US & China Defence Chiefs Holding Rare Face-to-Face Meeting in S’pore This Weekend

Every year, hundreds of powerful delegates representing different countries gather for a forum to discuss global security.

It’s not as fun as Comic Con though.

Global leaders actually have to follow a tight schedule, and they take turns to give a speech on what their country is doing to ensure they are maintaining peace and cooperating well with others.

Now, it was reported that the US and Chinese defence chiefs are going to be at this year’s global security gathering.

So what? Their last productive face-to-face talk was 18 months ago, and this time, there are a lot more things they need to discuss.

Here’s everything you need to know.

Shangri-La Dialogue in Singapore

The IISS Shangri-La Dialogue is described as “Asia’s premier defence summit”.

It is where global ministers “debate the region’s most pressing security challenges”, “engage in important bilateral talks”, and most importantly, work together to present good solutions.

This year, the IISS Shangri-La Dialogue is expected to happen in our very own backyard over the weekend, from 31 May to 2 June, at the Shangri-La Hotel.

US and China Defence Chiefs in Attendance

According to the event’s schedule published on its website, the United States will be having a session to discuss its strategic partnerships in the region, while China will have an allocated session to share their approach to global security.

What’s the big deal?

In case you didn’t know, everyone, including the global leaders, can typically get a sense of how good or tense the relationship between the US and China is, through this annual forum.

According to the IISS Shangri-La Dialogue Report 2023, the tensions between these superpowers have only worsened in recent years.

In fact, the US Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin and China’s then-Defence Minister General Wei Fenghe were supposed to meet in the dialogue last year, but that didn’t happen.

The Pentagon said that we can expect them to have a substantive discussion during the event, as they aim to talk about China’s influence over the South China Sea, US and China’s developments in Taiwan and China’s growing military strength.

This is (hopefully) a good sign of improving US-China relations after military talks between them were suspended in late 2022, following the visit of former speaker of the US House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi in Taiwan.

As mentioned, the Dialogue will be starting on Friday (31 May). This is one week after it was reported that China held military drills in Taiwan and warned them that there might be a war over the island.

This is a no-no to the US because the US is supporting Taiwan in their fight for independence from China.

China is also upset with the US because the US is strengthening their defence relations with countries in the Asia-Pacific, especially the Philippines, said CNA.

This seems to allude to a potential challenge against China’s influence over the region because China is also trying to assert their dominance over the South China Sea.

Looking at reports on previous Dialogues, this forum is the perfect opportunity for global leaders to kaypoh about what other countries are doing.

We can only hope that these two military giants can hash it out then – because nobody wants a third world war.

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