27.03.2023 Author: Vladimir Terehov

The Chinese leader’s new “Global Security Initiative” and the latest AUKUS summit


On March 15, two days after the conclusion of China’s annual “Two Sessions”, Xinhua News Agency reported an equally remarkable event that was in fact a continuation of the previous one.

The Chinese Communist Party officials hosted a video conference, which was titled “Path towards Modernization: The Responsibility of Political Parties,” in which the Chinese President introduced the Global Civilization Initiative, while speaking to a number of overseas colleagues. It should immediately be noted that it is in complete accordance with the original idea of creating a “Community of One Destiny,” which was advanced by the same Chinese leader in late 2012 – early 2013 when he became the country’s top official.

The mere existence of this event, its main theme, and the Chinese President’s vision of key global problems and approaches to their resolution must surely draw attention. Specifically, the Chinese leader’s words about the substantive aspect of “Modernization” itself, in the center of which the individual with his concerns and problems, living anywhere in the world, is placed. And this at a time when entire peoples are viewed as commodities in global political bargaining, and sometimes simply cannon fodder.

Meanwhile, the category of “Inclusiveness,” which implies participation by all countries and peoples, regardless of their domestic and foreign political characteristics and preferences, is central to the Chinese leader’s Initiative. Because of its semantic content, a Global Times commentator, was able to compare it to other, once popular global concepts. For example, the one implying the inevitability of the “Clash of Civilizations.” According to the author of the aforementioned commentary, this latter concept (based on the thesis that “the hatred and estrangement among different civilizations” cannot be eradicated), as well as other similar concepts, serve to interfere with the organization of mutually beneficial international cooperation.

Xi Jinping’s “Initiative” places an equal emphasis on respect for the civilizational diversity. This once served as justification for China’s own path to “modernization.” In turn, it corresponds to the Chinese Communist Party’s original ideological concept of “Building a Socialism with Chinese characteristics.” Last year’s 20 th Chinese Communist Party (CCP) Congress, followed by the aforementioned Two Sessions, falls within this concept.

However, noting that the ongoing “modernization” is “rooted in the Chinese national tradition,” the PRC leader cited other countries’ experiences. He believes that this could aid in the development of the latter.

According to Xinhua News Agency, Cyril Ramaphosa, President of South Africa and the president of the African National Congress participated in the video conference, along with 500 party representatives from 150 countries. The latter expressed their highest regard for the Chinese leader’s Initiative.

However, while “the world is full of kind people,” there are those who are difficult to categorize as such. This, in fact, is the root of all global turmoils. It is especially doubtful that the leaders of the AUKUS member countries who gathered in San Diego, California, USA (exactly at the same time as the Chinese President was presenting his “Initiative”) can be qualified in this way.

Note the fact that AUKUS is commonly defined as a “military-political alliance uniting Anglo-Saxon countries.” There appears to be little justification in this definition for using almost all of the words which has already been discussed in the NEO. The choice of San Diego for the AUKUS summit was not accidental, since this city is the headquarters of the US Indo-Pacific Command, which includes the largest group of the US Navy. And the “naval theme” was the primary reason for the event under discussion (as, indeed, the very fact of the formation of AUKUS). Not even “naval” in general, but specifically “nuclear submarine-related.”

According to the Joint Statement of the meeting’s participants, there was no indication of the possibility of expanding AUKUS competence beyond the initial, narrowly specific business project Tobias Ellwood, the chair of UK’s defense select committee, suggested the AUKUS agreement expand to include India and Japan two months before the San Diego summit, but his suggestion was not reflected in the mentioned document.

As for declarations of readiness to “protect freedom of navigation in the Indo-Pacific region shoulder to shoulder,” this can also be done within the framework of long-standing bilateral agreements in the US-Australia-UK triangle.

That is, nothing has been added to the actual original goals of AUKUS, coming from the US and UK, which was (approximately): “To take control of the process of equipping the Australian Navy with new submarines from France.” The Chinese Global Times has captured this goal-setting in graphic images, as it always does.

Beijing’s reaction to the San Diego summit was predictable, both in general and in detail. Doubts have been raised, in particular, about compliance of the initiative for equipping the Australian Navy with American multi-purpose Virginia-class submarines and then building new submarines in the country, which will be developed by UK and US shipbuilding companies, with IAEA requirements. Notwithstanding this, the Joint Statement’s authors assert that said compliance is up to par.

It should also be noted that Anthony Albanese’s center-left government, which took power in Australia last May, intends to at least partially overcome the blockages in relations with China created (mostly in the final stages) by its center-right predecessors. That is, it appears that in relations with China, Anthony Albanese would gladly continue concentrating on extraordinarily lucrative sales of iron ore, coal, fossil fuels, sheep, grain, wine, and seafood to this country.

But once more, he is faced with challenges that appear to be difficult to conquer. In order to ensure that American Virginia-class submarines are stationed in Australian ports, purchase the identical ones for his own Navy, and subsequently construct further nuclear submarines, he will have to use the money well-earned through trade with China. Thus putting a completely superfluous test on the entire framework of Sino-Australian relations.

On the whole, the two events being hold practically simultaneously are the most obvious to demonstrate the cross-road that the major participants in the current stage of the Global Great Game are approaching.

Vladimir Terekhov, expert on the issues of the Asia-Pacific region, exclusively for the online journal “New Eastern Outlook.

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