Defense Minister Li Shangfu Presents China’s Vision for a Global Security Initiative
June 5, 2023, 2022 (EIRNS)—China’s Defense Minister Gen. Li Shangfu, on June 4, the last day of the Shangri-La Dialogue in Singapore, responded to U.S. Defense Secretary Austin’s belligerent presentation from the day before, in which he had accused China of refusing to allow him to meet with the Chinese Defense Minister. Austin also again elaborated, as he had at the same forum a year before, on the U.S. Indo-Pacific strategy, namely uniting U.S. allies in the region aimed clearly at China. (In fact, Austin flew from Singapore to India, to try to further that strategy.) The speech of General Li was therefore packed with observers.
Li very diplomatically countered Austin, by introducing President Xi’s proposal for a Global Security Initiative. While underlining the importance of maintaining peace in the Asia-Pacific region, he also asked the participants to raise the question of why there was now concern with the growing tensions in the Asia-Pacific. He went on to note that “some country ... color revolutions and proxy wars in different regions, created chaos and turbulence, and just walked away, leaving a mess behind. We must never allow such things to happen again in the Asia-Pacific.”
He said that
“First, mutual respect should prevail over bullying and hegemony.... We are strongly opposed to imposing one’s own will on others, placing one’s own interests above those of others, and pursuing one’s own security at the expense of others. ... Second, fairness and justice should transcend the law of the jungle.... Third, eliminating conflicts and confrontation through mutual trust and consultation. ... Fourth, preventing bloc confrontation with openness and inclusiveness.
“Today, what the Asia-Pacific needs are big pies of open and inclusive cooperation, not small cliques that are self-serving and exclusive. We must never forget the catastrophes inflicted by the two world wars and the Cold War. And we must never allow such tragedies to happen again,”
He warned, It is undeniable that a severe conflict or confrontation between China and the U.S. will be an unbearable disaster for the world” and urged: “As for the US side, it needs to act with sincerity, match its words with deeds and take concrete actions together with China to stabilize the relations and prevent further deterioration.”
Li also outlined the positive role that China had played in the international arena, with its commitment to UN peacekeeping and most importantly with the Belt and Road Initiative, which had brought so much benefit to poor countries in the developing world. He also expressed the important role China was playing in trying to create the basis for peace in Ukraine.
He further admonished against U.S. attempts to “hollow out” the agreements with China on the very sensitive Taiwan questions, stressing that “China must be and will be reunified. ... If anyone dares to separate Taiwan from China, the Chinese military will not hesitate for a second. We will fear no opponents and resolutely safeguard national sovereignty and territorial integrity, regardless of any cost.” Moreover, he warned, in the South China Sea, “The sound momentum towards greater stability must not be disrupted.... However, we do see some countries outside the region exercise their hegemony of navigation in the name of freedom of navigation.”
In the open discussion, he expressed that it would be very important for the U.S. and China to hold talks at the highest level in the military realm, but pointed out that the present environment, in which Li himself is under U.S. administration sanctions, could not lead to a positive outcome of such a meeting. “But we have our principles to communication. We hope our exchanges, cooperation will be based on mutual respect. That is a very fundamental principle. If we do not even have mutual respect, then our communication will not be productive. Mutual respect and equality should be the foundation for our communications,” he concluded his response.
He took the opportunity of his inaugural presence at the Dialogue to hold a good number of bilateral meetings with defense ministers from many other nations attending the event.