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Global Security Initiative

Published May 5, 2022

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Paul Tembe

As the world teeters on the brink of nuclear Armageddon, in a third decade of the 21st

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century, it is worth remembering the prophetic warning by the pacifist physicist, Albert

Einstein. He is on record cautioning future generations that, “I know not with what weapons

World War III will be fought, but World War IV will be fought with sticks and stones”.

Based on evidence of things seen and unfolding in the Russia-Ukraine war, quite clearly

those countries and regional blocs stoking this war, by shipping gargantuan armaments have

ignored Einstein’s warning.

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The destruction and devastation unleashed by this war are evident. Reuters informs us, by

estimates from 30 April, that this war has claimed more than 46-thousand lives, displaced 13

million Ukrainians and property damage runs into $565 billion. It is also obvious that the

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countries and regional blocs inflaming this war have not learned the tragic lessons from Iraq,

Afghanistan, and Libya where brave efforts are underway to rebuild lives and livelihoods.

In this global maelstrom of chaos and insecurity, what has informed the unequivocal policy

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stance of the People’s Republic of China (PRC) in pursuing of non-interference and refusing

to either condemn or impose sanctions on other countries? At the recently hosted Boao

Forum for Asia, President Xi Jinping elaborated on the PRC’s policy and practice, in

international affairs, of a Global Security Initiative (GSI). As the primary initiator and

implementor of GSI, the PRC’s objectives are to advocate for a “common, comprehensive,

cooperative and sustainable security” architecture to “jointly safeguard world peace and

security”.

What does this mean and entail in actual practice? To date, China has become the United

Nation’s (UN) second largest peacekeeping contributor by deploying 2,000 peacekeepers in

eight UN missions. The UN Peace and Development Fund with a $100 million initial

investment that is benefiting 10 countries and regions. This contrast with the $4 billion the

United States (US) has sent in military assistance to Ukraine and a $33 billion being

requested in Congress for more military aid packages.

One wonders what happened between the description, in his electoral campaign, of President

Joe Biden as a progressive and “transformative leader”, and the current actual incumbent of

the White House who has continued the warmongering practices of his predecessors in for

example Iran, Cuba, and Yemen. He is described as such since war-by-sanctions have a

devastating toll on lives and livelihoods since sanctions affect, not the leaders per se, but

ordinary people. Therefore, the PRC’s role in seeking to secure world peace and security is

commendable as seen in China’s peacekeepers, mainly deployed in Africa, and cumulatively

now numbering 30,000 who have served in 17 missions.

Most African countries are amenable to the GSI since it builds on the strategic largesse that

China demonstrated in the battle against the Covid-19 health and economic pandemic where

China provided over 2.1 billion vaccines to 120 countries and organisations plus has

committed to follow with donations of 600 million and 150 million doses for the African

Continent and ASEAN countries respectively in order, ultimately, to close the global

immunity gap. As stated by President Xi, this is a prime example of China “honouring its

commitments with concrete action” because, quite simply, “uneven recovery is aggravating

inequality across the world, further widening the North-South divide”.

In essence then, the GSI is premised on the following normative principles that should be of

interest to those dedicated in the cause for, and of, pursuing at whatever cost global peace and

security.

First, that peace is a prerequisite for human and societal development more so in the context

of trying to build back better after the Covid-19 new normal. Peace and development are

interconnected in the defence of people’s lives and livelihoods and in promotion of common

goods.

Second, cooperation and solidarity are necessary to keep afloat and stable trade, industrial

and supply chains acutely disrupted by both the Russia-Ukraine war and Covid-19. Such

worldwide solidarity runs counter and is intrinsically opposed to unilateralism and a Cold

War 2.0 mentality where countries are divided between those who support continuation of

war in Russia-Ukraine (largely western liberal democracies) and those favouring dialogue

and diplomacy (largely non-western countries).

Third, the GSI led by China is a sensible option since experience has taught us that each

country must recognise the sovereignty and territorial integrity of other countries in deference

for upholding the UN Charter. What will bring about peace and security are principles and

practices of mutual respect, mutual benefit and mutual learning.

We do well to recall the human toll paid after World War I and World War II which resulted

in 20 million deaths in the former and 70 million in the latter. Of course, the earthly toll of a

nuclear war, would result in a total devastation of the human species. Why then does the US

and European Union dedicated in toto to stoke up the Russia-Ukraine war in the foolhardy

pursuit of “weakening” Russia and indirectly isolate China? This is a reason why the

Republic of South Africa has selected a policy of “non-alignment” in this war and instead is

campaigning, like Brazil and India (BRICS members) in promoting and emphasising

multilateralism instead of unilateralism, cooperation instead of confrontation, win-win

outcomes rather than a zero-sum game.

This stance by RSA and the PRC in their active endorsement of GSI echoes to some extent

the Non-Aligned Movement representing 120 member countries from the Global South who

were opposed to Cold War 1.0, imperialism and colonialism that is being echoed, presently,

by the Biden-led US and EU whose record of destabilisation, warmongering, sanctions,

subjective condemnation threatens the very survival of the human species.

The truism is relevant that, “it is not in numbers, but in unity, that our great strength lies”.

One hopes that the leaders in Washington, London and Brussels will heed this truism to avoid

being bullies and hegemons battling, in Sisyphean fashion, the inescapable reality of a

multipolar world where each country and region is recognised and recognised for what it

contributes to the storehouse of collective human civilisation.

Tembe is a Sinologist and founder of SELE Encounters.

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