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19 Dec, 2014

Chinese commentary: Water more important for Asian security than tanks and warships

(People’s Daily Online), December 18, 2014 – When talking about Asian security, many analysts tend to start with the number of naval vessels and warplanes each country possesses. The recent water crisis in the Maldives has reminded us that the Asian security issue should be viewed comprehensively.

On Dec. 15, a desalination plant in Male caught fire, which resulted in a fresh water shortage for one third of the Maldivian people. China’s navy, air force and civil aviation reacted quickly, providing immediate supplies of fresh water to the local people and helping to repair the desalination plant. India and Sri Lanka also lent a helping hand. In Asia, which faces both traditional and non-traditional security threats, such common safety awareness and team spirit are very important.

The water crisis in Maldives may be an accident, but the following two pieces of news have furthered demonstrated the challenge faced by Asia in the field of non-traditional security issues. On Dec. 8, a UN report pointed out that the poppy plantation area in the Golden Triangle of Southeast Asia is three times bigger than in 2006. With a boom in opium production, there will be a severe problem of drug control. Meanwhile, Typhoon Hagupit has raged for days, causing great losses to the Philippines, and reminding us of Typhoon Haiyan last year that took away tens of thousands of lives.

Representing 67 percent of the world population and one third of the global economy, Asian peoples all long for peace and stability. The security risks caused by terrorism, transnational crime, environmental pollution, network security issues, energy resources security issues, major natural disasters and other problems should be evaluated seriously.

As Asia plays a more important role in global issues, other countries’ concerns about Asian security are heating up. Some skeptical people take the rapid development of China as the major variable that may change the overall situation. However, the trend of history can not be judged only from the viewpoints of interests and power. After several decades of development, China has realized a leap forward in national power. However, to better appreciate China’s influence on the peace and stability of Asia, one must understand how China makes use of its increasing power.

At the CICA Summit held this May, Chinese President Xi Jinping’s keynote speech emphasized that China would work with all sides to propose a common, comprehensive, cooperative and sustainable security outlook in Asia. China’s rapid reaction to the water crisis in the Maldives embodies the country’s attitude to Asian security issues.

Long-term peace and stability cannot rely on the old “balance of power” theory, but must be based on win-win cooperation among Asian countries and a sense of common destiny.

The article is edited and translated from《“水荒”引生的亚洲安全启示》, source: People’s Daily.