•China is also a victim of terrorism and is confronted with real threats from the East Turkistan Islamic Movement, an international terrorist group listed by the UN Security Council.
•We need to take a holistic approach to address both the symptoms and the root causes of terrorism and remove its breeding ground through comprehensive measures
The 13th Ministerial Plenary Meeting of the Global Counterterrorism Forum (GCTF) was held on September 20. Member of the Political Bureau of the CPC Central Committee and Foreign Minister Wang Yi delivered a written statement titled, “Acting on the Global Security Initiative to advance International Counterterrorism Cooperation”. During the meeting, Kenya and Kuwait were admitted to the Forum as new members.
Wang Yi noted that the world today is witnessing transformation and turbulence. Changes unseen in a century are unfolding at a faster pace. International counterterrorism has achieved notable effects. Yet there remain daunting difficulties and challenges. With terrorist and extremist forces stirring trouble and colluding with each other across borders, terrorist networks continue to spread and expand. The use of emerging technologies by terrorist groups has made it harder for the international community to forestall and frustrate terrorist activities.
Faced with terrorism, countries have a shared task to effectively address the root causes of the problem, and overcome the international counterterrorism dilemma. China is also a victim of terrorism and is confronted with real threats from the East Turkistan Islamic Movement, an international terrorist group listed by the UN Security Council. As it combats terrorism, China is also reflecting deeply on and exploring a solution to this pressing issue.
Last year, President Xi Jinping put forward the Global Security Initiative (GSI). The Initiative advocates the vision of common, comprehensive, cooperative and sustainable security, emphasizes maintaining security in both traditional and non-traditional domains, and calls for creating a new path to security that features dialogue over confrontation, partnership over alliance, and win-win over zero-sum mentality.
The GSI provides China’s proposals on meeting international security challenges, and offers new thinking for international counterterrorism cooperation. In the GSI Concept Paper, counterterrorism is among the 20 priorities of cooperation listed. China calls upon the international community to uphold the GSI’s vision and principles in advancing international counterterrorism cooperation and jointly make new contributions to the global fight against terrorism.
Wang Yi said that the vision of common, comprehensive, cooperative and sustainable security should be followed as a guiding philosophy. Countries need to commit to pursuing common security, respect and protect the security of every country, and crack down on terrorism. We need to take a holistic approach to address both the symptoms and the root causes of terrorism and remove its breeding ground through comprehensive measures covering political dialogue, economic recovery, betterment of people’s lives, mutual learning among civilizations, and international cooperation.
The purposes and principles of the UN Charter should be taken as our fundamental guidance. Countries need to safeguard and practice true multilateralism, and earnestly uphold and enhance the UN’s central role in coordinating international counterterrorism efforts. We should support the full implementation of the counterterrorism resolutions of the UN General Assembly, the UN Security Council, and the UN Global Counterterrorism Strategy, and work together to clamp down on all terrorist organisations and individuals listed by the UN Security Council.
Taking seriously the legitimate and just security concerns of all countries should be upheld as an important principle. Only focusing on terrorist groups that threaten oneself, but ignoring those menacing other countries, and even using these groups to serve one’s own geopolitical interests is not counterterrorism in the real sense. Smearing the justified counterterrorism efforts of other countries in the name of human rights, democracy and religion will find no support. These acts poison the international environment for counterterrorism cooperation and hurt the interests of others as well as one’s own. Hence, it is crucial to reject double standards and stand firmly against politicizing and instrumentalising counterterrorism.
Counterterrorism capacity building should be made a priority area. Faced with the new threats and challenges in counterterrorism, countries need to thoroughly study and actively address the impact of emerging technologies on global efforts against terrorism, and further deepen policy communication and pragmatic cooperation. We should work to channel more global resources to developing countries, assist with the capacity building of African countries, to help enhance their own ability to maintain security and peace.
The GCTF, as an important mechanism for global counterterrorism cooperation, is dedicated to summarising and sharing the experience gained among its members, and has played an active role in strengthening the capacity building for all members. Being important partners of international counterterrorism cooperation, GCTF members need to make concerted efforts and seek the biggest common denominator for cooperation. The Forum’s nimbleness and expertise should be fully harnessed to provide timely, pragmatic and effective public goods for capacity building in keeping with countries’ counterterrorism needs.
The Forum needs to step up communication and coordination with both international and regional organisations including the UN, the Shanghai Cooperation Organization and BRICS. The Forum is welcome to participate in counterterrorism exchanges and cooperation under the framework of the GSI, to pool wisdom, gather strength, and deliver tangible results for international counterterrorism cooperation.
China hopes and believes that the Forum, under the leadership of the new co-chairs, will produce new practical outcomes. China will join hands with all parties to effectively tackle the global terrorist threat, and make active contributions to realising lasting global peace and universal security.
Stephen Ndegwa is the Executive Director of South-South Dialogues, a Nairobi-based communications development think tank.