China and the US offer competing security visions for the Asia-Pacific

  • China’s new defence minister used his first public address to an international audience to lash out at the US and the “rules-based international order” it champions, as well as call for common ground to avoid the “unbearable pain” a conflict between them would bring.
  • At the Shangri-La Dialogue in Singapore on 4 Jun, General Li Shangfu accused “some countries” of intervening in another’s internal affairs and pursuing its security at the expense of others.
  • The speech came on the last day of the conference where military officials from around the world held more than a hundred formal closed-door meetings.
  • But as expected, there was not one between Li and his US counterpart, Lloyd Austin. Li had turned down an offer for talks because of secondary US sanctions over arms purchases from Russia.
  • In the main conference room, Li laid out Chinese President Xi Jinping’s signature Global Security Initiative, a foreign policy strategy based on economic development.
  • Like Austin a day earlier, the Chinese defence minister tackled some of the big points of friction between the two countries: Taiwan and the South China Sea.
  • However, there was little overlap in the two visions presented.
  • Li said “Taiwan is China’s Taiwan” and “a matter for the Chinese to decide”, while Austin said the United States would oppose unilateral changes to the status quo from either side.
  • Without naming the US, Li also accused “some country” of exceptionalism and double standards.

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