( Image credits : New Straits Times)
All eyes are now on Singapore, where all preparations are now complete for the Asia security summit. It is expected that the summit will play a crucial role in easing the rising tensions in the Asia Pacific region and reducing the arms buildup.
The Singapore International Defence Summit or the Shangri-La Dialogue would bring together the defence chiefs of many nations including from USA and China. The dialogue starts on Friday and rifts between the United States and China are evident even before it gets to the table.
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The Evident Friction
( Image credits : Politico )
The People’s Republic of China has refused to let its Minister of Defence Mr Li Shangfu conduct meetings with his American counterpart, the Secretary of Defence of the United States Mr Lloyd Austin while at the forum.
Earlier this week the Pentagon stated that the People’s Republic of China has declined the invitation of the United States for a meeting between the defence chiefs of both nations.
The Minister of National Defense of China Mr. Li Shangfu was earlier sanctioned by the United States in 2018 when he was serving as the chief of China’s military equipment development division. The action was levied for the purchase of weapons from a sanctioned Russian firm and China has stated that no meeting shall be held until and unless those sanctions are lifted.
Both the United States of America and the People’s Republic of China will be sending a large delegate team to the summit, that include diplomats, defence contractors, journalists, academics and analysts from around the Asia-Pacific region.
( Image credits : Reuters )
Last month, the National Security Advisor of the United States Mr Jake Sullivan was able to conduct a meeting with his Chinese counterpart, Mr Wang Yi, China’s top Diplomat. The Bilateral meeting took place in Vienna, which was quickly followed by discussions between both the nation’s commerce chiefs.
During his meeting with the Japanese Minister of Defense Hamada Yasukazu, Secretary Austin told the Minister that the decline of the Pentagon’s invitation by the People’s Republic was unfortunate. He further added that he hoped China would alter their actions before things might go out of control.
The Taiwan Agreement
( Image credits : Reuters )
Amidst all the chaos surrounding the summit and China’s stand, a group of representatives from the United States signed an agreement with Taiwan on the eve of the security summit. The agreement was signed by unofficial entities that maintain relations between the United States and Taiwan. China has had long-standing troubles with the island nation and claims the entire area to be a part of the Chinese People’s Republic.
The Race for Asia
( Image credits : Quora)
With both the United States and China aiming to build stronger ties and deepen alliances in Southeast Asia, the summit becomes a very much-needed forum to address the growing concerns of other Southeast Asian nations.
The United States has been trying to strengthen its ties not only with Japan and South Korea but also with Australia and ASEAN nations. Defense Secretary Austin is currently on his seventh tour of Asia after taking charge.
The two most powerful nations in Southeast Asia, Indonesia and the Philippines have already decided to upgrade their defence ties with the United States. Indonesia and the United States along with 12 other nations conducted a military exercise last fall and the United States has cemented its presence in the Philippines by increasing its number of military bases from 5 to 9 and also increasing the training exercises.