Chinese Defense Minister Li Changfu said on Sunday that conflict with the United States would be an “unbearable disaster” but that his country sought dialogue over the confrontation.
Speaking at the Shangri-La Asia Security Dialogue, dressed as a general in the People’s Liberation Army, Li said the world is big enough for China and the United States to grow together.
« La Chine et les États-Unis ont des systèmes différents et sont différents à bien d’autres égards », at-il declared in his discours marquant son of premier grand discours international depuis his nomination au poste de ministre chinois de la Defense in Mars.
“But this should not prevent the two sides from seeking common ground and common interests to develop bilateral relations and deepen cooperation,” he said. “It is undeniable that a serious conflict or confrontation between China and the United States would be an unbearable disaster for the world.”
Relations between Washington and Beijing are deeply strained over a host of issues, including democratically-ruled Taiwan, territorial disputes in the South China Sea, and President Joe Biden’s restrictions on exports of semiconductor chips.
In their latest dispute, China’s military criticized the United States and Canada for “deliberately raising the stakes” after the two countries’ navies carried out a rare joint cruise through the sensitive Taiwan Strait on Saturday.
US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin blasted China in a speech at the security meeting in Singapore on Saturday for refusing to hold military talks, leaving the two superpowers deadlocked over their differences.
Lee was more reserved in his rhetoric, though he did little digging in the United States, and accused “certain nations” of escalating the arms race and willfully interfering in the internal affairs of others.
“The Cold War mentality is re-emerging, which has greatly increased security risks,” he said. Mutual respect must prevail over intimidation and control.
Lee, who was sanctioned by the United States in 2018 over arms purchases from Russia, shook hands with Austin over dinner on Friday, but the two did not have a further discussion, despite repeated US demands for more military exchanges.
Speaking privately on the sidelines of the conference, two Chinese military officers said Beijing wanted clear signals from Washington about a less confrontational approach to Asia – including lifting sanctions on Lee – before military talks resume.