National security considerations amid global fight against COVID-19

China Military Online
Chen Lufan
2020-05-20 20:04:00

By Zhang Junsheng and Pan Di

Changes in the international strategic landscape are mostly related to major security events. How has the COVID-19 pandemic affected the world order? What challenges has it incurred to our national security? What should we do to fortify the security barrier? Two experts from National Defence University of People's Liberation Army shared their views on relevant issues. The following is transcript of the interview with Liu Wanxia, director of teaching and research office of international strategy of the National Security College and Prof. Ma Gang.

National external security faces challenges.

Reporter: How has the COVID-19 outbreak affected the world in terms of the international situation and national security?

Ma Gang: The outbreak has, to some extent, changed our way of production and life and exerted far-reaching impacts on the international situation. It is triggering changes in the international order.

The outbreak, like a mirror, has reflected a wide array of problems in the existing international system, order, and relations and also distinctly reveals the differences in each country’s development model. Most strikingly, the outbreak has completely laid bare certain western countries’ true color of shamelessly scapegoating others and disregarding international morality and justice, fully exposing the negative influences of western values.

In fighting the coronavirus, almost all countries have realized that no one can isolate itself and stay unscathed in front of a global crisis and that closer cooperation is the only way to truly improve global governance system and achieve common prosperity and development.

In the meantime, the world has seen clearly the damages brought to it by anti-globalization moves, unilateralism, and protectionism, which has prompted more countries to work toward a more equitable and reasonable international order. Once this evolves into an irreversible trend, the international power balance will be significantly changed, the existing international system and order will be deeply adjusted, and the global landscape will go through accelerated evolution amid hardships.

Response to unconventional security threats should be intensified.

Reporter: People have generally had a sense of crisis in front of the outbreak, but this crisis awareness is different from that resulting from conventional war threats or military threats. How would you comment on that?

Liu Wanxia: The COVID-19 pandemic is a typical unconventional security threat. Unlike conventional security threats, such as the conflicts of war, that generate direct impacts, unconventional ones often result in sustained, oppressive changes and damages that create immense psychological panic and anxiety among the public and society. The outbreak is a wake-up call for us to recognize further the complexity of the national security situation at the moment.

Ma Gang: I agree. Unconventional security challenges are no less damaging than conventional ones. In 2008, the international financial crisis that broke out in the US and spread to the whole world was a financial security issue, which was a kind of unconventional security threat, with lingering impacts on the world even today. The COVID-19 outbreak has caused equally immeasurable consequences to the world and human society, with more than 4.6 million infections and 300,000 deaths worldwide as of now.

History and present reality both prove that we must take a multi-dimensional view of national security. Unconventional security threats are not isolated, but closely related and interdependent, not only among themselves but also with conventional security threats. So, from the perspective of overall national security, it is absolutely necessary to update strategic planning as a response to unconventional security threats.

Efforts should be made to create a sound international security situation.

Reporter: Faced with such a complicated international situation, what should China do to cope with the new challenges and better safeguard national security?

Liu Wanxia: Faced with the ongoing international changes, we should take more proactive steps to promote building the community with a shared future for mankind, and jump out of such conventional western mindset and theoretical framework as “zero-sum game” and “security dilemma.” We should also expand the influence of the concept of “new mode of international relations” for which the first step is enlarging the convergence point of each country’s interests and take that as the starting point toward win-win cooperation.

Ma Gang: To build a community with a shared future for mankind and create a sound international environment and security situation, we need to gain the recognition and understanding of the majority of countries both through our actions and the multi-level, multi-channel cooperation with other countries.

First, we should fulfill our due responsibilities as a major country, increase input in international affairs that reflect the common values and improve the common wellbeing of mankind, and gain more respect and recognition.

Second, we should cooperate more closely with other countries on global topics, engage more actively in international and regional political, economic and security cooperation, and take more initiative in international affairs.

Third, confronted with the complicated security situation now, we should be more confident and determined to settle international disputes through peaceful cooperation and consultation.

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