What Does China's 'New Asian Security Concept' Mean for the US?
A closer look at China’s vision for remaking Asian security, and what the United States can do about it. In October, China hosted the seventh Xiangshan Forum in Beijing, during which Vice Foreign Minister Liu Zhenmin outlined a framework for a regional security architecture to meet the emerging challenges and opportunities of the 21st century.
Liu’s comments did not represent fresh thinking; he rather expanded upon an existing Chinese concept. Chinese strategists, pundits, academia, and government officials had discussed such an architecture among themselves for years until President Xi Jinping publicized what he called the “New Asian Security Concept” during the fourth Summit of the Conference on Interaction and Confidence Building Measures in Asia (CICA) in May 2014. A year later, the concept was raised again in the 2015 Defense White Paper. Most recently, China outlined its views in a white paper on “Asia-Pacific Security Cooperation.”
China’s concept was subjected to a considerable amount of analysis and commentary post-Xiangshan, notably by Dr. Alice Ekman and Prashanth Parameswaran. Ekman contends that Beijing has an unfolding plan for a new regional security architecture not based on any formal alliance system, but rather on weaving together a tighter web of existing organizations and entities and bending them toward Beijing’s desired strategic ends. Parameswaran argues that Beijing’s proposal has merits that deserve serious consideration and thus should not be rejected by the United States and others out-of-hand; however, Beijing needs to adjust its message to assuage the concerns of both Washington and regional neighbors who see benefit in a continued active role of the United States in Asian security. These countries clearly hope not to be forced to choose between U.S. security assistance and China-funded economic development.