By Shao Longfei, Wang Shimin and Feng Xinhua
From October 24 to 26, 2018, the China Association for Military Science (CAMS) and China Institute for International Strategic Society (CIISS) will co-host the 8th Beijing Xiangshan Forum. Senior Colonel Zhao Xiaozhuo, director with the Secretariat’s Office of the forum and research fellow at the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) Academy of Military Science, talked to journalists about the preparations, background and agenda of the forum.
Question: The 8th Beijing Xiangshan Forum is about to begin. As the director of the Secretariat’s Office, could you please brief us on the preparations for the forum?
Zhao Xiaozhuo: According to the schedule, a Chinese Party and state leader will attend the opening banquet of the forum and deliver a keynote speech. General Wei Fenghe, Chinese state councilor and defense minister, will deliver a keynote speech.
As of October 22, sixty-seven countries and seven international organizations have confirmed that they will send official delegations to attend the forum. Among them, nearly 50 foreign officials are at the vice-ministerial level and above. In addition, 82 foreign and 38 Chinese experts and scholars, as well as some observers will also attend the forum. There are a total of more than 500 official representatives and guests. Thus, compared with previous iterations of the Beijing Xiangshan Forum, this year’s forum will be the largest one, both in terms of specification and scale.
Question: Could you please introduce the background of the 8th Beijing Xiangshan Forum?
Zhao Xiaozhuo: At present, the international situation is undergoing profound and complex changes, and peaceful development faces multiple challenges. The Cold War mentality, power politics, unilateralism and protectionism are clearly on the rise, and issues related to regional turmoil, terrorism, natural disasters and climate change are constantly arising.
Once again, human beings are at a crossroad of history: whether they will fight alone or work together and whether they will take the beggar-thy-neighbor policy or pursue mutual benefit and win-win results. These are the choices that all countries must make in our time. This forum is to be held in the context of the complex evolution of international security situation, and the debate on security philosophy will run through the forum.
Question: With the increasing improvement of both the specification and scale of the Beijing Xiangshan Forum, what do you think will be the highlights of this forum as a member of the preparation team?
Zhao Xiaozhuo: What is certain is that the forum will become a platform for enhancing mutual trust and promoting cooperation, and make positive contributions to safeguarding world peace and stability.
The 8th Beijing Xiangshan Forum will have many highlights. Firstly, it’s extensively representative. This forum focuses on Asia-Pacific and obviously has a global perspective. Representatives from Asia, Oceania, America, Europe, Africa and Latin America, and many defense and military leaders, and experts and scholars will come together to exchange ideas on the topic issues.
Secondly, developing countries will form the main voice. Most of the forum’s speakers come from small- and medium-sized countries, which have fewer opportunities to speak on the international stage and have weaker say. However, the Beijing Xiangshan Forum provides a solid platform for them to make their own voices heard and express their own appeals.
Thirdly, there will be a face-to-face exchange between parties in dispute. The forum topics focus on hot issues, and all parties in dispute will sent personnel to participate in the exchanges. For example, there are representatives from both Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) and Republic of Korea (ROK) participating in the discussion of “new security pattern for Northeast Asia”. Representatives from Israel and Arab countries like Saudi Arabia, UAE and Turkey will talked about the “way out for security issues in the Middle East”.
Fourthly, its form will be rich and varied. For example, a seminar for young officers and scholars has been added. Young military officers and scholars from all continents will discuss international and regional security issues from the perspective of the younger generation, which will not only help deepen exchanges, communication and friendship, but also bring new hopes of resolving international security issues in the long run.
Question: According to the agenda, what international and regional issues will be the focus of the forum?
Zhao Xiaozhuo: Participants in this year’s forum will exchange views on topics of “new ideas for and new approaches to international security governance”, “terrorism threats and countermeasures”, “reality and vision of maritime security cooperation”, and “challenges to and cooperation of UN peacekeeping”.
They will discuss topics on sub-forums focused on the new security pattern for Northeast Asia and the way out for security issues in the Middle East, the assessment of Asia-Pacific military security mutual-trust mechanism, artificial intelligence and the evolution of warfare forms.
We believe that the 8th Beijing Xiangshan Forum will put heads together, narrow differences, and build consensus so that participants can talk about peace and development of the Asia-Pacific region and the world, and draw a blueprint for the win-win cooperation.