By Xu Hailin (Global Times, 22 May 2019) – Chinese State Councilor and Minister of National Defense Wei Fenghe “will deliver a ‘highly anticipated’ speech at the upcoming IISS Shangri-La Dialogue 2019″ in Singapore on June 2, according to the International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS), organizer of the event.
Wei’s anticipated presence sends out a very strong signal that China is advancing both its soft and hard power. Capable of unswervingly safeguarding China’s sovereignty, China’s military strength is also an important force to maintain regional and world peace.
Increasing the transparency of national defense is conducive for China to improve its affinity, especially when the US is sparing no efforts at suppressing China and forcing China’s neighboring countries to pick sides. Such a move also indicates that China will be more proactive in deepening relations with surrounding countries.
Wei’s presence will provide a unique opportunity for attendees to engage with one of the leaders of the People’s Liberation Army, allowing more people to comprehend China’s national defense policies. This will assure a foundation for China and countries around the South China Sea to build benign military mutual trust.
Taking good care of surroundings is a top priority of China. Cooperation should be a mainstream aspect of relations between China and neighboring countries, although there are disputes about some issues. Communication at all levels, including in the military field, can help reduce differences and increase mutual trust.
The US policies toward China have changed since last year with its containment measures becoming increasingly comprehensive. In addition to launching the trade war and engaging in a technology cold war, the US has repeatedly provoked China with the South China Sea and Taiwan questions, aiming to create tensions. China must fight back hard against any provocation that attempts to jeopardize China’s core interests.
The US has frequently intervened in regional affairs. Taking advantage of its great military and economic strength, the US has strong-armed neighboring countries of China and forged antagonism against China, harming Asian peace, stability and development.
Explaining China’s national defense policies to the world, and surrounding countries in particular, striving for more support and further deepening cooperation to counter destructive US moves, will be an important task for China in future.
China has developed stable cooperation with 25 neighboring Asian countries. In the first 11 months of 2018, the volume of trade between the two sides reached $1.32 trillion, accounting for 31 percent of China’s total foreign trade in the same period.
In the past year, through high level visits, economic and trade consultations, as well as cooperation under the China-proposed Belt and Road Initiative, China achieved positive results from proactive efforts in expanding and deepening cooperation with neighboring countries.
In the military field, China has established a consultation mechanism about defense with 17 neighboring countries, maintained high-end relations with Russia and feeping steady ties with the US.
During the upcoming IISS Shangri-La Dialogue, China will make full use of the multilateral platform to make more friends and communicate with more leading figures of Asia-Pacific countries’ defense departments and armies to build consensus, and make the best efforts to maintain regional stability and development.