China’s defense minister warned against a growing escalation between his country and the United States, saying war would be “an unbearable disaster for the world.”
While speaking at the Shangri-La Dialogue, a meeting of the world’s top defense officials in Singapore, General Li Shangfu urged his country and the United States to set aside their differences and improve their relationship for the benefit of the world. “China and the U.S. have different systems and are different in many other ways,” Li said in his first significant international address since becoming China’s Minister of National Defense in March.
“However, this should not keep the two sides from seeking common ground and common interests to grow bilateral ties and deepen cooperation. It is undeniable that a severe conflict or confrontation between China and the U.S. will be an unbearable disaster for the world,” he continued, according to Reuters.
War with the US would be “unbearable disaster”, says China https://t.co/jFO5kJK4vy
— BBC News (World) (@BBCWorld) June 4, 2023
Li’s comments came just days after he refused the Pentagon’s suggestion to meet with U.S. military leaders at the Shangri-La Dialogue. U.S. military leaders were hoping talks would restore high-level communications with Beijing and ease tensions that have increased over Taiwan, the ongoing war in Ukraine, and the spy balloon that crossed the U.S. earlier this year, NBC reported. (RELATED: Suspected Chinese Spies Posing As Tourists Are Trying To Infiltrate US Military Bases: REPORT)
China’s new ambassador to the U.S., Xie Feng, echoed those sentiments, expressing a desire to “increase dialogue” and cooperation in an attempt to get the relationship between the two countries “back to the right track” in May, according to NBC News.
Despite those expressed desires for cooperation and an increase in diplomacy, a Chinese warship crossed into the path of a U.S. Navy destroyer Saturday in what has been condemned as an “unsafe interaction” by American officials, Reuters reported.
The USS Chung-Hoon and Canada’s HSMC Montreal, a frigate was reportedly on a “routine” transit in the Taiwan Strait, a body of water that separates mainland China from Taiwan, when a Chinese warship came within 150 yards of the U.S. ship, forcing the destroyer to take evasive maneuvers to avoid a collision, ABC News reported.
China later defended its actions, stating that the U.S. had “caused trouble and provocation first,” and stating that the measures taken by the Chinese military were “completely reasonable, legitimate, and professional and safe,” Reuters reported, citing a statement by Wang Wenbin, a spokesperson at the Chinese foreign ministry.
The warship incident was the second such “close call” with the Chinese military as U.S. Indo-Pacific Command (INDOPACOM) announced May 26 that a Chinese warplane had “buzzed” a U.S. spy plane over the South China Sea.
“The RC-135 was conducting safe and routine operations over the South China Sea in international airspace, in accordance with international law,” INDOPACOM said at the time.
“China seeks to develop a new type of major-country relationship with the United States. As for the U.S. side, it needs to act with sincerity, match its words with deeds, and take concrete actions together with China to stabilize the relations and prevent further deterioration,” Li stated at the Shangri-La Dialogue, according to Fox News.
Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin also spoke at the Shangri-La Dialogue Saturday, telling attendees the U.S. would not “flinch in the face of bullying or coercion” from China and would continue to sail through and fly over the Taiwan Strait and the South China Sea, emphasizing their designation as international waters, Fox News reported.