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West’s failures in global peace and security are costly and irreversible

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By Fani Zvomuya


Over a week ago, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy made a shocking accusation against China, railing against the Asian for allegedly helping Russia to disrupt the so-called peace conference on the war in Ukraine, which Zelenskyy is organising in Switzerland.

Zelenskyy claimed China was pressuring other countries and their leaders not to attend the upcoming talks this June, although he did not name them.

In a shocking outburst, the Ukrainian leader, a former comedian, made a desperate attempt to smear China for its refusal to side with Ukraine not just in its war with Russia. Zelenskyy also appeared to fashion himself as a powerful leader commandeering this globally fragile moment, and was stung by China’s refusal.

Speaking at a news conference during the Shangri-la defence forum, Zelenskyy said: “Russia, using Chinese influence in the region, using Chinese diplomats also, does everything to disrupt the peace summit. “Regrettably this is unfortunate that such a big independent powerful country as China is an instrument in the hands of (Russian leader Vladimir) Putin.”

China has stated that it is not attending the summit because it excludes Russia.

It is not lost to analysts that Zelenskyy is not his own man either in the context of the war with Russia, or in calling for the summit in Switzerland.

His masters are in the West, and are led by none other than the US.

The episode above was therefore a pantomime, which tells us a lot about the failures of the West in handling global peace and security.

Apart from Ukraine, other Western failures are being witnessed in the Middle East, where Israel’s war in Gaza, has drawn worldwide condemnation. The US and NATO countries have been supporting Israel.

In the American neighbourhood, the deteriorating situation in Haiti and in Mexico all have fingerprints of the US and its pronounced failures.

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Ukraine under the control of America and the West, wants China  to clean the mess that they have made in Ukraine and are shameless to drag and force the hand of China.

China’s refusal is well grounded.

Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Mao Ning said: “There is still a clear gap between the arrangements for the meeting and the demands of the Chinese side, as well as the general expectations of the international community.”

Her explanation is important in two ways: First, China has firmly rejected pressures to pick a side in the Ukraine conflict, because of the narrow, selfish interests that the West is pursuing. Secondly, China itself has proposed  a blueprint – the Global Security Initiative – which provides clear and appropriate answers to global peace and security challenges, and is anchored on pursuit of comprehensive and sustainable solutions through multilateralism and international consensus.

Before we can discuss China’s proposals under GSI and what it means for global peace and security, it is critical to examine some of the glaring failures of the Western led approach, which are now leading to inexorable collapse – which China has no responsibility to cover up or rescue.

Experts believe Western-led approaches hve failed on several grounds that include, lack of cultural understanding and imposition of Western values and solutions without considering local contexts and cultures, often ignoring local agency. The West has been overrelying on military interventionand believing that “might is right” without addressing root causes and investing in sustainable development. This has meant prioritizing “quick fixes” over long-term solutions,and these quick fixes have not won the day in increasingly many cases, leading to elongated and complicated conflicts such as in Iraq and Afghanistan.

At the same time, Western countries have neither taken account of the mess they created nor taken time to reflect on their failures. Instead, they have gone to create more mess elsewhere.

The biggest albatross of the current dynamics has been iequitable power dynamics centred on the US, which itself has become weaker and weaker, especially against a backdrop of a series of failures. America’s failures are partly attributable to lack of lack of leadership and statesmen, with the current President, Joe Biden, probably ranking among the worst and weakest leaders the US has seen in years. His handling of the Israel war of aggression and the Ukraine crisis, demonstrate this leadership vacuity as the President is hostage to parochial interests regarding Israel and a ravenous war machine in the military-industrial complex.

Inside GSI

China’s proposals under the Global Security Initiative represent the antithesis of the current order and system. In 2022, Chinese leader Xi Jinping introduced the GSI which stressed commitment to the vision of common, comprehensive, cooperative and sustainable security and rejected a Cold War mentality, group politics and bloc confrontation. There are six anchors of this philosophy namely building sustainable security, upholding sovereignty, territorial integrity and non-interference in internal affairs, as well as a respect for the policy choices of every nation based on its unique socio-political system. President Xi also made a case of “indivisible security”, which emphasises comprehensive and cooperative approach to global security. The GSI aims to eliminate the root causes of international conflicts, improve global security governance, encourage joint international efforts to bring more stability and certainty to a volatile and changing era, and promote durable peace and development in the world.

The GSI uses the United Nations Charter as a key reference point, arguing that “the purposes and principles of the UN Charter embody the deep reflection by people around the world on the bitter lessons of the two world wars”. China calls on all countries to practice true multilateralism; firmly uphold the international system with the UN at its core, the international order underpinned by international law and the basic norms of international relations underpinned by the UN Charter; and uphold the authority of the UN and its status as the main platform for global security governance. “The Cold War mentality, unilateralism, bloc confrontation and hegemonism contradict the spirit of the UN Charter and must be resisted and rejected,” the GSI states.

China urges the world to take “the legitimate security concerns of all countries seriously”, something that China emphasised repeatedly at the start of the Ukraine war. It has done the same on Israeli-Palestinial conflict, advocating for a two state solution, which position is being advocated by the majority of the world. GSI states that security of one country should not come at the expense of that of others.

“We believe all countries are equal in terms of security interests,” argues China. “The legitimate and reasonable security concerns of all countries should be taken seriously and addressed properly, not persistently ignored or systemically challenged.”

It further argues that any country, while pursuing its own security, should take into account the reasonable security concerns of others and that there should be a balanced, effective and sustainable security architecture, so as to realize universal security and common security.

China encourages peaceful resolution of differences and disputes between countries through dialogue and consultation and states that war and sanctions are no fundamental solution to disputes; calling on countries to strengthen strategic communication, enhance mutual security confidence, diffuse tensions, manage differences and eliminate the root causes of crises.

According to China’s proposals, “major countries” a reference to American and European powers, must uphold justice, fulfill their due responsibilities, support consultation on an equal footing, and facilitate talks for peace, play good offices and mediate in light of the needs and will of the countries concerned. China has expressed reservation about the abuse of unilateral sanctions and long-arm jurisdiction arguing that this does “not solve a problem, but only creates more difficulties and complications”.

From this perspective, the mistakes of the West become so glaring. In fact, the West is doing everything wrong and hastening the collapse of the Western order and emergence of a new one.

It is then no surprise that China, or anyone outside the West, is too keen to be mired in the complications and mistakes of the fading west.

In Africa, we say a foolish fly follows a dying man to the grave. The Western system is dying because of the follies and foibles of its leaders and common sense dictates that it should crash and burn to allow the emergence of new way of doing things. A new world order will benefit everyone on the globe, including Africa and Zimbabwe, as we all have all watched and paid the price of conflicts, including the Ukraine crisis which has affected commodities such as grain and fuel.

In this context, Ukraine President Zelenskyy’s attempt to drag down China is as laughable as it should be dismissed with the contempt it deserves.

Fani Zvomuya is an associate researcher with Ruzivo Media & Resource Centre, a local think tank that specialises in analysing global and local issues.