Shangri-La Dialogue gives nation chance to promote policies, vision
The attendance of China’s defense minister at the Shangri-La Dialogue will be vital amid the current fluctuating international situation, and provide an opportunity to avoid miscalculations among different parties, said experts.
State Councilor and Minister of National Defense General Wei Fenghe has been invited to attend the 19th Shangri-La Dialogue and visit Singapore from June 8 to 12, the Defense Ministry announced on Tuesday.
During the international security forum, Wei will speak on China’s vision for regional order and introduce China’s policies concerning multilateralism, maintaining regional peace and stability, and promoting building a community with a shared future for mankind, the ministry said in a statement.
The minister will meet heads of related foreign delegations to exchange views on international and regional situations, as well as bilateral defense and security cooperation, it said. He will also hold talks with leaders of the Singaporean government and its defense department during his visit.
Wei’s attendance at the Shangri-La Dialogue, which is scheduled to be held from June 10 to 12, will be his second time participating as China’s defense minister, as well as the third time the country has sent its defense minister to take part in the international security forum held by London-based think tank the International Institute for Strategic Studies.
The minister’s participation in the dialogue will be important in detailing China’s defense strategy, especially with the current tense global and regional situations, said Yuan Zheng, deputy director of the Institute of American Studies at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences.
“On one hand, countries in Southeast Asia and around the globe are paying close attention to China’s position and defense policies as the country has been approaching the center of the world stage,” he said.
“On the other hand, the United States has been increasing its presence in this area recently by launching its ‘Indo-Pacific Strategy’ and the US-ASEAN Special Summit,” Yuan said. “From a military perspective, the regional situation is not that stable and military competition here is intensified, which can be indicated by the growth in military expenditures of countries in this region.
“Therefore, at this point, it’s very important for China to send a high-level military official in person to interpret the country’s policies and practice in terms of global stability and security as well as its positions on Taiwan and the South China Sea,” he said.
Wei’s first participation was in 2019 when the minister met foreign senior officials including then acting US Secretary of Defense Patrick Shanahan. In early May, current US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin said at a Senate hearing that he was “looking forward to again engaging” with his counterpart in the Shangri-La Dialogue in June.
“Both China and the United States attach importance to risk management, but they disagree on approaches that are necessary,” said Zhou Bo, a senior fellow at the Center for International Security and Strategy at Tsinghua University.
He added that if a face-to-face exchange takes place, both sides can share views and positions with each other, which is one of the most important ways to avoid miscalculations.
The Shangri-La Dialogue, which was established in 2002, is one of the highest-level multilateral security forums in the world, and is attended by senior defense and military officials every year. This year’s dialogue will be the first held since the pandemic.