China’s ongoing push to change the international security order entered a new phase with the launch of the Global Security Initiative (GSI) in April 2022. The GSI promotes a set of distinct security concepts and principles — many of which reflect Beijing’s longstanding international normative preferences, such an emphasis on territorial sovereignty and noninterference. USIP is tracking how the GSI is being operationalized by China, with an initial focus on essay series examining China’s GSI activities in Southeast Asia and Central Asia.

A Chinese coast guard vessel confronting a Philippine Coast Guard vessel in the South China Sea on Nov. 10, 2023. China’s ongoing push to change the international security order entered a new phase with the launch of the Global Security Initiative in April 2022. (Jes Aznar/The New York Times)
A Chinese vessel confronting a Philippine vessel in the South China Sea on Nov. 10, 2023. China’s ongoing push to change the international security order entered a new phase with the launch of the GSI in April 2022. (Jes Aznar/The New York Times)

On the global stage, China seeks to position the GSI as a framework for world peace in contrast with the current U.S.-led security order. In addition to boosting the GSI and other initiatives through the United Nations and branding China’s role in international diplomacy as GSI activities, China has begun associating bilateral and regional security activities like counterterrorism partnerships, policing assistance, and cybersecurity cooperation with the GSI as well. While these efforts offer some insights into this still nascent initiative, many aspects of the GSI remain unclear. What are China’s areas and issues of focus? What is new and what is a repackaging of existing projects and relationships? Several USIP essays series will examine these questions and more.

Central Asia

Coming soon. USIP will publish a series of essays on the impact of GSI in Central Asia, highlighting voices from the region.

Southeast Asia

Security guards walking past Chinese flags decorating a street in Beijing. October 1, 2019. (Gilles Sabrie/The New York Times)

China's Vision for Global Security: Implications for Southeast Asia

Researcher Thy Try explains that as China tries to establish itself a counterbalance to the U.S.-led security order, Southeast Asian nations should remain skeptical of China’s expanding political influence due to unresolved territorial disputes and questions over cybersecurity.

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Visitors at Ala Too Square in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan, Sept. 26, 2022. With Russia distracted in Ukraine, Central Asian leaders are looking for a reliable partner to help ensure domestic stability. (Sergey Ponomarev/The New York Times

China Looks to Fill a Void in Central Asia

USIP’s Carla Freeman, Alley McFarland and Gavin Helf look at what’s driving China’s growing engagement in Central Asia, what these countries are looking to get out of their relationships with Beijing and how the United States can compete with China in the region.

President Xi Jinping of China participates in a bilateral dinner meeting with President Donald Trump during the G-20 Summit in Buenos Aires, Argentina, Dec. 1, 2018. (Tom Brenner/The New York Times)

Xi Ramps Up Campaign for a Post-Pax Americana Security Order

While the GSI has gained traction with some states, the recent trips to Washington by the South Korean and Philippine presidents show that even in China’s neighborhood, many countries still see Washington as the world’s leading strategic security partner. As Beijing continues its GSI campaign, Washington should consider the implications for U.S. policy and how it can respond effectively.

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