War with the US would be an unimaginable calamity, China’s defense minister

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Li Shangfu became defence minister in March. Image source: AFP

In his first significant address since taking the position, China’s defense minister declared that a war with the US would be a “unbearable disaster” for the entire globe.

During a security summit, General Li Shangfu expressed concerns about the escalating arms race in Asia, mentioning that certain countries were intensifying their efforts.

However, he emphasized that despite the challenges, the world was vast enough to accommodate both China and the United States.

General Li suggested that the two superpowers should strive to find areas of common interest and work towards mutual understanding.

Prior to the summit, the United States had raised allegations of “unsafe” maneuvers performed by a Chinese destroyer near an American warship in the Taiwan Strait.

The incident occurred when a Chinese destroyer, accompanied by Canadian vessels, reportedly sailed in an unsafe manner in close proximity to the American warship during its transit through the Taiwan Strait.

The U.S. Navy raised concerns regarding the behavior of the Chinese destroyer, highlighting potential risks involved in such actions.

China’s response was to condemn both nations for purposefully posing hazards. Insisting on their right to sail in the authorized regions, the United States and Canada argued that their activities were legal under international law.

General Li, who took over as defense minister in March, decried what he called the “Cold War mentality” that exists in the United States and expressed worry about the growing security vulnerabilities brought on by it.

He highlighted that China will not allow naval patrols carried out by the US and its allies to be used as an excuse to claim hegemony over navigation.

General Li avoided giving a straight reaction when asked about the incident in the Taiwan Strait, instead speculating that nations outside the area were escalating tensions.

The only annual security forum in the Asia-Pacific area, the Shangri-La Dialogue, was held in Singapore when General Li Shangfu made his remarks.

Beijing and Washington’s relationship is strained as a result of China’s rejection of an American proposal for direct military negotiations.

Due to General Li’s participation in purchasing weapons from Russia, the U.S. imposed sanctions on him in 2018. This refusal was a result of those penalties.

U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin lambasted China for its reluctance to engage in military negotiations during the Singapore summit, citing the matter as a source of conflict between the two countries.

During the opening supper of the event on Friday, sources reported that General Austin and General Li briefly shook hands and exchanged a few words. However, there were no detailed discussions between them.

China’s delegates stated that the lifting of U.S. sanctions against General Li was a prerequisite for engaging in talks, as reported by AFP.

According to Reuters, senior intelligence officials were also present at the Singapore summit, representing various countries’ intelligence agencies.

Despite the ongoing diplomatic dispute, a senior member of the U.S. State Department has arrived in Beijing for a week of extensive talks, indicating an attempt to continue dialogue despite the strained relations.

In recent years, tensions between Washington and Beijing have escalated due to various factors, including China’s territorial claims in Taiwan and conflicts in the South China Sea.

These issues have contributed to the deterioration of relations between the two nations.


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