Prof. ST Hsieh
Director, US-China Energy Industry Forum
June 10, 2022
It was the first time that Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin met with People’s Republic of China (PRC) Minister of National Defense General Wei Fenghe since Secretary Austin took office in January 2021. The meeting lasted around one hour, double the scheduled 30 minutes. If they sticked to the schedule, each side would have around seven minutes to speak because of translation took time. Nothing much could be covered in seven minutes, even if it were a monologue. Giving the tense bilateral relation between US and China, as well as the Ukraine war, they should meet more often and allow more time to “dialogue!”
Both sides well understand the reason why their bilateral relation is tense: US and China are in full scale competition. But no one wish to face a direct military confrontation. The world is facing enough tough challenges already: COVID-19 pandemic, global inflation that very likely will become a global recession, the Ukraine war induced food shortage…
It is unfortunate that US and China can’t seem to agree on what are the top priorities of both nations should focus as well as the downside risks if US and China do not get along. For example, Ukraine war was discussed, but no indication that they reached any conclusion on how the war should end. Taiwan is an important issue, but both sides merely repeated their long hold positions, no news.
Anyway, the dialogue was important, it assured each party that their positions have not shifted from the last meeting. Even in between, top political leaders made statements that caused controversy.
Military dialogues should take places more often even they agreed that crisis management hot line is open. Hot lines should be the last resort. As an example, US and China must take the leadership to actively resolve the North Korea and Iran issues before a crisis is erupting. That could be too late to prevent a nuclear conflict.
More bilateral engagements between US and China should be engaged including high-level trade talks.
Secretary Austin’s Meeting With People’s Republic of China (PRC) Minister of National Defense General Wei Fenghe
JUNE 10, 2022
Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III met today with the People’s Republic of China’s (PRC) Minister of National Defense General Wei Fenghe on the margins of the Shangri-La Dialogue in Singapore. Secretary Austin and General Wei discussed U.S.-PRC defense relations and regional security issues.
Secretary Austin discussed the need to responsibly manage competition and maintain open lines of communication. The Secretary underscored the importance of the People’s Liberation Army engaging in substantive dialogue on improving crisis communications and reducing strategic risk.
Secretary Austin discussed global and regional security issues, including the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea and Russia’s unprovoked invasion of Ukraine. The Secretary reiterated to General Wei that the United States remains committed to our longstanding one China policy, which is guided by the Taiwan Relations Act, the Three U.S.-China Joint Communiques, and the Six Assurances. The Secretary reaffirmed the importance of peace and stability across the Strait, opposition to unilateral changes to the status quo, and called on the PRC to refrain from further destabilizing actions toward Taiwan.
Chinese defense minister holds talks with US counterpart in Singapore
Source：China Military Online Editor：Li Wei 2022-06-10
SINGAPORE, June 10 — Chinese State Councilor and Defense Minister General Wei Fenghe held talks with US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin when attending the 19th IISS Shangri-La Dialogue in Singapore on June 10, 2022.
General Wei said that the theme of peace and development in our times is facing severe challenges. The Global Development Initiative (GDI) and the Global Security Initiative (GSI) proposed by Chinese President Xi Jinping have pointed out the right direction for mankind to overcome the crisis. And maintaining peace and stability in the Asian-Pacific region needs joint efforts by the regional countries.
“China expects to establish sound and stable major-country relations with the US, which should also be the direction of joint efforts by both sides,” said General Wei, adding that the US must view China’s development and growth in a rational way, refrain from attacking and smearing China, containing and suppressing China, interfering in China’s internal affairs or harming China’s interests. Only in this way can the China-US relationship go smoothly. General Wei also said that stable military relations are of vital importance to the development of bilateral relations and the two militaries should avoid conflict and confrontation.
General Wei stressed that Taiwan belongs to China. The one-China principle is the political foundation of China-US relationship, and the scheme to use Taiwan to contain China is doomed to fail. He then stated clearly that the US government’s latest approval of arms sales to Taiwan has seriously undermined China’s national sovereignty and security interests, and China resolutely opposes and strongly condemns that. The Chinese government and military will firmly thwart any attempt for “Taiwan independence” and resolutely safeguard national unity.
During the talks, both sides agreed that the two militaries should implement the important consensus reached by the heads of two states, maintain high-level strategic communication, promote strategic mutual trust, and well manage contradictions and divergences, so as not to escalate them into conflicts and confrontation.
The two sides also exchanged views on the international and regional situations, the South China Sea issue and the Ukraine crisis.
Defense News: Pentagon chief meets Chinese counterpart for first time in Singapore
By Mike Yeo Jun 10, 07:08 AM
SINGAPORE – U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin has met his Chinese counterpart for the first time on the eve of a major Asian security forum in Singapore, with both sides agreeing to maintain lines of dialogue in the future.
The meeting lasted 55 minutes, substantially longer than originally scheduled. Wei described the meeting as “candid” to reporters.
A readout of the meeting issued by the Pentagon said Austin also discussed the need to responsibly manage competition and maintain open lines of communication.
They also discussed global and regional security issues, including North Korea and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. A Chinese defense spokesman said after the meeting that China denied providing aid to Russia, Reuters reported.
Taiwan was also key topic of the meeting, with Austin reiterating to Wei that the U.S. remains committed to its longstanding “One China” policy guided by the Taiwan Relations Act, the so-called three U.S.-China joint communiques and the Six Assurances policy. It’s official U.S. policy to recognize Beijing as representing China and to acknowledge its view that it has sovereignty over Taiwan, although Washington also considers Taiwan’s status as unsettled.
Austin also reaffirmed the importance of peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait as well as his government’s opposition to unilateral actions meant to change the status quo, according to the Pentagon readout. He also called on the Chinese government to refrain from further destabilizing actions toward Taiwan, the readout said.
The Chinese Global Times media outlet said Wei told Austin during the meeting that China’s military will not hesitate to crush any attempt at Taiwanese independence, in order to defend national unity, and he again condemned U.S. arms sales to the self-ruling island, which China considers a rogue province.
On Ukraine, the Global Times reported Wei said at the meeting that China always upholds the principle of objectiveness and fairness concerning the issue and is actively making efforts to promote peace and talks.
He added that China would take “resolute countermeasures” if external parties sought to use the conflict in Ukraine to harm Beijing’s interests.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
China draws security red line to US at defense ministers’ longer-than-expected first meeting
By GT staff reportersPublished: Jun 10, 2022 10:46 PM Updated: Jun 10, 2022 11:17 PM
The Chinese military won’t hesitate to fight anyone who dares to separate the island of Taiwan from China, China’s State Councilor and Defense Minister Wei Fenghe told US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin during their first meeting in Singapore at the International Institute for Strategic Studies’ (IISS) 19th Shangri-La Dialogue on Friday.
With the purpose to use Taiwan island and topics on the South China Sea to hype “China threat,” the US seeks to build an iron curtain between China and other Asian countries and to implement its “Indo-Pacific Strategy” by rallying allies, analysts said, noting that China is drawing a bottom line by reiterating its firm stance on the Taiwan question.
Topics on the island of Taiwan, South China Sea, and the Ukraine crisis had been discussed at the defense ministers’ meeting.
There is only one China, and Taiwan is a sacred, inalienable part of China’s territory, Wei told Austin, noting that if anyone dares to separate Taiwan from China, the Chinese military will not hesitate to fight, and will resolutely crush any “Taiwan independence” attempts at all cost to firmly safeguard national sovereignty and territorial integrity, senior Colonel Wu Qian, a spokesperson at China’s Ministry of National Defense, said at a press conference after the meeting.
Austin reiterated to Wei that the US remains committed to its longstanding one-China policy, which is guided by the Taiwan Relations Act, the Three US-China Joint Communiqués, and the Six Assurances. However, he also “reaffirmed” opposition to “unilateral changes to the status quo,” according to a press release from the US Department of Defense.
The Chinese defense minister’s remarks stressed China’s bottom line for the US as Washington has ramped up efforts to link the Russia-Ukraine conflict with the Taiwan question and create tensions in the region, analysts said. They lashed out at the US for taking “a sausage cutting” strategy to hollow out its one-China policy gradually and intensify the situation at the Taiwan Straits.
Analysts said the US is attempting to shift its EU allies’ focus to the Asia-Pacific region and also consolidate its alliance in Asia.
The US and its allies have stepped up efforts to promote the implementation of the “Indo-Pacific Strategy” this year, as it is trying to build an iron curtain between China and others in the Asia-Pacific region, Yang Xiyu, a senior research fellow at the China Institute of International Studies, told the Global Times on Friday.
Yang said that the biggest difference in this year’s Shangri-La Dialogue is that the Asia-Pacific region is now facing an unprecedented strategic instability. The conflict between Russia and Ukraine has spilled over to the world. NATO is going global, and Western countries have deliberately added fuel to the fire by linking Ukraine with Taiwan, which are irrelevant.
Wei and Austin’s meeting on Friday is of significance to implementing the important consensus between the two countries’ top leaders and pushing forward the development of the two countries’ military ties, said Senior Colonel Wu, noting the conversation was a frank, positive and constructive strategic communication.
Both sides agreed that the two militaries should carefully implement the key consensus reached by the two countries’ top leaders, keep frequent communication and manage risks and crises, Wu noted.
The significance of the meeting is that it proved the two countries’ high-level conversation is sustainable. Even if the two sides crossed swords with words, being able to exchange views in a frank manner means both sides are willing to implement the consensus reached by the two countries’ top leaders, Yang said.
The conversation between the Chinese and US defense ministers has a positive meaning to the deepening of strategic communication, the exploration in the construction of a “guardrail” for China-US relations, as well as the management of risk, Cao Yanzhong, a research fellow at the Academy of Military Sciences of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA), told the Global Times on Friday.