Non-Traditional Security Threats and International Counter-Terrorism Cooperation
– Remarks by H.E. Luo Zhaohui, Vice Foreign Minister of China, at the International Seminar on Joint Response to Terrorism under the New Circumstances
22 December 2020
Ladies and Gentlemen,
It is a great pleasure to attend this seminar hosted by the China Institute of International Studies (CIIS). On behalf of the Foreign Ministry of China, I wish to express congratulations on the opening of the seminar and appreciation for all the preparations made by the CIIS.
Next year will mark the 30th anniversary of the end of the Cold War and the 20th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks. As we review the non-traditional security threats the international community faced in the past three decades, we may come to a few conclusions.
First, since the end of the Cold War, especially after 9/11, non-traditional security threats have grown in number and frequency, and increasingly become a major threat to humanity. The 9/11 terror attacks, the SARS outbreak, the Indian Ocean tsunami, the global financial crisis and the ongoing pandemic have proved this point time and again.
Second, non-traditional security threats require transnational responses. In a global village, we live in a community with a shared future and no one is immune to common threats. Therefore, working in solidarity like passengers in the same boat is the only right way to address non-traditional security threats. This was how we dealt with the SARS outbreak, the Indian Ocean tsunami and the global financial crisis. 9/11 brought the international community together on counter-terrorism. Our experience so far with COVID-19 also underlines the need for a collective response.
Third, response to non-traditional security issues should be based on a coherent and sustainable approach; we need a long-term view instead of knee-jerk reaction. While crisis management is necessary, sustained efforts are imperative. Otherwise, previous threats may reemerge, and all hard-won gains may be lost. The SARS outbreak in 2003, the Ebola outbreak in 2014 and COVID-19 this year all show that global public health security demands our sustained attention.
Fourth, reflection on international counter-terrorism cooperation is needed. The global fight against terrorism has made important progress. However, terrorist activities remain rampant, the breeding ground is yet to be eradicated, international common understanding needs strengthening, and a sustainable strategy is yet to take form. Opting for unilateralist and bullying practices, a certain country has politicized counter-terrorism and turned it into a convenient tool. This has caused serious disruption to international counter-terrorism cooperation, and we all need to be on high alert.
As Georg W. F. Hegel noted, the only thing we learn from history is that we learn nothing from history.
Frequent terrorist attacks around the world remind us that terrorism has never gone away. International counter-terrorism cooperation still has a long way to go, and must be strengthened, not weakened. In fighting terrorism, we must uphold multilateralism, adopt a comprehensive approach, follow a unified standard, and embrace openness and inclusiveness.
China is an important member of the international fight against terrorism and an active participant in and contributor to counter-terrorism cooperation. We have engaged in productive exchanges with other countries on counter-terrorism and deradicalization policies, and contributed useful experience to the international effort. A few years ago, China’s Xinjiang region suffered greatly from terrorism and radical ideologies. Violent terrorists plotted and executed several thousand attacks, leading to the loss of many innocent lives and injuries. To protect the lives of people of all ethnic groups in Xinjiang, the region has cracked down on violent terrorism according to law, and at the same time, endeavored to remove the root causes of terrorism. Local governments have worked hard to raise people’s living standards, enhance legal literacy, and provide education and general awareness-raising against extremism and terrorism. These efforts have made a difference. Over the past four years, Xinjiang has been free from terrorist attacks; people there enjoy a tranquil and harmonious social environment. It is a concrete proof that the counter-terrorism and deradicalization measures taken in Xinjiang are effective. They offer useful experience to global deradicalizaiton efforts and represent China’s contribution to the international counter-terrorism endeavor.
The Eastern Turkistan Islamic Movement (ETIM) is a terrorist group listed by the UN Security Council. Combating ETIM is a core concern in China’s counter-terrorism efforts and an integral part of the global counter-terrorism endeavor. Regrettably, a certain country, in a blatant act of double standards, has revoked the designation of ETIM as a terrorist organization, which will only whitewash and embolden ETIM, breach international consensus and undermine counter-terrorism cooperation. We trust and expect that the international community will be clear-eyed about the violent, terrorist nature of ETIM and its grave danger, oppose the delisting of the group, and continue to work together to curtail the terrorist group until this security tumor is uprooted.
Here, I wish to share China’s propositions on counter-terrorism.
First, it is important to uphold international consensus. The international consensus on counter-terrorism is a valuable lesson we draw from numerous tragedies humanity has gone through. We need to keep our faith in unity and cooperation as the most powerful weapon against terrorism, rise above exclusive-block or zero-sum mentality, stand on the side of international justice, make decisions based on the merits of matters, and resolutely reject unilateral, selfish and bullying acts that only jeopardize and erode international consensus on terrorism. Only when our consensus is kept intact can we ensure that the counter-terrorism endeavor stay in the right direction.
Second, it is important to adopt effective measures. In view of the new trends and new features of terrorist activities, we need to support the UN in playing a central coordinating role, support more coordination of positions and actions, and support creative and multi-pronged solutions to tackle cyber-terrorism, foreign terrorist fighters, radicalization, terrorist financing and other outstanding issues. More attention should be paid to the impact of COVID-19 so that terrorist organizations will not be able to use the pandemic to instigate and execute attacks.
Third, it is important to follow a unified standard. There is no “good” or “bad” terrorism, but just terrorism. History has proven time and again that abetting terrorism will ultimately backfire. We must adopt a zero-tolerance, indiscriminate approach and resolutely crack down upon terrorists wherever they are and on whatever ground. We should reject ideological biases or double standards, and avoid linking terrorism with any particular country, ethnicity or religion.
Fourth, it is important to deny terrorism its breeding ground. Development holds the master key to all problems. We need to address both the symptoms and root causes of terrorism, facilitate economic and social development in developing countries, and effectively alleviate and eradicate poverty. Developing countries, particularly those at the forefront of combating terrorism, should receive strong support, in the form of material assistance, personnel training and others, to help them build capacity in counter-terrorism and deradicalization and reinforce every link in the battle against terrorism. Expert and academic exchanges should be encouraged to provide intellectual input to international counter-terrorism efforts.
Last but not least, I suggest that this seminar be held on a regular basis to build consensus and keep up the momentum of counter-terrorism. Next time, we may consider issuing a press release and inviting more countries. Finally, I wish the seminar a full success. Thank you.