Chinese Defense Minister Li Shangfu expressed concern about the resurgence of a Cold War mentality in the Asia-Pacific region, seeking dialogue instead of confrontation.
Speaking at the Asia’s top security summit in Singapore on Saturday, the Shangri-La Dialogue, Li indirectly criticised the United States for fueling an arms race and interfering in other countries’ internal affairs. He underlined the need for mutual respect and denounced bullying and hegemony.
US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin, in his speech at a security meeting, criticised China for refusing to engage in military talks, leading to a deadlock between the two superpowers on issues like Taiwan and territorial disputes in the South China Sea.
The strained relationship between the US and China encompasses various matters, including Taiwan, the South China Sea, and President Joe Biden’s restrictions on semiconductor chip exports.
Despite attending a dinner together, Li and Austin did not engage in further discussions, despite the US repeatedly requesting more military exchanges. Chinese military officers privately conveyed that China seeks a less confrontational approach from the US in Asia and the lifting of sanctions against Li before considering resuming military-to-military talks.
During the security summit, Li warned against the formation of “NATO-like” military alliances in the Asia-Pacific, stressing that it would lead to a spiral of conflicts. He also underscored the need for open and inclusive cooperation in the region, highlighting the devastating impact of the two world wars and the importance of avoiding a repeat of such tragedies.
“In essence, attempts to push for NATO-like (alliances) in the Asia-Pacific is a way of kidnapping regional countries and exaggerating conflicts and confrontations, which will only plunge the Asia-Pacific into a whirlpool of disputes and conflicts,” the China’s minister noted.
“Today´s Asia-Pacific needs open and inclusive cooperation, not buddying up into small cliques. We must not forget the severe disasters brought by the two world wars to peoples of all countries, and we must not allow such tragic history to repeat itself.”
Though not explicitly naming any country, Li seemed to refer to the US, which has been strengthening alliances and partnerships in the region, such as AUKUS and the QUAD group.
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