On Thursday, Chinese President Xi Jinping proposed a global security initiative that upholds the principle of indivisible security, a concept that was endorsed by Russia, but he didn't give any details on how it would be implemented.
During a video speech to the annual Boao Asia Forum, Xi said that the world should respect the sovereignty and territorial integrity of all countries while paying attention to the legitimate security concerns of all.
Xi told the gathering on the southern Chinese island of Hainan that we should uphold the principle of indivisibility of security, build a balanced, effective and sustainable security architecture and oppose the building of national security on the basis of insecurity.
In talks over Ukraine, Russia insists that Western governments respect the principle of indivisible security in 1999, so China and Russia have grown increasingly close, and China has refused to condemn Russia's Feb. 24 invasion of Ukraine, which Moscow calls a special operation to demilitarize the country. China blamed the Ukraine crisis on the eastward expansion of NATO.
The U.S. State Department spokeswoman Ned Price, responding to a question about Xi's speech at a regular briefing in Washington, said China continued to parrot some of what we heard from the Kremlin, including the concept of indivisible security. Price reiterated that China would face serious consequences if it gave material support for Russia's war effort in Ukraine, but Washington had not yet seen Beijing provide that kind of assistance to Moscow.
The United States would maintain the rules-based international system it had built with like-minded partners based on respect for human rights, sovereignty and self-determination, Price said.
He said that we are committed to upholding the various systems that certain countries around the world - including Russia and the PRC - seek to challenge and even destroy, and in certain instances he said, referring to the People's Republic of China.
Analysts note that this is the first time that China has argued for indivisible security outside the context of the Russia-Ukraine crisis, with implications for U.S. actions in Asia.
Li Mingjiang, associate professor at the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies in Singapore, said that if China deems its actions on Taiwan or the South China Sea as indivisible, it could invoke the concept of indivisible security to claim the moral high ground in retaliation.
Xi also reiterated China's opposition to unilateral sanctions and long-arm jurisdiction, without mentioning the West's punitive actions against Russia for its invasion of Ukraine.
China has repeatedly criticized Western sanctions, including those against Russia, but it has also been careful not to give assistance to Moscow that could lead to sanctions on Beijing.
Xi said that efforts are needed to stabilize global supply chains, but also said that China's economy is resilient and that its long-term trend has not changed.
Jude Blanchette, a China expert at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, said Xi's speech was likely an attempt to project existing elements of Beijing's foreign policy as solutions to current global instability.
I don't see how new architecture could be built around this, so I think this is an attempt to weave China's world view into the fabric of international security discourse, Blanchette said.