- MUNICH, Germany (UPI) - There was a cloud no larger than the size of
a man's hand in the sky of U.S. global leadership at the annual NATO Security
Conference, or Wehrkunde, in Munich, Germany, this weekend. But it will
get bigger. It was the quiet emergence of China as the leader of a potentially
global block dedicated to oppose the United States.
When Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Wang Yi addressed the prestigious annual
forum of NATO defense ministers in this historic Bavarian city, he heralded
the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, founded only last June, as the crucial
"new security concept" necessary to guarantee peace and stability
in Central Asia, and to lead the fight there against terrorism.
So important was this idea of a "new security concept" to Chinese
policy that Wang used the phrase four times in his formal speech.
He also clearly identified what it was.
"The birth and growth of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization embodies
the practice of the new security concept by China, Russia and some Central
Asian countries," Wang told the conference of defense and political
leaders from more than 40 countries.
The SCO was set up last June 15 at a summit in the southern Chinese city
of Shanghai attended by Chinese President Jiang Zemin, Russian President
Vladimir Putin and the leaders of several Central Asian nations. Its military
cooperation structure was deliberately modeled in part on the old Soviet-led
Warsaw Pact and it includes nations with more than a quarter of the human
race with more than 2 million soldiers under arms.
Whether by fortuitous accident or deliberate design, the organization was
set up the very same day President George W. Bush, speaking in the Polish
capital, Warsaw, pledged to extend the NATO alliance to include all the
nations of Central and Eastern Europe.
The Russian and Chinese leaders in Shanghai left no doubt that the SCO,
also referred to as the Shanghai Pact, was a military cooperation organization
devoted to preserve what they called "multi-polarity" in the
world. "Multi-polarity" is a Russian and Chinese diplomatic word
for opposing U.S. global domination which, by contrast, Moscow and Beijing
both see as "uni-polar."
The creation of the Shanghai Pact last June was virtually ignored in the
American media, though national security adviser Condoleezza Rice was reported
to have taken its creation seriously enough to seek to woo Russia with
Later, Putin's rapid and controversial decision to fully support U.S. military
operations to topple the Taliban regime in Afghanistan and to destroy the
al Qaida terrorist organization the Taliban protected appeared to show
Russia was not embracing China fully and still wanted to retain and develop
strong ties with Washington.
But U.S. statements and moves to retain its military presence in Central
Asia since the toppling of the Taliban have infuriated Russian officials
and media pundits. Several of them have compared the move to the United
States abandoning its 1990-91 pledge to Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev
never to try and expand NATO to include former Soviet Warsaw Pact military
allies in Central Europe. But at the 1997 NATO Madrid summit, the United
States did just that, opening the way for the Visegrad Three states --
Poland, the Czech Republic and Hungary -- to join the Atlantic Alliance.
At the Munich Wehrkunde, Russian Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov did not
mention the Shanghai Pact in his own speech. Yet it was the centerpiece
Wang spoke in English, fluently but flatly. His speech and delivery lacked
any rhetorical flourishes and journalists covering the conference paid
little attention to it even while was delivering it.
But Wang's speech marked an important diplomatic milestone. It marked for
the first time the emergence of China on the world scene not just as a
great power and rising potential superpower in its own right, but also
as the clear leader of an international security organization which by
its very nature revealed sweeping ambitions for regional hegemony ambitions
comparable to NATO and the old Soviet-led Warsaw Pact.
The SCO, Wang said, already "played a positive role in maintaining
peace and stability in the region (of Central Asia) and made (a) due contribution
to the ongoing international cooperation against terrorism." Already,
China and its fellow SCO members, he said "have taken joint steps
to fight terrorism through closer regional multilateral cooperation."
Wang urged the need to close the global gap between rich and poor nations
which, he said, created the breeding grounds of poverty, resentment and
hatred from which terrorism sprang.
"Fighting terrorism needs to address both its symptoms and root caused"
he said. "... An important prerequisite in this connection is to resolve
the question of development and narrow the gap between the (global) North
and the South."
He concluded his speech by making clear China did not believe the current
world order could produce lasting peace and prosperity, and that it was
ready to establish far-reaching ties with other nations to create a "fair
and equitable new world order" that would.
"China is ready to strengthen its coordination and cooperation with
all other countries in the conduct of international affairs, security included,
and work vigorously toward a world that enjoys lasting peace and universal
prosperity with a fair and equitable new international order," he
Readers of UPI Analysis should remember that final phrase "fair and
equitable new international order" with which Wang ended his speech.
It clearly indicates China finds the current world order neither capable
of bringing peace and prosperity, nor maintaining either of them. Beijing,
therefore, is determined to "work vigorously" toward creating
such a "new international order" and is "ready to strengthen
its coordination and cooperation" with any other country that feels
the same way.
No major world power has used that kind of language since the Soviet Union
at the height of the Cold War before its last, mild spring period of détente.
Wang never raised his voice and did not bang any table like Nazis or many
old Soviet leaders. And he never criticized the United States by name.
As a result, no one paid any attention to what he actually said.
Copyright © 2002 United Press International. All rights reserved.