),
an obscure group that has taken on significance as Beijing tries to extend
its influence and limit the role of the United States, which it sees as a
"We need to innovate our security
cooperation (and) establish new regional security cooperation
architecture," said Xi, speaking to an audience that included President
Vladimir Putin of Russia and leaders of Central Asian countries.
Xi made no mention of Beijing's conflict with
Vietnam over the deployment of a Chinese oil rig in a disputed portion of
the South China Sea.
24 member nations also include Korea,
Thailand and Turkey, should become a,
"security dialogue and cooperation platform"
and should "establish a defense consultation mechanism," Xi said.
He said it should create a "security response
center" for major emergencies.
The proposal marks the latest effort by Beijing to build up groups of Asian
or developing governments to offset the influence of the United States and
other Western governments in global affairs.
In 2001, it founded the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO)
with Russia and four Central Asia nations to counterbalance rising American
influence in the region and to combat Islamic and separatist political
Beijing also is a force in
the BRICS group of major developing
countries with Russia, India, Brazil and South Africa.
Beijing sees common cause with other CICA members such as Russia and Sri
Lanka in promoting a political model that pairs autocratic government with a
market-oriented economy in defiance of the Western liberal democratic model.
CICA was formed in 1992 at the initiative of Kazakhstan but has been little
more than a discussion forum. Other members include U.S. allies such as
Israel, Mongolia and Uzbekistan. Japan, seen by Beijing as a strategic
rival, is an observer.
The group is unlikely to produce a real security alliance, said Ross
Babbage, chairman of Australia's Kokoda Foundation, a security think
"Alliances are not based on a piece of
paper. They're the result of real trust and interaction," he said.
"There may be some agreements ahead, but in reality, I don't see an
However, Babbage said Putin's presence at
the meeting was significant for China-Russia relations at a time when both
are diplomatically isolated - Russia over Ukraine and China over its
territorial disputes and U.S. accusations of cyber spying.
Both Putin and Xi are grappling with economic and political challenges and
being assertive abroad can help to build nationalist support at home,
"There's an interesting synergy from shared
circumstances, with large parts of the world lining up against them and
expressing strong concerns over their behavior," he said.
China is embroiled in conflicts with Japan over
the East China Sea and with Vietnam and other Southeast Asian countries over
conflicting claims to portions of the South China Sea.
Washington has complained China is being provocative.
Beijing says the
administration's effort to shift foreign policy emphasis toward
Asia and expand its military presence in the region is emboldening Japan and
other neighbors and fueling tension.
Xi said Asian nations need to respond collectively to mounting problems
"We should have zero tolerance for
terrorism, separatism and extremism and should strengthen international
cooperation and step up the fight against the 'three forces'," he said.