SHANGHAI – China’s president called Tuesday for the creation of a new Asian structure for security cooperation based on a regional group that includes Russia and Iran and excludes the U.S.
President Xi Jinping spoke at a meeting in Shanghai of the Conference on Interaction and Confidence-building measures in Asia (CICA), an obscure group that has taken on significance as Beijing tries to extend its influence and limit the role of the United States.
“We need to innovate our security cooperation (and) establish new regional security cooperation architecture,” said Xi, speaking to a group of leaders that included Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Xi made no mention of Beijing’s conflict with Vietnam over the deployment of a Chinese oil rig in a disputed portion of the South China Sea.
CICA, whose 24 member nations also include Korea, Thailand and Turkey, should become a “security dialogue and cooperation platform” and should “establish a defense consultation mechanism,” Xi said. He said it should create a “security response center” for major emergencies.
The proposal is the latest effort by Beijing to build up groups of Asian or developing governments to offset the influence of the U.S. and other Western governments in global affairs.
In 2001, it founded the Shanghai Cooperation Organization with Russia and four Central Asia nations to counterbalance rising American influence in the region and to combat Islamic and separatist political movements.
Beijing sees common cause with other CICA members such as Russia and Sri Lanka in promoting a political model that pairs autocratic government with a market-oriented economy in defiance of the Western liberal democratic model. Japan, seen by Beijing as a strategic rival, is an observer.
The group is unlikely to produce a real security alliance, said Ross Babbage, chairman of Australia’s Kokoda Foundation, a security think tank.
“Alliances are not based on a piece of paper. They’re the result of real trust and interaction,” he said. “There may be some agreements ahead, but in reality, I don’t see an alliance emerging.”