By Yungdung Tsomo
DHARAMSALA, 7 June: After refusing to formally meet US defence secretary Lloyd Austin at the top Asian security forum, China’s defence minister Li Shangfu has said that a cold war mentality is resurgent in the Asian Pacific region but Beijing prefers dialogue over confrontation.
“A cold war mentality is now resurgent, greatly increasing security risks,” Li, dressed in the People’s Liberation Army said at Shangri-La Dialogue in Singapore, Asia’s top security summit, on Sunday, the Guardian reported.
“Mutual respect should prevail over bullying and hegemony.”
China’s defence minister has further said that “the USA and China have different systems and are different in many other ways,” and added that “this should not keep the two sides from seeking common ground and common interests to grow bilateral ties and deepen cooperation.
Li, a general of the People’s Liberation Army has said in no uncertain terms that “a severe conflict or confrontation between China and the US will be an unbearable disaster for the world.”
He further stated that the world is big enough for the growth of both China and the USA.
The general has also said that China will not tolerate any effort either from Taiwan’s independent groups or external forces to support the separation of Taiwan from its motherland, China.
Beijing claims self-ruled and democratic Taiwan as its own and views it as a wayward province to be reunified with China by force if necessary.
Taiwan has been self-governed since 1949 when Chiang Kai-shek’s Kuomintang troops fled to the island after losing China’s civil war to Mao’s Communist Party.
The US defence secretary Lloyd Austin has criticised China for its refusal to engage in military talks that he said resulted in a deadlock between the two superpowers over Taiwan, and territorial disputes in the South China Sea.
The report noted that the relationship between the US and China is strained on multiple fronts, including disagreements over Taiwan, the South China Sea, and President Joe Biden’s restriction on semiconductor chip exports.
Li, who became China’s defence minister in March has been under US sanctions since 2018 for purchasing combat aircraft and equipment from Russia’s main arms exporter, Rosoboronexport.
The IISS Shangri- la Dialogue, Asia’s premier defence summit serves as a platform for the ministers to discuss and address the most critical security challenges facing the region. It facilitates important bilateral discussions and encourages the development of innovative approaches to the challenges. The 2023 edition of the event was held in Singapore from 2nd to 4th June.