Global EditionASIA 中文双语Français
Home / China / Military

Multiple issues addressed in security meet

By Jiang Chenglong | China Daily | Updated: 2024-06-06 23:28
Share - WeChat
Defense Minister Dong Jun delivers a keynote speech on China's global security vision at the 21st Shangri-La Dialogue in Singapore on Sunday. YONHAP NEWS AGENCY

The Chinese military's participation in the Shangri-La Dialogue by sending delegations led by the Defense Minister over the years has helped the world gain a more comprehensive understanding of its positions on global issues, while also facilitating communication and understanding between the Chinese and United States militaries, experts said.

The 21st Shangri-La Dialogue was organized in Singapore last week by the British think tank the International Institute for Strategic Studies. It's one of the biggest and highest-level multilateral conferences on security in the Asia-Pacific region.

The Chinese military has participated in the security summit every year since 2007. This year, the Chinese delegation, led by Defense Minister Admiral Dong Jun, comprised 34 members, including 29 from the People's Liberation Army, according to the event guide provided by the organizer.

Zhou Bo, a senior fellow at Tsinghua University's Center for International Security and Strategy and a member of the delegation, said, "At present, the Chinese military has attracted much attention, but there are still some misunderstandings about it in the West. Therefore, the Shangri-La Dialogue serves as a major platform for the Chinese military to articulate its positions and showcase a positive image."

In his first appearance at the dialogue after assuming office, Defense Minister Dong Jun delivered a keynote speech on China's approach to global security, stressing that China will not allow any country or force to trigger war or chaos in the Asia-Pacific region.

Additionally, during the Q&A session, Dong elaborated on China's positions on the Taiwan question and South China Sea issues.

"Dong's speech was quite comprehensive," said Zhou, who has attended 10 Shangri-La Dialogues in all, at seven of which he was a PLA delegation member.

Zhou noted that, given the current situation, the Taiwan question and South China Sea issues are both pressing and realistic topics, making it understandable that Dong focused on these issues during the Q&A session.

In 2011, China sent its defense chief to the dialogue for the first time, with then-defense minister Liang Guanglie delivering a keynote speech on the nation's international security cooperation. Since 2019, the Chinese defense minister has attended each Shangri-La Dialogue.

Military commentator Zhao Xiaozhuo who has also attended 10 Shangri-La Dialogues as a member of the Chinese military delegation, said that although the dialogue is a West-dominated forum, China's participation is crucial because it focuses on Asia-Pacific security issues.

"It is very important for the Chinese defense minister to use this opportunity every year to clarify China's positions and concepts to the international community and to highlight China's contributions to regional peace and stability," he said.

Last week, Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos Jr spoke about the Philippines' territorial claims in the South China Sea in his keynote address, while US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin gave a keynote speech emphasizing the US' leadership in the "Indo-Pacific" region.

Some foreign media outlets had suggested that the South China Sea tensions and other issues were going to be in focus at this year's dialogue, with the Philippines and the US likely to exert pressure on China.

However, at a news conference held during the dialogue, China's Defense Ministry spokesperson Wu Qian said he didn't feel any pressure, because "we have the moral high ground" on those issues.

Notably, after the speeches by the Philippine and US leaders, two members of the Chinese delegation, Major General Xu Hui and Senior Colonel Cao Yanzhong, posed questions, challenging the Philippines actions' negative effect on ASEAN centrality and the US' attempts to introduce NATO into the Asia-Pacific region.

Military commentator Zhao said that, given the Western dominance of the dialogue, there were some baseless accusations against China. "The PLA's participation and voice serve as a balance to those voices, allowing the international community to make its own judgments.

"Meanwhile, the Chinese delegation includes many senior officials and scholars. Their interactions with foreign military representatives help present an open and confident image of the PLA," he said.

During this year's dialogue, Dong held talks with senior security and defense officials from more than 10 countries and organizations, including the US, Japan, Australia, Singapore, Cambodia and the European Union. His meeting with Austin marked the first face-to-face meeting between Chinese and US defense chiefs in 18 months.

In the talks, Dong told his US counterpart that the two militaries must adhere to the bottom line of no conflict and no confrontation.

Zhao noted that it's crucial for China and the US to maintain communication, especially because "the two countries have very different perspectives on issues".

"Therefore, both countries need to communicate to continuously reaffirm each other's bottom lines and consensus, such as crisis management," he said.

Zhou said the Shangri-La Dialogue is a good opportunity for the Chinese and US militaries to strengthen communication and understanding. In recent years, the defense ministers of both countries have attended the annual dialogue which is held mid-year.

"If the two sides reach some consensus during the bilateral meetings in mid-year, there are about six months left to implement these consensuses before reviewing and looking ahead at the year's end," he said.

Copyright 1995 - . All rights reserved. The content (including but not limited to text, photo, multimedia information, etc) published in this site belongs to China Daily Information Co (CDIC). Without written authorization from CDIC, such content shall not be republished or used in any form. Note: Browsers with 1024*768 or higher resolution are suggested for this site.
License for publishing multimedia online 0108263

Registration Number: 130349