What should we know about the Shangri-La Dialogue’s Sino-US Defense Ministers talks?

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Shangri-La Dialogue
US Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin meets with Chinese Defense Minister Gen. Wei Fenghe at the Shangri-La Dialogue in Singapore, June 10, 2022. (Source: U.S. DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE_

What can the US and Chinese defense ministers agree on? 

The mood is obviously tit for tat and not cheerful. Normal communication is essential. It is obviously beneficial for the two global powers, China and the United States, to find consensus on global issues, but it is also critical for the two sides to maintain open communication channels in order to avoid misjudgment and promote effective communication between the two sides. Austin also stated in early May that we all realize the necessity of conversation and keeping the pipeline open. 

The frequency of contact between the two military has decreased from more than 40 times in 2013 to 11 times in 2019. From August 2020 to April 2022, the two sides will not undertake leadership-level defense discussions. If this trend continues, the two main countries will be in grave risk of more misunderstandings and miscalculations. It is also quite likely that no mechanism exists to prevent malignant events from occurring at vital times. 

Relations between China and the United States have been strained in recent months. China’s heightened military pressure on Taiwan, China’s military activity in the South China Sea, and Beijing’s efforts to expand its influence in the Pacific have sparked tensions between the world’s two largest economies. 

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Learn about each other’s military and security strategies, as well as financial conditions. According to Wei Fenghe, China aims to develop a healthy and stable major-country relationship with the United States, which should also be the focus of joint Chinese-American efforts. The US must see China’s development and expansion objectively, rather than attacking and smearing China, containing and suppressing China, and interfering in China’s internal affairs or harming China’s interests. Only in this manner can China-US ties improve. 

The United States does not want a breakthrough. According to the Defense Department source, a fundamental US priority is to assist develop guardrails in the military-to-military relationship to minimize rivalry from getting out of hand. “From our perspective, the summit should concentrate on controlling competitiveness on regional and global challenges.” (M.Raihan Ronodipuro)

M.Raihan Ronodipuro has earned a Master of Law in International Relations from the School of International and Public Affairs at Jilin University in China. He serves as an Associate Researcher in the Department of Politics and Security at the Center for Indonesia-China Studies (CICS). Raihan is currently working as a special aide to the Great Indonesia Movement Party (Gerindra) faction at the House of Representatives of the Republic of Indonesia (DPR RI), assigned to committee 1 (defense, foreign, and Information Affairs).