Asia Security Summit Begins Amid US-China Tensions
The annual Shangri-La Dialogue, a high-level security conference attended by defense ministers, military chiefs, and security experts from across the Asia-Pacific region, kicked off on Saturday amid rising tensions between the United States and China.
US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, who was attending the summit for the first time, warned that a military conflict between Taiwan and China would be “devastating” and criticized China’s “coercion and bullying” in the region.
Austin’s comments came after China’s military leader, General Xu Qiliang, snubbed him by not attending a meeting that had been arranged between the two officials. Xu’s absence was seen as a sign of China’s escalating tensions with the US.
Despite the tensions, Austin was able to meet with his Chinese counterpart, Wei Fenghe, and the two men shook hands in a gesture of goodwill.
The summit, which is being held virtually due to the COVID-19 pandemic, will focus on regional security issues and the implications of the shifting balance of power in the region.
Analysts say the summit is an opportunity for countries in the region to voice their concerns about China’s increasingly assertive behavior and to seek reassurance from the US that it remains committed to the region’s security.
The ongoing tensions between the US and China have raised concerns about the risk of a military conflict in the region and the potential global implications of such a conflict. The summit is seen as an important platform for dialogue and cooperation between countries in the Asia-Pacific region, and a potential bridge between the US and China.