3rd China-Africa Peace and Security Forum held in Beijing

China Military Online
Li Jiayao
2023-08-31 10:55:13

By Li Chun

The plenum of the 3rd China-Africa Peace and Security Forum, which is attended by over 100 senior representatives from the African Union and nearly 50 African countries, is held in Beijing on August 29. (Photo by Cui Nan/China News Service)

During the 3rd China-Africa Peace and Security Forum that kicked off in Beijing on August 29, several Chinese and foreign representatives described China-Africa security cooperation as successful and important, not only because it is conducive to tackling the various security challenges, but more importantly because China's respect for African countries' independence and its approach of helping them foster the capability of independent development are welcomed and appreciated.

Tackling unprecedented risks and challenges

General Li Shangfu, Chinese State Councilor and Defense Minister, delivered a keynote speech at the forum, saying that as the world enters a new period of turbulence and transformation, humanity is faced with unprecedented risks and challenges. Strengthening the China-Africa security cooperation is to tackle the various international security dilemmas.

Around the world, geopolitical changes are bringing growing uncertainties and the theme of peace and development is severely challenged. In Africa, although the regional security situation is turning for the better, traditional security issues such as military coups and civil war haven't been totally vanquished, while non-traditional ones like terrorism and illegal immigration are on the rise.

Bankole Adeoye, African Union Commissioner for Political Affairs, Peace and Security, said at the plenum of the forum that with the constant changes in the global security landscape, the peace and security architecture and governance approach in Africa is being challenged and that African countries share common interests with China in security, stability, common progress, and other areas. It is critical for the African Union to forge a mutually beneficial relationship with China, he said.

Aboubacar Serme, operational assistant to Malian army chief of staff, pointed out that China-Africa security cooperation is a successful example with great potential in a number of domains to help African countries cope with the current multi-faceted security crisis.

The world is undergoing profound changes, and China and African countries are striving for their own development. Strengthening China-Africa security cooperation against such a background, said Zhao Xiaozhuo, a researcher at the PLA Academy of Military Sciences, helps create a more secure space of development for China, Africa and the world in general.

Principle of cooperation: non-interference in other countries' internal affairs

"China never imposes its will upon others or interferes in the internal affairs of African countries. Its aid to Africa, including military aid, comes with no political strings attached, and all security work is always carried out through consultation with the African countries involved," said Li Shangfu in his speech. "These make the important cornerstone underpinning China-Africa mutual trust in the security domain."

According to Aboubacar Serme, the security cooperation with China follows the principle of non-interference in other countries' internal affairs, African countries attach great importance to independence. It is because China treats every country equally that African countries can better understand China's international and bilateral cooperation, Serme said.

The Global Security Initiative (GSI) proposed by China, of which respecting the sovereignty and territorial integrity of all countries  is one of the key tenets, offers a new direction for rooting up the very source of international conflicts, coping with international security challenges, and realizing peace and development around the globe.

The GSI proposed by China will help African countries enhance their security capability, and the joint efforts made by African countries and China in response to security challenges have reaped good results in many domains. The two sides should strengthen cooperation to ensure the realization of these important initiatives, said Gambian Defence Minister Sering Modou Njie.

An approach placing equal emphasis on security and development

When answering questions from other participants at the forum, Khalid Megawer, assistant to the Egyptian Defense Minister, mentioned that security must be bolstered by economy. "They are closely related and highly interdependent," he noted.

"Development promotes security and security safeguards development," said Zhao Xiaozhuo, adding that for many African countries, security and development are intertwined, so they should place equal emphasis on both in order to resolve their security issues.

China has embedded its security cooperation with Africa in the context of enhancing the continent's capability of maintaining stability. It has launched the Outlook on Peace and Development in the Horn of Africa  to help eliminate rural disparity, carried out security aid projects in the joint construction of Belt and Road cooperation , peacekeeping and counterterrorism, social security maintenance, and other areas, and helped African countries reinforce their defense and military building.

As for the saying that China is trying to expand its geopolitical influence through cooperation with Africa, Gambian Defence Minister Sering Modou Njie couldn't agree with. According to him, global issues should be resolved with global methods. The cooperation between African countries and China serves their respective interests, with defense and security cooperation being of special importance.

According to Zhao, African countries have been watching China closely in recent years and are amazed by its rapid development, social stability, and ever higher living standards of the people. Many of them hope to draw on China's development model. "Through China-Africa cooperation, we are not enforcing our model upon them. We are just giving them one more option."

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