Report: Conference of World Leading Think Tanks on Peace and Security Studies in Beijing and Nanjing

From September 13 to 21, 2018 a conference with Chinese, European, Asian, Latin American and African leading think tanks on peace and security took place in Beijing and Nanjing. The host was the Chinese People’s Association for Peace and Disarmament (CPAPD). The CPAPD is an NGO which has links to the Communist Party of China. The conference was held on the occasion of the International Day of Peace established by the United Nations . Prominent speakers from China were the Vice President of China Wang Qishan and the Vice Minister of the International Department of the Central Committee of the Communist Party Wang Yajun. Heinz Gärtnertook part as a representative of the International Institute for Peace (IIP). Below we publish his report and his statement. He spoke about the Tripartite Dialogue among China, Europe and Africa.

China on global developments

Multilateralism and Multipolarity

As expressed by the Chinese delegates, China and the European Union (EU) have overlapping views on some points and different on others. China supports multilateralism, cooperation and solidarity. It does not see a contradiction with the concept of multipolarity as the EU Global Strategy (EGS) does. China’s experts refer to the climate agreement and the Iranian nuclear Agreement (JCPOA). The EU sees multilateralism rather in the context of common and not polarized interests. China stresses that the sanctions imposed by the Trump Administration are unilateral sanctions and not those of the Security Council of the United Nations (UNSC). It considers the new tariffs as additional sanctions and opposes the sanctions against the International Criminal Court (ICC) announced by US-Security Adviser John Bolton and Trump’s criticism of the World Trade Organization as pure unilateralism.

Belt and Road

The implementation of the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) is seen as an integrative factor between West and East, North and South. Even though the interests and ideas of China, Europe and Africa need not be identical, there could be many ways for cooperation. The interconnectivity should bring a boost to China’s infrastructure. This includes not only investments in roads and railways but also innovation, technology, research and development. It should also attract sport and cultural events. All this should happen according to market criteria. The assumption is that it would simultaneously strengthen the Chinese government, its Communist Party and its leader XiJinping. According to the estimation of Chinese scholars by the middle of the century China will have become a middle-income country.


China stresses that it will abide by the multilateral Vienna nuclear agreement of 2015 (JCPOA). It is more worried about the EU that it will not be able to resist the US pressure to abandon the agreement. Chinese officials concede, however, that it will be difficult to uphold the level of oil imports from Iran because all purchases have to be invoiced in US-Dollars.

North Korea

China is cautiously optimistic about the development of North Korea (DPRK) – US relations.Although there seems to be no agreement on how and when the Korean Peninsula will be denuclearized, relations between the two countries have improved. The large scale military exercises have been suspended and the DPRK has abandoned nuclear and missile tests. The leaders of North and South Korea also agreed to boost economic cooperation and take steps to reduce tensions. China also proudly points out that the chairman of the DPRK Kim Jong-Un visited China three times after his summit with Donald Trump.

Nuclear Weapons

China’s officials dodge questions on the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons. They stress China’s commitment not to use nuclear weapons first (“No First Use” policy) and not to use nuclear weapons or threaten to use them against non-nuclear weapon states (negative security assurances). In contrast to other nuclear weapon states, China has signed and ratified the protocols on the Nuclear Weapon Free Zones in which negative security assurances are enshrined.[1]


At the Memorial Celebrations a former Prime Minister of Japan and other Japanese apologized for the Nanjing Massacre by the Japanese Army in 1937 with 300.000 Chinese victims. This is quite unique since no official Japanese politician has done it so far. However, even on this occasion, only the army has been criticized and not the Emperor. 

(Rapporteur: Heinz Gärtner)

[1]The exception is the NWFZ South-East Asia which none of the nuclear weapon states have ratified.

Statement by Heinz Gärtner: 

The view of the EU Global Strategy towards China and Africa

The European Union (EU) issued its new Global Strategy (EGS) in 2016 which addresses the issues that go beyond the borders of the EU and its immediate neighborhood. Globalis not only understood in geographic terms but also in the sense of being comprehensive. It includes “hard” and “soft” power. Key principles are human security, engagement, partnership and cooperation, and resilience. It is based on rules and international law. The EGS identifies five key threats: terrorism, proliferation of Weapons of Mass Destructions (WMD), regional conflicts, state failure, and organized crime. When the EGS was published the security environment was characterized by border violation in the East, violence in North Africa and the Middle East and the subsequent migration crisis.

Human security

The EU intends to promote peace and security not only of its territory but also of its citizens; this is why the strategy is centered around the concept of human security,which focuses rather on the security of individuals than of states. Security at home depends on peace beyond EU borders. Internal and external security will be more intertwined than ever.


The principle of engagementis applied to states which do not belong to the Eastern Neighborhood countries, such as China and Iran. The EU will engage with China not necessarily based on common values but rather on respect for the rule of law, both domestically and internationally. The engagement goes beyond a “strategic partnership” which only is supposed to explore potential further cooperation. It should rather be based on already existing achievements like the Vienna agreement on Iran’s nuclear program (JCPOA).

EU-China relations should be maximized by using the EU-China Connectivity Platform, ASEM (Asia-Europe Meeting) and EU-ASEAN frameworks. Trade and investment should be deepened along with technological cooperation and the dialogue on economic reforms, human rights and climate change.

On the OSCE (Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe) level the contacts with the multilateral Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) could be developed on these issues. Specifically, China could be invited to several fora of the OSCE.


The EU’s partners are those states with whom it develops common crisis management and peace operations within various international arrangements and organizations. They include states in Africa, Latin America and Asia. Partnerships should be done on the basis of “functional multilateral cooperation”. They would cover issues such as border security, trafficking, energy and climate, infrastructure and disaster management. The EU also would support cooperation across African sub-regions (North, West, Sahel, Lake Chad) and closer links with the African Union (EU), the Economic Community of Western African States (ECOWS) and the G5 Sahel.


To achieve resiliencethe EU will assist with food production and security which eventually should result in “food sovereignty”. At the micro level, the EU could provide assistance with the reform of social safety networks and targeted food subsidies. Most MENA (Middle East and North Africa) countries, for example, import up to 50 percent of the calories they consume, which makes these countries highly vulnerable to the volatilities of the global food market.

The next EU-Africa Summitwhich will take place in Vienna in December 2018 will focus on investments, trade and food production. The background is to reduce the migration flow from Africa. Unfortunately, no financial pledges are made yet. One possibility, for example, would be a new ‘Marshall Plan for Africa’. The EU is considering a free trade agreement with the African Union.


The EGS is not based on a realist perspective. It stresses cooperation, multilateralism rather than power politics. It rejects the notion of zero-sum games and favors rather a win-win approach and multilateralism. It avoids concepts like multipolarity which implies polarization and great power competition, or hegemony which means domination.

The EGS is a value and rule based document but it also followsprincipled pragmatismwith partners which respects other value systems to allow for cooperation and engagement. Principled pragmatism should start with bottom-up initiatives that meet local needs. This requires that civil society and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) should increasingly be involved in the decision making process.

While there are differences between the EU and China on the idea of multipolarity what they have in common though is that both reject playing zero-sum games and prefer to focus on win-win situations instead. Interconnectedness and interdependence could link China to Europe and Africa. One example could be particular projects within the framework of the Belt and Road Initiative(BRI). The BRI has a dual character; it contains both power competition and interdependence.

All this should happen not only on the state level but also on the level of civil society, NGOs and in particular exchanges and contacts among academics and scientists.


European Union Institute for Security Studies (EUISS), After the EU Global Strategy: Building Resilience, Florence Gaub and Nicu Poescu (eds.), Paris, 2017.

Finnish Institute of Intrnational Affairs (FIIA), The Security Strategies of the US, China, Russia and the EU: Living in Different Worlds, Kristi Raik, Mika Aaltola, Jyrki Kallio and Katri Pynnöniemi (eds.), Helsinki, 2018.

Shared Vision, Common Action: A Stronger Europe, A Global Strategy for the European Union’s Foreign and Security Policy, June 2016.