Non-Traditional Security and International Cooperation between China and India
Prof. Wang Dehua, Director, Institute of South and Central Asia Studies, Shanghai
The concept of "non-traditional security" in China is very new, with the term being rarely spoken of about three years ago. However, in recent years, there has been increased focus on "non-traditional security."
There exists a debate in academic communities of Western and Chinese scholars over the concept of security. For Western scholars, there exist five aspects of security, which are:
1. Which values can be threatened
2. What threatens those vales
3. Which means can be used to handle the threats
4. Who can provide security against the threat
5. Who should pay the cost of security and protection
For the Chinese academic circle, the opinions on "non-traditional security" can be briefly classified into the following categories:
The first category holds that the Non-traditional security is the expansion of security issues, which absorbs the concept of "human security", and shapes a newly integrated and revised concept of security. This is a mankind-centric form of security. The second category regards "non-traditional security" as a broadly-defined security. The third category thinks that a "sustainable security" distinguished from "traditional security" should be established. The fourth category holds that "Non-traditional security" is a concept putting more emphasis on "human security". The fifth category puts an emphasis on the background of globalization of "non-traditional" security.
The characteristics of threats to "non-traditional security" are their suddenness, cross-border nature, diversification, inter-activeness and "outward spilling" or "inward flow." China and India face a common global threat. Military security can be described as traditional security, and a number of other such key features can be placed in the same basket. At present there are nine major challenges in the field of non-traditional security which both India and China face. These are:
1. Common challenge on economic security
2. Common challenges on security of population and resources
3. Common challenge from ethnic separatism
4. Common challenge from religious extremism
5. Common challenge from terrorism
6. Common challenge from proliferation of weapons
7. Common challenge from information security
8. Common challenge from epidemics
9. Common challenge from pirates, smuggling and drugs.
As an example of the economic challenges facing the two countries can be seen in the economic fallout of the 1997 economic crisis which started in Thailand. India and China, particularly Hong Kong were affected by this crisis. Secondly, on the issue of population and resources, India has a favorable demographic outlook. This is because it has a much younger population to provide for human resources.
India and China face a number of separatist movements. In India, notable examples are the militancy in Kashmir and the Khalistan movement and the violence in the Northeast. China faces similar challenges, from Tibet and Taiwan. Terrorism has been afflicting India on a much more severe level than it has, China. The latter has been safer from domestic terrorism, but has faced threats outside China, such as in Pakistan and in regions of Africa, where Chinese individuals are employed.
Proliferation of weapons, especially small arms and not only weapons of mass destruction, is an area in which India and China can cooperate and work together. This is because both countries are committed to non-proliferation. In the field of Information Security, both India and China face common challenges in the form of hackers. Epidemics and pandemics are an irritant towards economies, as was evident in the case of the Bird Flu virus in Asia. Western countries are not exempted from these, an example being the mad cow disease scare in the UK.
It is important to note the importance of the threat of Sea Pirates to the countries of India and China. We need to develop communication, to ensure protection of vital ships coming in from Europe and the Middle East. This is especially important owing to the fact that our oil imports move in the Malacca straits which is notorious for its pirate infested waters. Steps have already been taken by a number of navies to protect the waters, including by India.
The upcoming visits of the Congress chief, Sonia Gandhi, and the Indian Prime Minister, Manmohan Singh, to China would do a world of good in boosting ties between the two countries. Particularly in the field of conflict resolution. This can be gauged from the fact that there would soon be joint army exercises between the two countries. It is believed that Indo-Chinese relations would not strain under the growing relationship of India with the United States over the nuclear deal issue, or the six party naval exercises held recently in the Bay of Bengal.
There should be a special working group constituted towards understanding and dealing with these issues on a multilateral as opposed to a bilateral level. To further discussions workshops may be organized.
A presentation given by China to the visiting Norwegian Prime Minister highlighted the importance of ecological protection, and this reflected the keen interest and proactive measures undertaken by China to deal with these non-traditional threats. It is therefore, an important area for India and China to collaborate.
Water is a serious problem in China, with a number of northern cities facing water shortages. India has expressed concerns over Chinese plans to transfer water from the South to the North, from the Brahmaputra River, and these would need to be addressed in an amicable manner under a special working group. On the question of dialogue on terrorism, it is felt that the working group should be upgraded.
India and China should sign a treaty on the nuclear program, along the same lines as the United States, for China does not have any opposition to the peaceful use of nuclear energy. Nuclear weapons are meant for deterrence and their chances of being used are miniscule. Cooperation between India and China would ensure that an arms race in South Asia does not take place.
Pakistan cannot be singled out as a source. Pakistan suffers from terrorism as well. There are many countries accused of being a source- Bangladesh and Afghanistan for example. Cooperation among nations is needed to deal with this menace.
China and India should cooperate with each other to prevent the mutual conversion of both traditional security problems and non-traditional security problems. The emphasis on non-traditional security does not mean the reduction of the significance of traditional security and vice-versa. On 14 March 2005, Premier Wen Jibao said "May we work jointly with great effort, may our study be vigorous and effective. May we not hate anyone. Let there be peace, let there be peace."