China's message on Shangri-La Dialogue: Peace and stability
Dialogue with Yang Rui
This year's IISS Shangri-La Dialogue, Asia's premier defense summit, was held in Singapore from May 31 to June 2.
After the absence of high-level Chinese officials for eight years, the attendance of China's Defense Minister General Wei Fenghe attracted the attention of the public and provided a unique opportunity for all attendees to engage with the leading figure of China's People's Liberation Army (PLA).
Separately, the meeting between General Wei Fenghe and the United States Acting Secretary of Defense Patrick Shanahan on the sidelines of the Shangri-La Dialogue was highly anticipated. Many believe that this side meeting could diminish the U.S.-China bilateral tensions in the region.
“This time with Defense Minister Wei Fenghe's visit to Singapore, he met with Singaporean leaders and he also visited one of Singapore's submarines.
Colonel Liu Lin, Associate Research Fellow at the War Study College at PLA Academy of Military Science, commented on China's high-level visit to Singapore this year.
“This arrangement shows that the military mutual-trust between China and Singapore has been enhanced and both sides have the sincerity to further enhance the military relationship.”
She pointed out that both sides have great potential to strengthen the bilateral military ties in the forms of expanding the scale of joint exercises and enhance the exchange of military think tanks.
“Over the past few years, China has been attaching great importance to the Shangri-La summit. We had quite high-ranking officials attending the summit,” commented Rong Ying, VP and Senior Research Fellow at China Institute of International Studies.
“As we discussed, Defense Minister Wei Fenghe is paid a visit on the invitation from Singapore. China sent out a strong message that the Chinese military is confident and ready to talk with their colleagues and share their views to play a role that helps maintain peace and stability of the region.”
Rong also made a remark on Minister Wei's speech, pointing out that it is a good opportunity for General Wei to explain in details about China's security, policy and views on how to promote regional cooperation and stability.
He reiterated that China will continue to play a constructive role for the peaceful development and that China is always a force for peace and stability.
Richard Weitz, a policy expert at Wikistart Global Consultancy, shared his view on the U.S.'s Indo-Pacific strategy and how the U.S. would engage with China at the Shangri-La Dialogue.
“There is not much new comparing to what the Obama administration was doing over the last few years. President Xi since he came to office has shown much interest in the military-to-military dialogue.”
“In the last few years, China has made a much consistent and compressive effort to promote this kind of military engagement. It is going to be very interesting to see if the U.S. and China could resolve any of the numerous disagreements when they go through them.”
Rong also shared his view on U.S.'s new Indo-Pacific strategy.
“The region has been undergoing dramatic changes. The U.S. has been a major player, however other countries also have their views and their initiatives on how to promote the cooperative and security mechanism, which are equally important. “
He stressed that the U.S. should adapt itself as it will not be able to continue as the sole superpower and has to accept the reality that there are other countries like China will play an important role. It is time for the U.S. to listen more carefully.
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