By Xing Guangcheng
July 16 of 2021 marks the 20th anniversary of the signing of the China-Russia Treaty of Good-neighborliness and Friendly Cooperation. On June 1, the 2021 China-Russia High-end Think Tank Forum was kicked off in Beijing. China-Russia relations shaped through development in the past two decades have been analyzed and summarized in an all-round manner in the forum, which has contributed wisdom to deepening the cooperation potential and widening the space for cooperation between the two countries in various fields. At the same time, it also released the Collected Works Celebrating the 20th Anniversary of the Signing of the China-Russia Treaty of Good-neighborliness and Friendly Cooperation, jointly composed by senior diplomats and well-known scholars from the two countries. This article is an excerpt from the thesis about current strategic consensuses reached between China and Russia on safeguarding strategic stability at the global level, as summarized by Xing Guangcheng, Director of the Institute of Chinese Borderland Studies, Chinese Academy of Social Sciences.
Both sides are alarmed at risks to global security situation
In 2016, the two heads of state made a judgement about the global strategic situation in the China-Russia Joint Statement on Strengthening Global Strategic Stability, and voiced concern over increasing "negative factors" affecting the global strategic stability. In a statement on strengthening contemporary global strategic stability between China and Russia released on June 5, 2019, China and Russia criticized certain countries for undermining or altering the current arms control, non-proliferation and the elimination of weapons of mass destruction system in the light of their own needs, or aiming to realize “absolute security” to seek a military strategic advantage. These actions are “hazardous”, to which China and Russia have expressed much concern.
First, “the risk of this trend lies first and foremost in the fact that these countries and their military-political alliances' pursuit of decisive advantages in military capabilities and related technology in order to achieve their interests through the threat or use of force in international affairs without hindrance. That is, they may blatantly ignore the basic security principle of undiminished security for all countries, attempting to sacrifice the security of other countries in exchange for their own.”
Second, the anti-ballistic missile issue is of “special concern.” Extraterritorial forces have deployed the “Aegis Ashore land-based missile defense system” in Europe and the “THAAD” system in the Asia-Pacific region and Northeast Asia.
Third, the long-range precision strike weapons developed by some countries like the “Prompt Global Strike” (PGS), may severely disrupt strategic balance and stability, and even worse, trigger a new round of arms race.
Fourth, “the threat of space weaponization and turning outer space into an arena of military confrontation is on the rise. The trend under development is sure to undermine strategic stability and threaten international security as a result.”
Fifth, “the threat of non-state actors acquiring chemical and biological weapons for terrorist and extremist activities has soared, which is a matter of great concern.”
The statement mentioned above shows that China and Russia have forewarned the US and its allies of political and diplomatic dangers that may undermine global strategic stability, sent early warning signals to the world, and warned the countries concerned not to continue to carry out these risky actions, which may otherwise bring substantial damage and threats to global strategic stability.
The root cause of the breakdown of global strategic balance and instability
In 2016, the heads of state of China and Russia pointed out in the China-Russia Joint Statement on Strengthening Global Strategic Stability that “some countries and alliances seeking to gain military superiority stubbornly refused to discuss reduction and restriction on weapons that can guarantee their decisive military superiority. This is exactly the root cause of the breakdown of global strategic balance and instability.”
The US measures taken for anti-ballistic missiles cannot directly solve the actual problems facing missile proliferation. In fact, this not only jeopardizes the strategic security interests of relevant countries in the region but also threatens the national strategic security interests of both China and Russia.
Repercussions from the disruption of global strategic stability
The US policy has led to the military growth out of control, shaking the global strategic stability system, which is running counter to the concept of achieving general and complete disarmament under effective international control. China and Russia believed that “individual countries’ attempt to gain unrestricted ability to exert military and political pressure on their opponents”, is but wantonly undermining the stability maintenance mechanism, the purpose of which is to guarantee their own geopolitical and even commercial interests. Therefore, China and Russia’s call for maintaining good relations between major powers is of great importance to solving global strategic issues.
China and Russia believed that the unilateral development and deployment of strategic anti-ballistic missile system around the world would have a negative impact on the international and regional strategic balance, security, and stability, and also undermine the foundation of formulating and using multilateral political and diplomatic means to deal with the proliferation of missiles and related technology.
Major measures taken to maintain global strategic stability
First, China and Russia emphasized the importance of maintaining good relations between major powers in resolving global strategic issues and clearly stated that all nuclear-weapon states bear the accountability and responsibility for their share of international security and global strategic stability.
Second, all nuclear-weapon states are supposed to abandon the Cold War and zero-sum game mentality, stop the unrestricted development of the global missile defense system, and reduce the role of nuclear weapons in their national security strategies, to effectively reduce the risk of nuclear wars. Instead, these great powers should try to resolve the concern through dialogue and consultation, increase mutual trust, consolidate common security, and in particular, avoid strategic misunderstandings and misjudgments.
Third, the China-Russia draft Treaty on the Prevention of the Placement of Weapons in Outer Space, the Threat or Use of Force against Outer Space Objects (PPWT), submitted to the Conference on Disarmament (CD) in Geneva on June 10, 2014, has served to kick off the negotiation procedure, with legally binding international agreements to guarantee non-weaponization of outer space reached, and promoting international initiatives and political obligations on “no first placement of weapons in outer space.” China and Russia expressed “serious concern” about the “realistic prospects of an arms race in outer space and the evolution of outer space into an arena for military confrontation threatening strategic stability”, and called for the prohibition of placing weapons of any type in outer space to help prevent severe threats to international peace and security, for which the international community is supposed to work together to improve relevant legal systems.
Fourth, the basic principles and arms control rules established in the final document signed in the first special session of the General Assembly devoted to disarmament in 1978 should be followed, which serve as important means to strengthen international security and stability. Disarmament and arms control should be carried out in a fair and balanced manner, facilitating to consolidate the security of every country.
Fifth, “strategic stability” cannot be regarded as a purely military concept in the field of nuclear weapons, which cannot embody the contemporary multi-faceted strategic issues of great breadth. Instead, strategic stability should be viewed as a state of international relations from a broader perspective.
Sixth, China and Russia advocated upholding the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), which is one of the foundations of today’s international security system. As a unique international treaty, the NPT realizes the harmony and unity of equal cooperation in terms of nuclear non-proliferation and disarmament and peaceful uses of nuclear energy (that is, the three pillars of the NPT). Both sides also stressed strengthening the nuclear non-proliferation system and proactively promoting the three pillars of NPT. Relevant countries should abandon the nuclear sharing policy and withdraw all nuclear weapons deployed outside nuclear-weapon states.
In addition, China and Russia also expressed their support for the Convention on the Prohibition of the Development, Production and Stockpiling of Bacteriological (Biological) and Toxin Weapons and on their Destruction (BTWC) and the Convention on the Prohibition of the Development, Production, Stockpiling and Use of Chemical Weapons and on their Destruction, etc.
Editor's note: This article is originally published on ThePaper.cn, and is translated from Chinese into English and edited by the China Military Online. The information, ideas or opinions appearing in this article do not necessarily reflect the views of eng.chinamil.com.cn.