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  • M. Taylor Fravel

China’s Global Security Initiative at Two: A Journey, Not a Destination


M. Taylor Fravel CLM Issue 80 June 2024
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Xi Jinping speaking
Introduced in April 2022, China’s “Global Security Initiative” is now two years old. This essay takes stock of the GSI’s development since its introduction, examining and assessing how the GSI’s content has been fleshed out, how it has been received by other states, and how its implementation has progressed. To date, the GSI’s content remains vague and broad, most likely to increase support, pursue opportunistic implementation, and discredit the United States as a security actor. Formal support from other states, as reflected in including the GSI in joint documents, is limited. The GSI’s implementation has been uneven, especially in Asia, with few regional organizations offering unqualified support and or pursuing cooperation under the banner of the initiative. Looking ahead, the prospects for the GSI and its implementation are mixed.

Two years ago, in April 2022, Xi Jinping introduced the idea of a “Global Security Initiative” (全球安全倡议, or GSI) in his speech to the Boao Forum. The GSI is one of the “three major initiatives” (三大倡议) proposed by China that include also the Global Development Initiative (GDI), introduced in September 2021, and the Global Civilizational Initiative (GCI), introduced in March 2023. In September 2023, many of the GSI’s core elements were featured prominently in China’s proposal to reform global governance, and that fall, the GSI and the other global initiatives were officially incorporated into China’s “community of shared future” concept and thereafter identified as “strategic guidance” for realizing this shared future. In short, the GSI reflects China’s desire to put into action its ideas about global security challenges and governance.


This essay examines how the GSI has developed over the past two years. Analysts have described the GSI as a “campaign,” in the sense that its content and implementation will evolve over time as ideas crystallize and increased support is generated.[1] Enough time has now passed to assess the GSI’s development, focusing on several critical issues: 1.) how the GSI as a concept has been fleshed out and especially whether it has become sufficiently concrete and focused to serve as an action plan, 2.) how states have responded to the GSI and sought to support China’s initiatives regarding security governance, and 3.) how China has sought to implement the GSI by putting ideas into action.


In examining these issues, this essay advances several arguments. First, the content of the GSI remains vague and broad, though this appears to be intentional in order to facilitate increased support and opportunistic implementation. The most precise aspects of the GSI are its strident criticism of the United States and its alliances, as China seeks to discredit and delegitimate U.S. leadership and thus to open up space for Chinese alternatives and leadership. Second, the GSI’s reception by other states has been mixed, with largely limited official support for the idea and no specific components or areas of cooperation. Third, implementation has also been mixed. Although China-led dialogue mechanisms have been willing to embrace the GSI, many international and regional organizations have not, which highlights challenges China will face in using these platforms to disseminate and gain legitimacy for its ideas.


Of course, the GSI is still in its early days. But when compared with the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) and the GDI at similar stages, implementation has been slow. Nevertheless, the basic logic appears to be a modern, diplomatic version of Mao’s ideas about the strategy of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) during the Chinese revolution of “encircling the cities from the countryside.” That is, the purpose of the GSI could be described as “surrounding the hegemon from the periphery.” Rather than directly confronting the United States and its network of alliances, China will seek to build support in regions, organizations, and issues areas on the edges of U.S. influence to enhance China’s freedom of action and ultimately to constrain the United States.[2] Of course, this is a long-term process—the GSI is more of a journey than it is a destination.


The essay proceeds as follows. I start with an examination of how the GSI has developed since 2022, focusing on official documents and authoritative commentaries. Next, I highlight the clear counter-U.S. framing of the GSI, which seeks to discredit and delegitimate the United States as a security actor and as a source of peace and stability so as to highlight the appeal of China’s vision. I then discuss how countries have received and responded to the GSI before I turn to assessing the success of China’s efforts to implement the GSI as it is envisioned in its concept paper. I end with a brief discussion of future prospects for the GSI.


The GSI’s Conceptual Development Since 2022


After Xi Jinping’s 2022 Boao speech, the contents of the GSI were developed and fleshed out in several official documents and speeches. The most important include an April 2022 essay by Foreign Minister Wang Yi in People’s Daily,[3] a February 2023 concept paper published by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA),[4] and speeches on the GSI by senior Chinese diplomats in 2023 and 2024. Overall, reflecting earlier assessments by analysts and scholars, the GSI in the two years since its introduction has remained both broad and vague, most likely by design.[5]


In general, the GSI is framed as a means to enhance security in the increasingly turbulent world. To address “deficits in peace, development, security, and governance,” the 2023 GSI concept paper outlines the initiative’s lofty declaratory aims: eliminating the root causes of international conflicts, improving global security governance, increasing global stability, and realizing “lasting world peace and development.”[6] To achieve these goals, the GSI is framed around adherence to six core concepts and principles (核心理念与原则), which have become known as the “six commitments” (六个坚持).[7] Specifically, they are: 1.) to pursue China’s vision of “common, comprehensive, cooperative, and sustainable security,” 2.) to respect sovereignty and territorial integrity, 3.) to abide by the purposes and principles of the UN Charter, 4.) to take the legitimate security concerns of all countries seriously, 5.) to peacefully resolve differences and disputes between countries through dialogue and consultation, and 6.) to maintain security in both the traditional and the nontraditional domains.[8]


Most of these six commitments represent longstanding principles of Chinese foreign policy, some going back to the Five Principles of Peaceful Coexistence that were first introduced in 1954. In the post–Cold War context, most of the GSI’s principles are drawn directly from Jiang Zemin’s idea of a “new security concept” (新安全观) that was introduced in the mid-1990s.[9] Specifically, respecting sovereignty and territorial integrity, highlighting the centrality of the UN and UN Charter, peacefully resolving disputes, and emphasizing nontraditional security are all core principles in Jiang’s new security concept.[10] As described by one Chinese scholar, the GSI reflects “the legacy of all previous Chinese security concepts.”[11] 


The GSI’s emphasis on longstanding Chinese principles in some ways has prevented a more fulsome development of the concept’s conceptual core. What matters more is that China is now strong enough and perhaps confident enough to act on many of these convictions.[12] Nevertheless two areas warrant more discussion: common security and respect for legitimate security concerns. Common security (共同安全) has been described as a goal of Jiang’s new security concept, although it has received much greater emphasis under Xi, especially after he highlighted the idea in 2014 as part of a “New Asian Security Concept” based on “common, comprehensive, cooperative, and sustainable security.”[13] Common security is also a core element in China’s community of shared future. In Chinese documents, the basis for common security is “respecting and ensuring the security of each and every state.”[14] It is meant to convey an inclusive approach for pursuing security as part of China’s strident critique of U.S. security policy that is discussed below, especially the refrain that United States pursues its security at the expense of others and engages in “bloc confrontation.” Subsequent speeches by senior MFA officials in late 2023 and early 2024 underscore that common security is one of the GSI’s “defining features,” along with openness and inclusion, again being stressed so as to contrast China’s approach with what it describes as that of the United States.[15] 


Part of China’s concept of common security is to “fully respect and accommodate the legitimate security concerns of all parties.”[16] To underscore this point, the GSI independently highlights respect for “legitimate security concerns” (合理安全关切) as a principle, which it pairs with a related concept of “indivisible security” (安全不可分割). Indivisible security was included in the Helsinki Final Act, negotiated in the 1970s, and it reflects the notion that one state’s security cannot come at the expense of another state’s security. Although China’s use of the term in the context of the GSI was initially viewed as an effort to justify Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February 2022, China also used the term in the 2000s and 2010s in joint statements with Russia, as part of Xi’s “comprehensive national security concept,” and in joint communiqués issued by the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO), among others.[17]  


A stark tension—or contradiction—exists between the goal of common security on the one hand and respect for legitimate security concerns and pursuit of indivisible security on the other. What each state defines as its legitimate security concerns is highly subjective and may be viewed as threatening or illegitimate by other states, thereby undermining indivisible security.[18] Territorial disputes in which states claim sovereignty over the same piece of land are perhaps a classic example of both sides viewing their claims as legitimate and being undermined by the claims of the other state. More broadly, each state’s adherence to what it views as its legitimate security concerns may produce additional conflicts among states or may sharpen existing conflicts in ways that weaken the functioning of collective security organizations, such as the United Nations, much less the achievement of some sort of common security.[19] This suggests China’s use of either legitimate concerns or indivisible security may often be instrumental, to justify its partners’ or its own interests over those of others.


The concept paper lists twenty priority areas for cooperation under the GSI, which can be grouped into three types. The first includes traditional security issues, such as enhancing UN-led conflict prevention, peacekeeping and peace-building activities, nuclear and other weapon of mass destruction (WMD) security and nonproliferation issues, conventional arms control, the settlement of regional and international disputes, maritime security, outer space, and, most vaguely, “coordination and sound interactions among major countries and the building of a major country relationship featuring peaceful coexistence, overall stability, and balanced development.”


The second set of priorities focuses on addressing regional security issues in Asia, the Middle East, Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean, and the Pacific Islands in ways that mirror China’s economic engagement and interests in these regions. The identification of these regions underscores the GSI’s focus on the developing world as well as its attention to its own backyard. Notably, Europe is missing from the concept paper, despite Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and the threats to regional security that it creates.


The third set of priority areas focuses on nontraditional security issues, including information security, biosecurity, security governance for emerging technologies such as AI, world health, food security, transnational crime and police cooperation, and climate change and supply chains.[20] This set of issues also speaks to the interests of the developing world, reflecting the link between security and development in Chinese thinking, and it highlights issues viewed impacting regime or state security that are closely connected with Xi Jinping’s “comprehensive national security concept.”[21] These are issues that, to varying degrees, lack established governance regimes, thereby creating opportunities for China to exercise leadership.


Taken together, the GSI’s priority areas for cooperation reflect a desire to work through existing international organization, such as the UN and WHO, or regional organizations, such as ASEAN, while also revealing an intent to launch new, targeted efforts toward emerging nontraditional security issues for which little or no previous governance structures exist. Much of the envisaged cooperation remains mostly at the state-to-state diplomatic level, though some nontraditional issues such as transnational crime envisions greater cooperation among national police forces.[22] The GSI also excludes almost all forms military and defense cooperation apart of academic exchanges, a fact reinforced with the MFA, not the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) or the Ministry of Defense, serving as the lead agency to implement the GSI.[23] 


After the release of the concept paper, Chinese documents more clearly integrated the GSI (and the other global initiatives) into China’s broader vision for global governance. In September 2023, on the eve of a meeting of the UN General Assembly, the MFA issued China’s proposal for the reform and development of global governance.[24] The proposal discusses how the three global initiatives will help promote governance reform and it details how the GSI can be applied to regional conflicts, from the Korean Peninsula to Palestine, along with many nontraditional security issues. In October 2023, the GSI was officially yoked to China’s overarching concept of the “community of common destiny for mankind” (人类命运共同体), which official translations now render as the “community of shared future.” In the white paper on the community of shared future released that month, the three major initiatives are described as “important support” (重要依托) for such a community. In December 2023, the Central Foreign Affairs Work Conference highlighted that implementation of the GSI and other global initiatives would serve as a “strategic guide” (战略引领) for building the community of shared future, or how to put ideas into action.[25] From a conceptual standpoint, one consequence of linking the GSI to the community of shared future is that Chinese officials even more emphatically stress the principle of common security and related ideas of equality and inclusivity, again to contrast what China portrays as its open and inclusive approach versus that of the United States.


Echoing many earlier analyses, the GSI remains vague in content and broad in scope. However, for several reasons this is almost certainly intentional. As one analyst describes, the GSI is “nebulous by design,” suggesting that this ambiguity is a feature and not a bug.[26] First, it ensures the GSI’s broadest possible appeal to other countries, meaning that it includes literally something for every state to support or to favor. Some states may care most about food security, while others may care most about regional security. Being so broad ensures that many states may be more likely to support the initiative in their formal interactions with China, which in turn will allow China to highlight the GSI’s appeal and attractiveness.


Second, the GSI, as articulated, can never really fail. There will likely be some issue that China can highlight as a success or as an achievement, while the lack of success or progress on other issues can be framed as simply requiring greater dedication to implementation. Moreover, the declaratory goals are so lofty that precise benchmarks cannot be applied. In this way, like earlier initiatives such as the BRI, the GSI is as much a journey as it is a destination.


Third, it allows China to rebrand its recent diplomatic activism as either reflecting or contributing to the GSI in order to highlight the initiative’s momentum. Thus, the GSI serves as a useful overarching concept for China’s increasingly proactive diplomacy on security issues during the past decade. This allows China to project even greater support and momentum for its activities without changing the trajectory of its policies.


Nevertheless, the vagueness of the GSI may hinder its implementation, especially when compared to the GDI. That is, development can be more easily measured through specific investments, projects, and or even GDP. In this way, the GDI contains “more purposeful, outcome-oriented engagement,” with 32 deliverables that can be easily assessed.[27] By contrast, achieving or demonstrating progress on much less tangible and more nebulous outcomes in the GSI is much more difficult.


Discrediting and Delegitimatizing the United States


If common security is the positive message behind the GSI, however broad it remains, the initiative has been quite clearly positioned in terms of what it opposes. Put differently, perhaps the GSI’s most specific and well-defined aspects are not what it is for but what it is against—the United States and its network of alliances. When Xi introduced the GSI in 2022, he made clear what it would seek to address, stressing that “the Cold War mentality would only wreck the global peace framework, that hegemonism and power politics would only endanger world peace, and that bloc confrontation would only exacerbate security challenges in the 21st century.”[28] In introducing the GSI’s core principles, Xi called on countries to “reject the Cold War mentality, oppose unilateralism, and say no to group politics and bloc confrontation,” to “oppose the pursuit of one’s own security at the cost of others’ security,” and to “reject double standards, and oppose the wanton use of unilateral sanctions and long-arm jurisdiction.” Of course, this list represents the litany of China’s grievances about U.S. policies and especially about the role of U.S. alliances.


Wang Yi’s 2022 essay in People’s Daily is even more pointed. He describes the world as “facing unprecedented risks of division.” Referring to the United States, the reason is that “Some countries, stubbornly clinging to the outdated mindset of Cold War confrontation, are obsessed with building exclusive, small circles and blocs.” Wang then describes how the United States “pursued unilateralism in the name of multilateralism,” used “double standards while touting its own rules,” “wantonly” imposed unilateral sanctions, and overstretched “the concept of national security to hold back economic and technological advances by other countries.” The point of the critique is to demonstrate how U.S. policies have “worsened the livelihoods of people all over the world, particularly those in the developing countries,”[29] highlighting the GSI’s target audience.


The initial counter-U.S. framing, casting the GSI as an alternative and in many ways the antidote to U.S. policies, has shaped subsequent descriptions of the initiative and its objectives. Unlike Xi’s 2022 speech, the 2023 GSI concept paper avoids almost any criticism of the United States, even indirectly. Yet the very day before the MFA released the concept paper in February 2023, Xinhua, China’s main news agency, issued a report from its think-tank, the Xinhua Institute, entitled “U.S. Hegemony and Its Perils.”[30] Clearly, these two documents are intended to be read together: the Xinhua report diagnosing the threats to world peace—U.S. policy and its alliances—that the GSI is designed to address.[31] To wit, the Xinhua report begins by noting, as the world’s most powerful country “the United States has acted more boldly to interfere in the internal affairs of other countries, pursue, maintain, and abuse hegemony, advance subversion and infiltration, and willfully wage wars, bringing harm to the international community.” The remainder of the report details all these harms. Thus, as the concept paper explains, “The Cold War mentality, unilateralism, bloc confrontation, and hegemonism contradict the spirit of the UN Charter and must be resisted and rejected”—in other words, U.S. policies, especially its alliances, must be resisted and rejected.


In September 2023, the drumbeat continued. Xinhua released another report on the United States just weeks prior to the release of China’s proposal for global governance reform and its white paper on the community of shared future. Entitled “Origins, Facts and Perils of U.S. Military Hegemony,” this report again seeks to portray the United States as a grave threat to world peace. U.S. “hegemonic policies and actions” are described as “bringing tremendous harm to the whole world; destroying lives and human dignity, trampling on the sovereignty of other nations, disturbing the international order, hindering peaceful development, causing humanitarian disasters, jeopardizing global security and stability, [and] impeding the progress of human civilization.”[32] Moreover, the white paper on the community of shared future was much more direct than the GSI concept paper, justifying many of its core elements in terms of criticism of the United States to make the case that the United States poses the greatest obstacle to common security.


The counter-U.S. framing of the GSI and the community of shared future serves several important purposes. Perhaps the main purpose is to discredit the United States, its alliances, and its global leadership role on security issues. This reflects what IR scholars describe as a delegitimization strategy, or a counter-hegemonic strategy, whose intent is to sow doubts about the reliability of the dominant state in the system and to weaken the ideational basis of the existing order.[33]


Delegitimization advances several goals. First, it reduces the costs of offering alternative ideas and approaches, even as vague as the GSI remains, and it increases the potential appeal of new proposals. This creates ideational space for China “to position itself as a diplomatic and political alternative to the United States” on security issues.[34] Second, delegitimization allows China to build support for its leadership by casting itself as responsive to the concerns and dissatisfactions that many states, especially those in the developing world, harbor about the existing international order.[35] Third, more immediately, it seeks to weaken global support for U.S. policies and to deter other states from joining U.S. initiatives that target China, or at least to raise the costs of doing so in terms of their own ties with China.[36] Finally, it can justify taking actions to balance against the United States.


A second and more tactical purpose of the counter-U.S. framing is to respond pressure on China that has increased amid growing U.S.-China competition. U.S.-China ties are at their lowest level since rapprochement began in the 1970s, if not earlier.[37] The United States often seeks to portray China as a global challenge and a leading source of global instability. At the Anchorage talks, for example, Secretary of State Antony Blinken noted that Chinese “actions threaten the rules-based order that maintains global stability”[38] and he suggested that the alternatives to this order that are favored by China would emphasize “might makes right” and create “a far more violent and unstable world for all of us.” From a Chinese standpoint, the United States appears increasingly hostile. As shown in Figure 1, Chinese perceptions of U.S. hostility as reflected in People’s Daily articles has increased significantly since 2018. In early 2021, Xi Jinping described the United States as “the biggest threat” to China’s development and security.[39] This gives Beijing strong incentives to deflect US criticism by offering an alternative narrative about the competition, to blame the US for the deterioration in ties and its global consequences, and to portray the United States as a leading source of global instability. Similarly, given the role of alliances in the Biden China strategy of “invest, align, compete,” Chinese criticisms of the United States emphasize alliances to weaken this strategy.


Figure 1: Indicators of Chinese perceptions of U.S. hostility in People’s Daily

Figure 1: Indicators of Chinese perceptions of U.S. hostility in People’s Daily

The counter-U.S. framing also likely explains why China refuses to accept the label of “competition” to describe U.S.-China relations as many U.S. officials would like China to do. But doing so would reject some of the core elements of common security and would suggest that China may be seeking to engage in the type of “bloc confrontation” that it accuses the United States of pursuing.


A potential challenge for China is that its counter-U.S. framing of the GSI might undercut the credibility of its goal of common security. Put differently, countries may be reluctant to become closely involved in the initiative if its main purpose is to provide a façade for balancing against the United States.[40] A vision of common security anchored around China may not be viewed as common or inclusive at all, as discussed in more detail below.


Global Reception of the GSI


Unlike other prominent Chinese global initiatives, such as the BRI or the GDI, there is no mechanism for states to join or to participate in the GSI. In the case of the BRI, for example, more than 140 states signed Memoranda of Understandings (MOUs) with China for cooperation under the BRI, which, although nonbinding, provide rhetorical support that China has exploited to further promote the BRI.[41] In the case of the GDI, the process has been more opaque, with a “Group of Friends” consisting of 80 countries that now hold regular meetings (though the process by which a state joins this friend group remains unclear).[42]


In contrast, in the case of the GSI there is no formal process to participate, such as signing an MOU or joining a friend group. Instead, Chinese government statements refer to the number of countries that have expressed “support” or “appreciation” (支持、赞赏) for the GSI. According to the MFA, this number now includes “over 100 countries as well as international and regional organizations,” although a complete list of these states and organizations is unavailable and the criteria for providing support or appreciation are unclear.[43] Chinese sources also note that expressions of support and appreciation “have been written into a number of … cooperation documents between China and other countries,” which would appear to be a more specific and formal means for a state to convey its support for the GSI. Most likely, this refers to statements of support for the initiative in joint statements or communiqués or other official joint documents. However, China has not released any information about how many states have expressed support in this more formal way, which suggests that skepticism about the more than 100 countries and organizations identified as supporting or appreciating the GSI may be warranted.


Analysis of the positions of the forty countries in regional organizations targeted by China under the GSI, such as ASEAN or the Conference on Interaction and Confidence Building Measures in Asia (CICA) in the next section of this essay, provides a partial view of how much and what kind of support China has received. A majority of twenty-three states, or 57.5 percent of those reviewed, have not indicated formal support for the GSI in any joint document with China. By contrast, seventeen of these states, or 42.5 percent, have indicated formal support for the GSI through a joint statement or communiqué, often released on the occasion of a high-level meeting. Such statements may include a phrase such as, for example, “Pakistan supports [支持] the Global Security Initiative proposed by China,”[44] but not much more. Any joint statement issued after March 2023 usually indicates support for all three global initiatives as a package. And very few are more effusive, such as Sri Lanka stating it “firmly supports and actively participates” in the GSI as well as in the GDI and the GCI.[45]  A list of all countries analyzed is available in the appendix.


What to make of this? First, even in organizations targeted by China for cooperation, formal support for the GSI is uneven. Nevertheless, if nothing else, such statements enable China to claim that the GSI has been warmly received, thereby enhancing the initiative’s legitimacy as it develops and creating a perception of momentum. At the same time, in terms of implementing the GSI, what appears to be mostly superficial rhetorical support has clear limits. The statements of support are nonbinding and do not commit states to pursuing any kind of security cooperation with China, either under the GSI or not, or to help consolidate the GSI’s principles and norms. China likely recognizes this fact, which is why the concept paper highlights pursuing the GSI through various platforms and mechanisms, as described in the next section, more than through individual states.


Very limited polling data exist to examine how the GSI has been received beyond the official documents. One example comes from Southeast Asia, which is especially relevant because China has identified Asia as a “pilot area” (实验区) for the GSI.[46] The 2023 State of Southeast Asia Survey that indicates lukewarm attitudes toward the GSI in the region. Among the respondents, 44 percent indicate little or no confidence that the GSI will benefit the region, while another 28 percent opt for no comment, and only 27 are confident or very confident that the GSI will benefit the region (this mainly includes the respondents from Brunei and Cambodia). Among those who hold negative views about the GSI, 33 percent view it as potentially a source that will increase U.S.-China tensions, while 33 percent believe that it will force the ASEAN countries to take sides—something that they would very much prefer to avoid. This suggests that despite China’s opposition to bloc confrontations, the GSI is viewed as doing just that. Among those viewing the GSI more positively, 33 percent believe it will complement other security initiatives, while 30 percent believe it will promote a balance of power in the region. Overall, this survey, even though limited to only one region, indicates that there is a large gap between China’s framing of “common security” in the GSI and regional perceptions.


Implementation of the GSI


In many ways, the GSI represents an umbrella term or an overarching concept that captures the significant increase in China’s diplomatic activism with respect to security issues during the past decade. As soon as Xi introduced the initiative, official sources, such as Wang Yi’s 2022 People’s Daily essay, sought to portray China’s existing policies as part of the GSI, rebranding and repacking disparate polices under one term.[47] At the same time, Chinese ambassadors around the world began to publish articles and to give speeches in order to build support. As Manoj Kewalramani observes, “the most noteworthy aspect of these engagements was how swiftly Chinese diplomats framed existing policy measures and initiatives within the framework of GSI.”[48]


The 2023 concept paper contains a more specific vision for how to implement the GSI, adopting a multilateral approach based on using “cooperation platforms and mechanisms” (合作平台和机制) to build support for the initiative’s principles or to engage in specific forms of cooperation. Loosely speaking, the concept paper emphasizes using international and regional intergovernmental organizations, such as the UN or the SCO, as well as regional or functional dialogue mechanisms toward these ends. Apart from the UN, all organizations and mechanisms identified in the concept paper do not include the United States as a member or as a participant. In addition to perhaps being more welcoming venues for China to increase its influence, or at least to face less resistance from the United States, they are also platforms where China may be able to start the process of changing global norms in specific areas without confronting the U.S. directly.


Specifically, the concept paper mentions “leveraging the roles of” the SCO, BRICS, CICA, China-Central Asia Summit (C+C5), and other East Asian cooperation mechanisms (most likely related to ASEAN) to carry out cooperation under the GSI. Most are based in Asia, which China targeted for the GSI’s implementation. Before turning to the dialogue mechanisms in the concept paper, the analysis below first examines China’s efforts to gain support for the GSI in these bodies.


Content analysis can be used in tracking efforts to implement the GSI. Figure 2 depicts the number of articles each month in People’s Daily, the party’s flagship newspaper, that reference the GSI. As the figure shows, efforts to implement the GSI cluster around different time periods, such as July 2022, September 2022, March 2023, and October 2023. Each cluster is associated with a different series of events in which China sought to promote the GSI. In the first period, around July 2022, the GSI was featured (along with the GDI) in coverage of the 14th BRICS summit and the high-level dialogue on global development. Drivers of the second peak include Xi Jinping’s participation at the 22nd SCO summit as well as his state visits to several Central Asian states and Mongolia during which he promoted the initiative. The third peak, around March 2023, includes coverage of the GSI concept paper, the Boao Forum, Xi’s visit to Russia, and the CCP in Dialogue with World Political Parties High-level Meeting. The last peak, in October 2023, includes coverage of the GSI during the Third Belt and Road Forum and the Beijing Xiangshan Forum. As the figure shows, somewhat suggestively, references to the GSI have gradually decreased since September 2022.


Figure 2: References to 全球安全倡议 in People’s Daily

Figure 2: References to 全球安全倡议 in People’s Daily

Finally, the concept appears to call for holding “high-level conferences on the GSI in due course.” So far, no conferences have been held, though as recently as March 2024 China remained committed to holding such conferences. To some degree, the absence of such a conference limits the ability to understand how the initiative will be implemented, as such a meeting would likely have a more specific focus.


International and Regional Organizations


Starting with Southeast Asia, among the ten members of ASEAN, support for the GSI has been mixed. Five ASEAN states have expressed formal support (Cambodia, Vietnam, Laos, Malaysia, and Myanmar) in joint documents. Singapore and Brunei have not yet indicated formal support. While expressing support and even enthusiasm for the GDI, Indonesia, the Philippines and Thailand have adopted a much more cautious approach toward the GSI. Indonesia has only stated that “it takes note of the GSI”,[49] while the Philippines and Thailand have expressed an interest only in “exploring” cooperation under the GSI but not support.[50] In other words, three key states in Southeast Asia, including the region’s largest economy, are more inclined to embrace China as a development partner under the GDI than as a security partner under the GSI. Because ASEAN members appear divided on the GSI, China is likely to face headwinds using ASEAN as a platform for GSI cooperation. Joint statements issued after the ASEAN-China summits in 2022 and 2023, for example, include no reference to the GSI and they only provide language about “exploring” cooperation under the GDI. Likewise, no ASEAN ministerial statements appear to include any reference to the GSI.[51] The most that can be said is that the chair’s statement at the ASEAN-China summits in 2022 and 2023 “took note” of the GSI, but these statements are not consensus documents and they simply indicate that the GSI had been discussed.[52]


Moving to Central Asia, incomplete support for the GSI within the SCO has not yet transformed it into a platform to promote initiative. All nine members except India have expressed support for the GSI in individual joint statements with China. One formal observer, Afghanistan, has not expressed support. Five of the SCO’s dialogue partners have also not expressed support (Armenia, Turkey, Egypt, Qatar, and Bahrain). A sixth dialogue partner, Nepal, explicitly declined to support the GSI, citing the country’s longstanding nonalignment policy.[53] China pushed the GSI at SCO summit meetings in 2022 and 2023, but with only limited success. Statements issued by the SCO on energy security and food security in 2022 and 2023, respectively, “note” the GSI but do not provide explicit support, while summit declarations during both years lack any mention of the GSI, perhaps because of India’s reluctance to endorse the concept. Curiously, given the GSI’s focus on counterterrorism as a cooperation priority, a July 2023 SCO heads of state statement on counterterrorism also contains no reference to the GSI, perhaps for similar reasons.


Also in Central Asia, China has achieved perhaps its greatest success in using an Asian regional organization to promote the GSI. During his speech at the inaugural summit of the new China–Central Asian Summit in May 2023, Xi called on the assembled leaders “to act on the Global Security Initiative, and stand firm against external attempts to interfere in domestic affairs of regional countries and strive to resolve security conundrums in the region.”[54] The “Xi’an Declaration,” released at the end of the summit meeting, states that the Central Asian states “highly value and are willing to actively implement” [高度评价并愿积极践行] the GDI, GSI, and GCI.[55] As all these countries had already previously signaled their support for the GSI, perhaps this outcome is unsurprising.


Spanning many parts of Asia, support for the GSI in the CICA has also been mixed. Twelve of the twenty-eight members have not indicated any formal support for the GSI.[56] At the CICA’s October 2022 summit, Vice President Wang Qishan noted that “China wishes to work with other countries in the region to further implement this initiative and jointly safeguard peace and tranquility in Asia,” but the joint statement issued at the summit’s end contains no reference to the GSI.[57] At the 2024 Boao Forum, the CICA secretary-general praised the initiative in his speech, however he has since refrained from mentioning it in speeches in other settings.[58] In other words, he does not seem to promote the initiative on behalf of the CICA except when he is attending forums linked to the GSI in China. At the next CICA ministerial meeting, most likely is held in fall 2024, it is unlikely that a consensus will be produced around the GSI given the varied stances of its diverse members (including those with close U.S. ties, such as South Korea and Israel).


Turning to the BRICS, support has been mixed.[59] Three of the five original BRICS members have declined to publicly support the GSI (India, Brazil, and South Africa). Of the five states that joined the “BRICS plus” in January 2024, two have expressed support in joint statements with China (Ethiopia and Iran), while Saudi Arabia has only expressed “appreciation,”[60] Egypt has refrained from expressing support and the position of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) is unclear. Although the joint statement issued at the August 2023 BRICS Summit in South Africa reflects some of China’s concerns, such as criticism of “unilateralism,” it does not include any references to the GSI. Moreover, although Xi’s speech at the 2023 summit invoked several terms now associated with the GSI, such as indivisible security and the Cold War mentality, he avoided any mention of the GSI.[61]


Similar resistance has been encountered in the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), which China has also lobbied to embrace the GSI. Kuwait has expressed enthusiastic support for the GSI, while Saudi Arabia has only noted its “appreciation.”[62] Qatar, Oman, and Bahrain have not yet signaled support, while the position of the UAE remains unclear. During his speech to the group in December 2022, Xi “welcomed GCC countries to participate in the Global Security Initiative and jointly uphold regional peace and stability.”[63] Yet the joint statement issued at the end of the meeting includes no mention of the GSI (or even of the GDI).[64] 


At the UN, China’s success to date has been limited, although it will certainly be a key focus for GSI implementation in the coming years given the UN’s centrality in the initiative. China used its rotating presidency of the UN Security Council in August 2022 and November 2023 to hold sessions on themes linked to common security, allowing it to highlight the GSI and to note, on the record, how the GSI (and other Chinese initiatives) can advance common security.[65] China has likely begun to include GSI-related initiatives as part of the UN Peace and Development Trust Fund that it established in 2015 given how it used the fund in part to promote the BRI.[66]


In terms of inserting phrases linked to the GSI in UN General Assembly (UNGA) resolutions, however, China has been less successful. As Courtney Fung and Shing-hon Lam show, the inclusion of Chinese diplomatic phrases into these resolutions, especially the “community of shared future,” peaked between 2017 and 2019. However, they have since declined, with no inclusion of the phrase in 2022.[67] The decline stems from greater vigilance about the inclusion of Chinese phrases since 2021.[68] A review of UNGA resolutions from 2022 and 2023 indicates that there were no inclusions of the GSI or community of shared future during these years.[69]


Dialogues and Forums


The concept paper also highlights using “dialogue platforms” (对话平台). Here, China has experienced more success, largely because it helped to establish and, in some cases, to lead such platforms. The August 2022 joint statement of a working meeting of coordinators of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation indicates that “the African side welcomes and supports” [欢迎并支持] the GSI.”[70] In December 2022, the first Arab-China Summit was held under the framework of the Arab-China State Cooperation Forum, a dialogue mechanism for China and the Arab League. The “Riyadh Declaration” issued at the end of the summit notes how the participants “value and appreciate [重视并赞赏] the global development and global security initiatives proposed by Chinese President Xi Jinping.”[71] 


The GSI concept paper also emphasizes using China-led or China-organized unofficial forums for implementing the GSI. Unlike the dialogue platforms mentioned above, these unofficial meetings often include some government officials as well as scholars and experts and they allow China to reach targeted audiences with specific policy messages but without needing to reach agreement among the participants. Those specifically mentioned in the concept paper include the China-Africa Peace and Security Forum, the Middle East Security Forum, the Beijing Xiangshan Forum, the Boao Forum, and the Global Public Security Cooperation Forum (Lianyungang). All have held meetings in the last year in which China sought to promote the GSI to these different audiences. How these forums shape national policies toward China warrants further research.


The Middle East Security Forum provides a useful illustration of how China has used such China-led forums. Established in 2019, it is organized by the MFA’s research institute, the China Institute for International Studies, and it convenes scholars and officials from the region. The second meeting, held in September 2022, focused on how to implement the GSI in the region. It provided an opportunity for Wang Yi to introduce China’s call for establishing a new architecture for Middle East security (建中东安全新架构) that was framed as implementing the GSI. This architecture would be based on China’s vision of “common, comprehensive, cooperative, and sustainable security,” highlighting the “leading role” of the Middle Eastern states in regional security affairs, abiding by the UN Charter, and resuming Israel-Palestine peace talks. Much of this was designed to weaken the U.S. role in the region, noting that “Middle Eastern security affairs should be in the hands of Middle Eastern countries” and calling on states “to reject hegemonic bullying and oppose all unilateral sanctions and ‘long-arm jurisdiction’ not authorized by the United Nations.”[72] Participants from the region likely included those viewed as influential and friendly, or at least not hostile, to China, in the hopes of using such individuals to build support for China’s proposal in their respective countries.


Resolving Hotspots


As noted in the concept paper, one priority area of cooperation is to “promote political settlement of international and regional hotspot issues” by emphasizing the facilitation of peace talks. China’s role in the Saudi-Iranian rapprochement in early 2023 was quickly hailed by China as a GSI success. As described by Foreign Minister Wang Yi, it was a “robust and successful effort to put the Global Security Initiative into practice.”[73] Yet, despite making its good offices available to facilitate normalization, China played a relatively minor role and only toward the end of the process. To recap, in 2021 Iran signaled a willingness to engage in diplomatic talks with Saudi Arabia after the break in relations in 2016. Iraq agreed to serve as a mediator and the talks progressed until summer 2022, when a newly elected Iraqi government was unwilling to continue to play such a role. In December 2022, Saudi Arabia asked China to replace Iraq as mediator, leading to the March 2023 agreement.[74] 


However, in China’s attempts to address hot spots elsewhere, the GSI remains largely absent, beyond general calls for either peace talks or a cease fire. China appears to be taking a cautious approach while maintaining its longstanding positions that tilt toward Russian and Palestinian interests. In the case of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, China’s 2023 position paper (on what China calls the “crisis”) highlights the need to respect legitimate rights and interests but avoids repeating previous references to indivisible security in the context of the war. Yet in coverage of special envoy Li Hui’s travels, Chinese readouts never cast this effort as part of the GSI, most likely because the envisioned peace talks have not yet been held and China’s role is uncertain. The same can be said about China’s focus on the Israel-Palestine conflict after the violent surprise attack by Hamas on October 7. China’s response leans heavily on its previous positions, emphasizing a two-state solution while making no mention of any “legitimate security concerns” that Israel may have as a result of the attack. Efforts by Zhai Jun, China’s special envoy for the Middle East, in his travels since October 2023 are also not portrayed as part of the GSI.[75] 


Prospects for the GSI


Looking ahead, the prospects for the GSI and its implementation are mixed. First, China will no doubt redouble its efforts to pursue many of the GSI’s specific goals through the UN. Areas of emphasis in the near term will include the peacekeeping enterprise, counterterrorism, and transnational crime, among others. Given the centrality of the United Nations in the GSI, or what China calls “true multilateralism,” such a focus is unsurprising. Such efforts will evolve and accumulate over time, as demonstrated by the lessons of China’s approach to its increasing involvement in peacekeeping.[76]


Second, China will likely prioritize pursuing cooperation under the GSI in nontraditional security domains, many of which are linked to issues that can impact regime security and stability that matter to many states in the developing world. Many of these issue areas lack any legacy or institutionalized governance structures, which may offer a more favorable environment for China to seek a leading role. For example, China will likely emphasize its Global Data Security Initiative (launched in 2020, before the GSI) along with the Global AI Governance Initiative (launched in 2023), as it positions itself to shape governance in these emerging areas.


Third, the analysis above suggests that using regional organizations as platforms to promote the GSI may be challenging. The exceptions may be smaller groups that are already closely tied to China’s periphery, such as the C+C5 or the Lancang-Mekong Initiative. Larger organizations with more diverse memberships will present China with more complicated environments and may hamper its ability to institutionalize its preferred norms in these settings. China may have more success in unofficial dialogue mechanisms, such as those under the auspices of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation, though it remains unclear how these dialogues will ultimately affect the national policies of the participating states.


China will face several headwinds in pushing the GSI forward. First, the counter-US framing may deter countries from becoming deeply involved in GSI-branded activities as they will not want to be seen as choosing sides by aligning with a Chinese initiative that targets the United States. This may explain why the much-anticipated high-level conferences on the GSI have yet to be held. Second, in stark contrast to the GDI, the broad scope of issues included under the GSI means that the initiative lacks a focus that can be used to mobilize support. Third, within Asia, the GSI’s pilot zone, China remains intertwined in many of the region’s security challenges, which will limit application of many elements of the GSI even as China uses its counter-U.S. framing to seek to weaken support for the United States in the region. Fourth, states and other actors in regions or issues targeted by China have their own agency, which China must take into account in order to be successful. In the Horn of Africa, for example, Chinese mediation has not been uniformly welcomed.[77]


More broadly, though, reflecting China’s aspirations for greater international leadership, the GSI will remain an important feature of Chinese diplomacy, at least as long as Xi Jinping remains in power. Although its vision of security governance, much less a future order, remains vague and in many cases quite situational, its broad and flexible scope allows China to be opportunistic in finding moments or platforms to push it forward. Over time, discrete actions may accumulate into something more concrete or it may be redefined and re-scoped in the way that the BRI has been several times. In this way, the GSI is as much of a journey as it is a destination.


Acknowledgements

The author thanks Raymond Wang for his expert research assistance and helpful comments.


About the Contributor

M. Taylor Fravel is the Arthur and Ruth Sloan Professor of Political Science and Director of the Security Studies Program at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. His books include Strong Borders, Secure Nation: Cooperation and Conflict in China’s Territorial Disputes, (Princeton University Press, 2008) and Active Defense: China’s Military Strategy Since 1949 (Princeton University Press, 2019).


Notes

[1] Carla Freeman, “Xi Kicks Off Campaign for a Chinese Vision of Global Security,” United States Institute of Peace, October 5, 2022, https://www.usip.org/publications/2022/10/xi-kicks-campaign-chinese-vision-global-security; Paul Haenle and Nathaniel Sher, “Initiative Diplomacy: China’s New Rules for Global Governance, Security and Development,” East Asian Policy 15, no. 4 (December 2023), pp. 7–21.

[2] On this general idea, see Rush Doshi, The Long Game: China’s Grand Strategy to Displace American Order (New York: Oxford University Press, 2001), p. 5.

[3] Wang Yi, “Acting on the Global Security Initiative to Safeguard World Peace and Tranquility,” MFA, April 24, 2022, https://www.fmprc.gov.cn/mfa_eng/wjdt_665385/zyjh_665391/202205/t20220505_10681820.html 

[4] “The Global Security Initiative Concept Paper,” MFA, February 21, 2023, https://www.fmprc.gov.cn/mfa_eng/wjbxw/202302/t20230221_11028348.html For the Chinese version, see 全球安全倡议概念文件, https://www.mfa.gov.cn/wjbxw_new/202302/t20230221_11028322.shtml 

[5] Chris Cash, “What Is China’s Global Security Initiative?” Council on Geostrategy, September 29, 2022; Alice Ekman, “China’s Global Security Initiative Concept: When the Process Matters More than the Content” (European Union Institute for Security Studies [EUISS], 2022); Freeman, “Xi Kicks Off Campaign for a Chinese Vision of Global Security”; Haenle and Sher, “Initiative Diplomacy”; Manoj Kewalramani, “China’s Global Security Initiative,” The Takshashila Institution, January 2023, https://takshashila.org.in/research/global-security-initiative-undermining-us-alliances 

[6] “The Global Security Initiative Concept Paper.”

[7] “The Global Security Initiative Concept Paper.”

[8] “The Global Security Initiative Concept Paper.”

[9] Bates Gill, Rising Star: China’s New Security Diplomacy, revised paperback (Washington, DC: Brookings Institution, 2010), pp. 120.

[10] “China’s Position Paper on the New Security Concept,” MFA, July 31, 2002, https://www.fmprc.gov.cn/mfa_eng/wjb_663304/zzjg_663340/gjs_665170/gjzzyhy_665174/2612_665212/2614_665216/200208/t20020806_598568.html 

[11] Wu Zhicheng, “以大国担当践行全球安全倡议” [Implementing the Global Security Initiative with Great Power Responsibility], 国际论坛 [International Forum], no. 1 (2023), p. 18.

[12] On this point, see Elizabeth Economy, “China’s Alternative Order and What America Should Learn from It,” Foreign Affairs (May/June 2024), pp. 8-24.

[13] Xi Jinping, “New Asian Security Concept for New Progress in Security Cooperation,” MFA, May 21, 2014, https://www.fmprc.gov.cn/mfa_eng/wjdt_665385/zyjh_665391/201405/t20140527_678163.html 

[14] Xi Jinping, “New Asian Security Concept for New Progress in Security Cooperation.”

[15] Nong Rong, “Jointly Implementing the Global Security Initiative for Lasting Peace and Security of the World,” MFA, October 21, 2023, https://www.mfa.gov.cn/eng/wjbxw/202311/t20231102_11172214.html and Chen Xiaodong, “Implementing the Global Security Initiative to Build a World of Lasting Peace and Universal Security,” MFA, March 28, 2024, https://www.fmprc.gov.cn/mfa_eng/wjbxw/202403/t20240328_11272725.html 

[16] Xi Jinping, “New Asian Security Concept for New Progress in Security Cooperation.”

[17] Zha Daojiong and Dong Ting, “Catchy But Not New: ‘Indivisible Security’ in the Chinese Foreign Policy Lexicon,” China: An International Journal 22, no. 1 (February 2024), pp. 4259.

[18] Hoang Thi Ha, “Why Is China’s Global Security Initiative Cautiously Perceived in Southeast Asia?” ISEAS Perspective, February 22, 2023, https://www.iseas.edu.sg/articles-commentaries/iseas-perspective/2023-11-why-is-chinas-global-security-initiative-cautiously-perceived-in-southeast-asia-by-hoang-thi-ha/ 

[19] Courtney J. Fung and Shing-hon Lam, “Mixed Report Card: China’s Influence at the United Nations,” Lowy Institute, December 18, 2022, p. 13, https://www.lowyinstitute.org/publications/mixed-report-card-china-s-influence-united-nations 

[20] “The Global Security Initiative Concept Paper.”

[21] On the GSI’s link to the comprehensive national security concept, see Sheena C. Greitens, “Xi Jinping’s Quest for Order: Security at Home, Influence Abroad,” Foreign Affairs, October 3, 2022, https://www.foreignaffairs.com/china/xi-jinping-quest-order

[22] On police and security force cooperation, see Sheena C. Greitens, “China’s Use of Nontraditional Strategic Landpower in Asia,” Parameters 54, no. 1 (2024), pp. 35–50.

[23] Within the MFA, the Department of External Security Affairs (涉外安全事务司) appears to be the coordinating body for the GSI, focusing mostly on counterterrorism cooperation and oversight of foreign NGOs in China.

[24] Perhaps a more accurate translation of the Chinese version is: “China’s Plan for Transforming and Developing Global Governance” (关于全球治理变革和建设的中国方案). See https://www.mfa.gov.cn/wjbxw_new/202309/t20230913_11142009.shtml 

[25] “中央外事工作会议在北京举行 习近平发表重要讲话” [Central Foreign Affairs Work Conference Is Held in Beijing, Xi Jinping Delivers an Important Speech], Xinhua, December 28, 2023, https://www.12371.cn/2023/12/28/ARTI1703764696024461.shtml 

[26] John S. Van Oudenaren, “How to Respond to China’s Global Security Initiative,” War on the Rocks, March 1, 2024, https://warontherocks.com/2024/03/how-to-respond-to-chinas-global-security-initiative/ 

[27] Kewalramani, “China’s Global Security Initiative,” p. 5-6

[28] Xi Jinping, “Rising to Challenges and Building a Bright Future Through Cooperation,” MFA, April 21, 2022, http://adelaide.chinaconsulate.gov.cn/zgxw_2/202204/t20220421_10671052.htm

[29] Wang Yi, “Acting on the Global Security Initiative to Safeguard World Peace and Tranquility.”

[30] “U.S. Hegemony and Its Perils,” Xinhua, February 20, 2023, https://english.news.cn/20230220/d3a4291d44f2499ea20710ae272ece72/c.html 

[31] Freeman, “Xi Kicks Off Campaign for a Chinese Vision of Global Security”; Haenle and Sher, “Initiative Diplomacy.”

[32] “Full Text: The Report on Origins, Facts and Perils of U.S. Military Hegemony,” Xinhua, September 7, 2023, https://english.news.cn/20230907/0723aa63c40b434aa14904a90af2d024/c.html 

[33] Randall L. Schweller and Xiaoyu Pu, “After Unipolarity: China’s Visions of International Order in an Era of U.S. Decline,” International Security 36, no. 1 (Summer 2011), pp. 41–72; Daniel W. Drezner, “Counter-Hegemonic Strategies in the Global Economy,” Security Studies 28, no. 3 (2019), pp. 505–531.

[34] Haenle and Sher, “Initiative Diplomacy.”

[35] Van Oudenaren, “How to Respond to China’s Global Security Initiative”; Economy, “China’s Alternative Order.”

[36] Helena Legard and Grzegorz Stec, “China’s Global Security Initiative Seeks International Buy-in for Beijing’s Vision of the Global Order,” MERICS China Security and Risk Tracker, 02/2022, May 25, 2022, https://merics.org/en/tracker/merics-china-security-and-risk-tracker-4 

[37] “Americans Remain Critical of China,” Pew Research Center, May 1, 2024, https://www.pewresearch.org/global/2024/05/01/americans-remain-critical-of-china/#:~:text=For%20the%20fifth%20year%20in,Jinping%20receives%20similarly%20negative%20ratings 

[38] “Secretary Antony J. Blinken, National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan, Director Yang and State Councilor Wang at the Top of Their Meeting,” U.S. Department of State, March 18, 2021, https://www.state.gov/secretary-antony-j-blinken-national-security-advisor-jake-sullivan-chinese-director-of-the-office-of-the-central-commission-for-foreign-affairs-yang-jiechi-and-chinese-state-councilor-wang-yi-at-th/ 

[39] Chris Buckley, “‘The East Is Rising’: Xi Maps Out China’s Post-Covid,” New York Times, March 3, 2021, thttps://www.nytimes.com/2021/03/03/world/asia/xi-china-congress.html

[40] Kewalramani, “China’s Global Security Initiative,” p. 25.

[41] Eleanor Atkins, M. Taylor Fravel, Raymond Wang, Nick Ackert, and Sihao Huang, “Two Paths: Why States Join or Avoid China’s Belt and Road Initiative,” Global Studies Quarterly 3, no. 3 (July 2023), pp. 1–14.

[42] “Opening Remarks by China’s Permanent Representative to the UN Ambassador Fu Cong at the High-level Meeting of the Group of Friends of the Global Development Initiative,” MFA, April 17, 2024, https://www.fmprc.gov.cn/eng/wjb_663304/zwjg_665342/zwbd_665378/202404/t20240419_11284819.html 

[43] Chen Xiaodong, “Implementing the Global Security Initiative to Build a World of Lasting Peace and Universal Security.”

[44] “中华人民共和国和巴基斯坦伊斯兰共和国联合声明 [Joint Statement of the People’s Republic of China and the Islamic Republic of Pakistan],” MFA, November 11, 2022,

https://www.mfa.gov.cn/web/ziliao_674904/1179_674909/202211/t20221102_10799301.shtml 

[45] “中华人民共和国和斯里兰卡民主社会主义共和国联合声明 [Joint Statement of the People’s Republic of China and the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka],” MFA, October 21, 2023, https://www.mfa.gov.cn/web/ziliao_674904/1179_674909/202310/t20231021_11165407.shtml 

[46] “新时代中国的周边外交政策展望” [Outlook for China’s Foreign Policy toward its Neighbors in the New Era], MFA, October 24, 2023, https://www.mfa.gov.cn/web/ziliao_674904/1179_674909/202310/t20231024_11167069.shtml 

[47] These ranged from China’s nuclear policy of no-first use and support for the Nonproliferation Treaty to support for Covid-19 immunizations and climate policies, from the Global Data Security Initiative to UN peacekeeping and to various proposals for the Middle East. See Wang Yi, “Acting on the Global Security Initiative to Safeguard World Peace and Tranquility.”

[48] Kewalramani, “China’s Global Security Initiative,” p. 11.

[49] “Joint Statement On Deepening Comprehensive Strategic Cooperation Between The Peoples Republic Of China And The Republic Of Indonesia,” October 18, 2023, https://kemlu.go.id/portal/en/read/5393/siaran_pers/joint-statement-on-deepening-comprehensive-strategic-cooperation-between-the-peoples-republic-of-china-and-the-republic-of-indonesia-18-october-2023-beijing#:~:text=Indonesia%20takes%20note%20of%20the,common%20security%2C%20and%20cultural%20prosperity 

[50] “Joint Statement between the Kingdom of Thailand and the People’s Republic of China on Working towards a Thailand - China Community with a Shared Future for Enhanced Stability, Prosperity and Sustainability,” November 19, 2022, https://www.mfa.go.th/en/content/thchnjointstatement19112565-2?cate= ; https://www.fmprc.gov.cn/eng/zxxx_662805/202301/t20230105_11001064.html 

[51] “ASEAN-China Joint Statement on Strengthening Common and Sustainable Development,” ASEAN Main Portal, November 12, 2022, https://asean.org/asean-china-joint-statement-on-strengthening-common-and-sustainable-development/; “ASEAN-China Joint Statement on Mutually Beneficial Cooperation on the ASEAN Outlook on the Indo-Pacific,” ASEAN Main Portal, September 6, 2023, https://asean.org/asean-china-joint-statement-on-mutually-beneficial-cooperation-on-the-asean-outlook-on-the-indo-pacific/.

[52] “Chairman’s Statement of the 26th ASEAN-China Summit,” ASEAN Main Portal, September 9, 2023, https://asean.org/chairmans-statement-of-the-26th-asean-china-summit/.

[53] “Nepal Seeks to Sidestep China’s GSI Request,” The Kathmandu Post, September 25, 2023, https://kathmandupost.com/national/2023/09/25/nepal-seeks-to-sidestep-china-s-gsi-request 

[54] “President Xi Jinping Chairs the Inaugural China-Central Asia Summit and Delivers a Keynote Speech,” MFA, May 19, 2023, https://www.mfa.gov.cn/eng/zxxx_662805/202305/t20230519_11080116.html 

[55] “中国—中亚峰会西安宣言 [China-Central Asia Summit Xi’an Declaration],” MFA, May 19, 2023, https://www.mfa.gov.cn/zyxw/202305/t20230519_11080194.shtml 

[56] Afghanistan, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Egypt, India, Iraq, Israel, Jordan, Qatar, South Korea, and Turkey

[57] Wang Qishan, “Meeting Challenges with Stronger Solidarity and Coordination,” MFA, October 13, 2022, http://us.china-embassy.gov.cn/eng/zgyw/202210/t20221013_10782823.htm 

[58] “Remarks of the CICA Secretary General Ambassador Kairat Sarybay at the Panel ‘The Global Security Initiative: Addressing Security Challenges and Promoting World Peace’ at the Boao Forum for Asia 2024,” https://www.s-cica.org/index.php?view=page&t=speeches&id=226 

[59] The BRICS comprises Brazil, Russia, India, China, South Africa, Iran, Egypt, Ethiopia, and the United Arab Emirates.

[60] “Joint Statement between the People’s Republic of China and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia,” Embassy of PRC in Saudi Arabia, December 10, 2022, http://sa.china-embassy.gov.cn/zt/202212/t20221210_10988579.htm 

[61] “Remarks by Chinese President Xi Jinping at the 15th BRICS Summit,” August 23, 2023, China Daily, https://www.chinadaily.com.cn/a/202308/23/WS64e6149da31035260b81dd67.html 

[62] Joint Statement between the People’s Republic of China and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.”

[63] “习近平在中国—海湾阿拉伯国家合作委员会峰会上的主旨讲话 [Speech by President Xi Jinping at China-GCC Summit],” MFA, December 9, 2022, https://www.mfa.gov.cn/web/ziliao_674904/zyjh_674906/202212/t20221210_10988380.shtml

[64] “Joint Statement Between the People’s Republic of China and the Gulf Cooperation Council,” MFA, December 10, 2022, https://www.mfa.gov.cn/web/zyxw/202212/t20221210_10988401.shtml 

[65] Fung and Lam, “Mixed Report Card.”

[66] Pending release of data on projects beginning in 2023 and thereafter, which are not yet available. On the Trust Fund and its use by China, see Carla Freeman, Bates Gill, and Alison McFarland, “China and the Reshaping of Global Conflict Prevention Norms,” Peaceworks, no. 190, September 12, 2023, https://www.usip.org/publications/2023/09/china-and-reshaping-global-conflict-prevention-norms 

[67] Fung and Lam, “Mixed Report Card,” p. 30

[68] Fung and Lam, “Mixed Report Card,” p. 32

[69] “Research Guides: UN General Assembly Resolutions Tables: 77th Session (2022-2023),” Dag Hammarskjöld Library, accessed May 9, 2024, https://research.un.org/en/docs/ga/quick/regular/77

[70]“中非合作论坛第八届部长级会议成果落实协调人会议联合声明[Joint Statement of the Eighth FOCAC Ministerial Meeting],” Embassy of PRC in Republic of South Africa, August 19, 2022, http://za.china-embassy.gov.cn/zngx/202208/t20220819_10746048.htm 

[71] “首届中阿峰会利雅得宣言 [Riyadh Declaration],” MFA, December 10, 2022, https://www.mfa.gov.cn/web/zyxw/202212/t20221210_10988459.shtml 

[72] “Wang Yi Attends the Second Middle East Security Forum,” MFA, September 21, 2022, https://www.mfa.gov.cn/eng/zxxx_662805/202209/t20220923_10770221.html.

[73] “Wang Yi: Saudi-Iranian Dialogue in Beijing Is a Victory for Peace,” MFA, March 10, 2023, https://www.fmprc.gov.cn/mfa_eng/zxxx_662805/202303/t20230313_11039691.html 

[74] This account is based on Saeed Azimi, “The Story Behind China’s Role in the Iran-Saudi Deal,” Commentary, Stimson Center, March 13, 2023, https://www.stimson.org/2023/the-story-behind-chinas-role-in-the-iran-saudi-deal/#:~:text=Jacopo%20Scita%2C%20a%20policy%20fellow,China%20perceived%20the%20deal%20as 

[75] Special envoy coverage based on searches on the Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ website.

[76] Courtney J. Fung, “China’s Small Steps into UN Peacekeeping Are Adding Up,” IPI Global Observatory, May 24, 2023, https://theglobalobservatory.org/2023/05/chinas-small-steps-into-un-peacekeeping-are-adding-up/ 

[77] Paul Nantulya, “China’s Diplomacy in the Horn—Conflict Mediation as Power Politics,” Spotlight, Africa Center for Strategic Studies, October 12, 2022, https://africacenter.org/spotlight/china-diplomacy-horn-conflict-mediation-power-politics/


Photo credit: Kremlin.ru, CC BY 4.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0>, via Wikimedia Commons


 

Appendix

 

Table A1: Official Expressions of Support for the GSI in Joint Statements and Other Documents

 

Country

Organization

Joint Document Indicating Support?

Date

Language of Support

Notes

Kazakhstan

C+C5, CICA, SCO

Yes[a]

September 2022

Actively start cooperation and implement (积极开展协作, 落实)

 

Uzbekistan

C+C5, CICA, SCO

Yes[b]

September 2022

Support (支持)

 

Cambodia

ASEAN, CICA

Yes[c]

November 2022

Support and actively participate (支持并积极参与)

 

Mongolia

CICA

Yes[d]

November 2022

See notes

Qualified support, as the joint statement referred only to cooperation in specific sectors “under the framework” of the GSI (climate change and terrorism, corresponding to ‘non-traditional’ security threats).

Pakistan

CICA, SCO

Yes[e]

November 2022

Support (支持)

 

Lao PDR

ASEAN

Yes[f]

December 2022

Actively participate and implement (积极参与和践行)

 

Turkmenistan

C+C5

Yes[g]

January 2023

Resolutely and jointly implement (决心共同推动落实)

 

Iran

BRICS, CICA, SCO

Yes[h]

February 2023

Support (支持)

 

Malaysia

ASEAN

Yes[i]

March 2023

CN: Promote to realize (推动有关倡议落地生效) | MY: Support

Readouts of meeting of the same meeting between Malaysian PM and XJP indicate support.

Russia

BRICS, CICA, SCO

Yes[j]

March 2023

Jointly Implement 共同落实

 

Myanmar

ASEAN

Yes (See Notes)[k]

April 2023

Welcomes the GSI; willingness to work with China… to implement the GSI

Unilateral Myanmar MFA Statement

Kyrgyzstan

C+C5, CICA, SCO

Yes[l]

May 2023

Support (支持)

 

Tajikistan

C+C5, CICA, SCO

Yes[m]

May 2023

Support (支持)

 

Palestine

CICA

Yes[n]

June 2023

Highly regard and actively cooperate to implement (高度评价, 积极合作, 落实)

 

Ethiopia

BRICS

Yes[o]

October 2023

Appreciate and Support(赞赏并支持)

 

Sri Lanka

CICA

Yes[p]

October 2023

Resolutely Support and Actively Participate (坚定支持并积极参与)

 

Viet Nam

ASEAN, CICA

Yes[q]

December 2023

Support (支持)

 

Azerbaijan

CICA

Unclear[r]

September 2022

Support (支持)

PRC readout of Xi Jinping meeting with the Azeri President mentions support, but the Azeri readout does not mention the GSI.[s] 

Kuwait

CICA, GCC

Unclear[t]

September 2023

Resolutely Support and Actively Participate (坚定支持并积极参与)

PRC readout of meeting between Xi Jinping and the Crown Prince of Kuwait has supportive language, but Kuwaiti readout does not mention the GSI.[u]

Afghanistan

CICA

No

N/A

N/A

 

Bahrain

CICA, GCC

No

N/A

N/A

 

Bangladesh

CICA

No

N/A

N/A

 

Brazil

BRICS

No

N/A

N/A

April 2023 joint statement “welcomed” (欢迎) the GDI but did not mention the GSI[v]

Brunei Darussalam

ASEAN

No

N/A

N/A

 

Egypt

BRICS, CICA

No

N/A

N/A

 

India

BRICS, CICA, SCO

No

N/A

N/A

 

Indonesia

ASEAN

No

N/A

N/A

October 2023 Joint Statement “takes note of the GSI and GCI,” whereas Indonesia joined the Group of Friends of the GDI.[w] Coverage of the same meeting that led to the Joint Statement reports that Indonesia “appreciates the series of important initiatives.”[x]

Iraq

CICA

No

N/A

N/A

At a 2022 December meeting, XJP “welcomed” Iraq to join the GSI.[y]

Israel

CICA

No

N/A

N/A

 

Jordan

CICA

No

N/A

N/A

 

Oman

GCC

No

N/A

N/A

 

Philippines

ASEAN

No

N/A

N/A

January 2023 Joint Statement agreed to “explore possible cooperation for mutual benefit regarding the GSI,” whereas Philippines joined the Group of Friends of the GDI.[z]

Qatar

CICA, GCC

No

N/A

N/A

 

Saudi Arabia

BRICS, GCC

No

N/A

N/A

December 2022 Joint Statement “appreciated” (赞赏) the GSI while “supporting” (支持) the GDI.[aa]

Singapore

ASEAN

No

N/A

N/A

 

South Africa

BRICS

No

N/A

N/A

August 2022 joint statement of a Forum on China-Africa Cooperation meeting of coordinators including a South African diplomat indicated that they “welcomed and supported” [bb] the GSI, but the August 2023 China-South Africa joint statement makes no reference to the GSI.[cc]

South Korea

CICA

No

N/A

N/A

 

Thailand

ASEAN, CICA

No

N/A

N/A

Nov 2022 Joint Statement agreed to “explore cooperation under the framework of the GSI,” whereas “both sides attached great importance to strengthening cooperation under the GDI.”[dd] A subsequent joint press communiqué in Oct 2023 would repeat this ambiguous language.[ee] Chinese readouts of meetings in Feb 2023[ff] and Jan 2024[gg] report Thai support for GSI, while the Thai readouts have more ambiguous language.

Turkey

CICA

No

N/A

N/A

At a 2023 July meeting with Wang Yi, Turkish Foreign Minister “thinks that the Global Initiatives proposed by XJP have strategic significance” (土方认为习近平主席提出的全球倡议具有战略意义).[hh]

United Arab Emirates

BRICS, CICA, GCC

No

N/A

N/A

July 2022 PRC readout of meeting between UAE President and Yang Jiechi notes that China “appreciated the UAE for its support of the GDI and GSI (中方高度赞赏阿方支持全球发展倡议和全球安全倡议)”, but no mention of either initiatives by the UAE.[ii]

Appendix notes:

[a] https://www.fmprc.gov.cn/zyxw/202209/t20220915_10766226.shtml 

[b] https://www.fmprc.gov.cn/zyxw/202209/t20220915_10766621.shtml 

[c] https://us.china-embassy.gov.cn/chn/zgyw/202211/t20221111_10973004.htm 

[d] http://politics.people.com.cn/n1/2022/1129/c1001-32576301.html 

[e] https://www.mfa.gov.cn/web/ziliao_674904/1179_674909/202211/t20221102_10799301.shtml 

[f] https://www.gov.cn/xinwen/2022-12/01/content_5729912.htm 

[g] https://www.mfa.gov.cn/web/ziliao_674904/1179_674909/202301/t20230106_11003592.shtml 

[h] http://br.china-embassy.gov.cn/zgyw/202302/t20230216_11025836.htm 

[i] https://www.mfa.gov.cn/zyxw/202303/t20230331_11052760.shtml; https://www.kln.gov.my/web/guest/-/historic-meeting-between-yab-prime-minister-dato-seri-anwar-bin-ibrahim-and-his-excellency-president-xi-jinping-31-march-2023 

[j] http://cpc.people.com.cn/n1/2023/0322/c64094-32648991.html 

[k] https://myanmar.gov.mm/news-media/news/-/asset_publisher/9ZewUq5mfR5F/content/position-of-myanmar-towards-global-security-initiative-gsi-proposed-by-mr-xi-jinping-president-of-the-people-s-republic-of-china?_com_liferay_asset_publisher_web_portlet_AssetPublisherPortlet_INSTANCE_9ZewUq5mfR5F_redirect=https%3A%2F%2Fmyanmar.gov.mm%2Fnews-media%2Fnews%3Fp_p_id%3Dcom_liferay_asset_publisher_web_portlet_AssetPublisherPortlet_INSTANCE_9ZewUq5mfR5F%26p_p_lifecycle%3D0%26p_p_state%3Dnormal%26p_p_mode%3Dview%26_com_liferay_asset_publisher_web_portlet_AssetPublisherPortlet_INSTANCE_9ZewUq5mfR5F_cur%3D0%26p_r_p_resetCur%3Dfalse%26_com_liferay_asset_publisher_web_portlet_AssetPublisherPortlet_INSTANCE_9ZewUq5mfR5F_assetEntryId%3D181034792

[l] https://www.fmprc.gov.cn/chn/gxh/tyb/zyxw/202305/t20230518_11079705.html 

[m] https://www.fmprc.gov.cn/zyxw/202305/t20230518_11079610.shtml 

[n] https://www.mfa.gov.cn/web/ziliao_674904/1179_674909/202306/t20230614_11097775.shtml 

[o] https://www.mfa.gov.cn/zyxw/202310/t20231017_11162386.shtml 

[p] https://www.mfa.gov.cn/web/ziliao_674904/1179_674909/202310/t20231021_11165407.shtml 

[q] http://politics.people.com.cn/n1/2023/1214/c1001-40138329.html 

[r] https://us.china-embassy.gov.cn/zgyw/202209/t20220916_10766757.htm 

[s] https://president.az/en/articles/view/57205

[t] https://www.fmprc.gov.cn/chn/gxh/tyb/gdxw/202309/t20230922_11148326.html

[u] https://www.kuna.net.kw/ArticleDetails.aspx?id=3110343&language=en 

[v] https://www.mfa.gov.cn/web/ziliao_674904/1179_674909/202304/t20230414_11059627.shtml 

[w] https://kemlu.go.id/portal/en/read/5393/siaran_pers/joint-statement-on-deepening-comprehensive-strategic-cooperation-between-the-peoples-republic-of-china-and-the-republic-of-indonesia-18-october-2023-beijing#:~:text=Indonesia%20takes%20note%20of%20the,common%20security%2C%20and%20cultural%20prosperity 

[x] http://www.beltandroadforum.org/english/n101/2023/1018/c130-1155.html 

[y] http://un.china-mission.gov.cn/zgyw/202212/t20221209_10987971.htm 

[z] https://www.fmprc.gov.cn/eng/zxxx_662805/202301/t20230105_11001064.html 

[aa] http://sa.china-embassy.gov.cn/zt/202212/t20221210_10988579.htm

[bb] http://za.china-embassy.gov.cn/zngx/202208/t20220819_10746048.htm 

[cc] https://www.mfa.gov.cn/eng/wjdt_665385/2649_665393/202308/t20230823_11130511.html 

[dd] https://www.mfa.go.th/en/content/thchnjointstatement19112565-2?cate= 

[ee] https://www.mfa.go.th/en/content/jointpresscommuniquethailandandchina 

[ff] https://www.fmprc.gov.cn/eng/zxxx_662805/202302/t20230214_11024783.html; https://www.mfa.go.th/en/content/dpmfmvisitedchina0223-2 

[gg] https://www.fmprc.gov.cn/eng/gjhdq_665435/2675_665437/2787_663568/2789_663572/202401/t20240129_11235010.html; https://www.mfa.go.th/en/content/thcn280124-4?cate=5d5bcb4e15e39c306000683e  

[hh] https://www.mfa.gov.cn/wjbzhd/202307/t20230726_11118201.shtml 

[ii] https://www.mfa.gov.cn/web/gjhdq_676201/gj_676203/yz_676205/1206_676234/xgxw_676240/202207/t20220701_10713923.shtml


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