A Cold War mentality is re-emerging in the Asia-Pacific region, said China’s Defense Minister Li Shangfu, but Beijing is seeking dialogue over confrontation. The remarks came after Lee refused to meet formally with the US Secretary of Defense, Lloyd Austin, at the Shangri-La Dialogue in Singapore.
Speaking at the Dialogue, the Asia Security Summit, on Sunday, Lee conducted bare-bones digs in the United States, repeating his familiar grievances and accusing “some countries” of intensifying the arms race and meddling in the internal affairs of others.
“The Cold War mentality is now re-emerging, which greatly increases the security risks,” he said. Mutual respect must prevail over bullying and domination.
Li, a general in the Chinese People’s Liberation Army, has been under US sanctions since 2018 over the purchase of fighter jets and equipment from Russia’s main arms exporter, Rosoboronexport.
The general told the audience that China will not tolerate attempts by Taiwan independence forces or outside forces to separate Taiwan from China.
Taiwan is a self-governing island that considers itself independent and has never been ruled by the Chinese Communist Party regime. The Chinese president, Xi Jinping, has made it the goal of reunifying Taiwan with the Chinese mainland, by force if necessary.
Austin chided China in his speech on Saturday for refusing to hold military talks, which have left the great powers deadlocked over democratically ruled Taiwan and territorial disputes in the South China Sea.
Relations between Washington and Beijing are strained over a host of issues, including Taiwan, the South China Sea and President Joe Biden’s restrictions on exports of semiconductor chips.
A senior delegation from the US State Department arrived in Beijing on Sunday as Washington seeks to enhance communication with China. The US State Department said Daniel Kreitenbrink, Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs, will discuss “key issues in the bilateral relationship” during his visit. Krittenbrink was accompanied by Sarah Biran, the White House National Security Council senior director for China and Taiwan.
On Sunday, China’s military criticized the United States and Canada for “deliberately raising risks” after allied navies made a rare joint sail through the Taiwan Strait. The US Navy’s Seventh Fleet said the guided-missile destroyer USS Chung Hun and Canada’s HMCS Montreal conducted a “routine” transit of the strait on Saturday “through waters where freedom of navigation and overflight on the high seas applies in accordance with international law.”
The US military said that during the crossing, a Chinese warship clipped the Chong Hun’s bow twice, forcing it to slow down to avoid collision. This is the second close confrontation between the US and Chinese armies in less than 10 days, after one of Beijing’s combat aircraft deviated in front of one of Washington’s surveillance planes.
On Sunday, Lee questioned why the ships of the United States and its allies were there in the first place. China has had no problems with “innocent passage” but “we must block attempts to use this freedom of navigation.” [patrols]this innocent passage, to exercise hegemony over navigation.”
The danger was created by the United States and its allies, Lee suggested, and should instead focus on “taking good care of your territorial airspace and waters.”
He said that “the best way is for countries, especially the naval vessels and combat aircraft of countries, not to close the procedures around the territory of other countries.”
“What’s the point of going there? In China we always say, ‘Mind your own business.'”
“Basically, attempts to push for the likes of NATO,” Lee told the Singapore summit [alliances] In the Asia-Pacific region, it is a means to hijack the countries of the region and amplify conflicts and confrontations, which will only lead to plunging the Asia-Pacific region into a whirlpool of disputes and conflicts.
Today’s Asia-Pacific region needs open and inclusive cooperation, not small groups. We must not forget the severe disasters that the two world wars brought to the people of all countries, and we must not allow such a tragic history to repeat itself.
He did not name any country explicitly to me, but he seemed to be referring to the United States, which supports alliances and partnerships in the region. The United States is a member of the Aukus Alliance, which includes it along with Australia and Britain. Washington is also a member of the Quartet along with Australia, India and Japan.
Lee shook hands with Austin at a Friday dinner, but the two never had a deeper discussion, despite repeated American demands for more military exchanges.
Speaking privately on the sidelines of the conference, two Chinese military officers said Beijing wanted clear signals from Washington on a less confrontational approach to Asia – including lifting sanctions against Li – before military talks could resume.
With Reuters and Associated Press
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