This year's Shangri-La Dialogue saw constructive exchanges among participants
as they welcomed China's readiness to discuss security matters with Asia-Pacific
countries, analysts said yesterday.
Lieutenant General Zhang Qinsheng
(C), deputy chief of staff of the People's Liberation Army (PLA) of China,
attends the Keynote Address and Opening Dinner of the Shangri-La Dialogue
security conference in Singapore June 1, 2007. [Reuters]
The dialogue is an inter-governmental debate among Asia-Pacific states and
major outside powers on key security issues facing the region.
The security forum held in Singapore over the weekend was constructive partly
because someone as senior as the Deputy Chief of General Staff,
Lieutenant-General Zhang Qinsheng, represented China for the first time, said
Liu Jiangyong, a researcher with the Institute of International Studies, under
General Zhang assured the gathering of the region's defence ministers that
China's strategic intent was purely "defensive", spelling out Beijing's peaceful
development strategy and defense policy.
the increasingly confident and assertive stance befiting its status as an
economic powerhouse, China's openness and transparency China was applauded by
the other participants, Liu said.
Most Asian countries do not see China's military build-up or increased
defense spending as a threat to regional security. Instead, they see it as the
specific response to the cross-Taiwan Straits situation, as expressed by
Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loo, Liu said.
While China displayed openness in its defense policy, the US downplayed
concerns over Beijing's military power.
US Secretary of Defense Robert Gates said at the forum that increased
dialogue between the two countries, particularly establishing a hotline, would
help them prevent misunderstandings and miscalculations.
His remark was in contrast to that of his predecessor, Donald Rumsfeld, who
used the forum to question China's motives in increasing its military spending,
and urging it to show greater transparency.
Pentagon's conciliatory tone indicated the possibility of better
communication between the two countries in defense matters, Liu said.
Gates offered China briefings on the US missile defense system, too, to
reassure it that it does not threaten Beijing's nuclear deterrent.
His remarks came a day after General Zhang criticized the defense shields
being developed by the US and Japan as a protection against possible missile
attacks by the DPRK.
"We would be pleased to sit down with (China) and talk about the capabilities
and technical characteristics of this system and its limitation," Gates said.
This constructive approach of the two key players in Asia Pacific "will add
to the confidence in the region," Liu said.