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Special> Boao Forum for Asia 2015> Exclusive
UPDATED: April 2, 2015 Web Exclusive
Security Matters

In his opening remarks for the Boao Forum for Asia Annual Conference 2015, President Xi Jinping said, "To build a community of common destiny, we need to pursue common, comprehensive, cooperative and sustainable security."

Academics and politicians shared their understanding of this security concept and raised suggestions on how this vision might be realized in the Asia-Pacific region during a panel discussion during the forum. Edited excerpts of the panelists follow:

Tan Sri Rastam Mohd Isa, Chairman of the Institute of Strategic and International Studies of Malaysia:

ASEAN is now preparing itself to strengthen the ASEAN community by the end of this year. Hopefully all things are in place. ASEAN considers itself a very important component of the Asia-Pacific security architecture.

We are talking about not only traditional security issues but also the non-traditional security issues which require essentially cooperation among various parties.

I don't think at this present moment South Asia should be looking at neutrality and keeping distance from the major powers. We need engagement because the world is different. There needs to be dialogue, consultation and cooperation. Coming to the question of common comprehensive cooperative and sustainable security, this is something we should be looking at not only in the context of Asia but in the global context.

Obviously there could and should be a role for China as China is also a permanent member of the UN Security Council.

Hugh White, a professor of Australian National University

The question of how major power relations in Asia evolve is essential.

We are moving into a very new era, given the relationship between the major powers. The distribution of wealth and power between them has shifted so far. In the 1970s, China's economy was one 20th the size of America's. Todayit's the world's second largest economy.

Therefore, how the U.S. and China's roles can be reconciled and accommodated is a very important question and quite urgent.

A stable major power relationship will provide the foundation for building the community of common destiny.

Paul Evans, a professor of University of British Columbia:

First, in the region where economic interdependence is extraordinary, the spillover effects for security can sometimes be very good. Economics is a good foundation, but at the same time, a security situation is going to limit economic opportunities now and in future.

Second, comprehensive, common, cooperative and sustainable security are all important ideas, but they are not yet clearly defined. They haven't received a cent at the regional level. They have not yet overcome some suspicions of others in the region. Some say Chinese initiatives are ideas of a new future while deeds move in a different direction. There's also not been a regional agreement or even a regional discussion on what the deeper principles might look like. The Chinese initiatives are to be applauded and I think they can be built upon. But it's truly very difficult at this point to build a regional discussion around them. It takes some imagination.

(Reporting from Boao, Hainan)

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