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China says it will develop military relationship with the US even as it hits out at the West for ‘stirring up troubles’

BEIJING: China said it will develop its military relationship with the United States even as it hit out at the West for “stirring up troubles” around the world at the opening of a high-profile regional security forum on Monday (Oct 30).

Delivering the opening speech at the closely watched Xiangshan Forum, China’s second most senior military official Zhang Youxia left little doubt on how China felt about its tensions with the West although he did not explicitly name any country.

“Unfortunately, certain countries keep stirring up troubles around the world. They deliberately create turbulence, meddling in regional affairs, interfering in other countries’ internal affairs and instigating colour revolutions,” said General Zhang, referring to a term used to describe popular uprisings.

“Where they put their hands on, there is instability. What’s more, they keep sowing discord for their own interests, resulting in many geopolitical problems.”

General Zhang took to the podium as China opened its biggest annual show of military diplomacy without a defence minister at the helm, with no replacement named yet.

Former defence minister Li Shangfu was removed from the post last week without official explanation, amid reports of a corruption probe.

The Xiangshan Forum is branded as China’s answer to the Shangri-La Dialogue that takes place annually in Singapore, serving as a platform for the Asian giant to air its perspective on security issues.

More than 90 nations and international organisations attended the three-day meeting this year, including the US.

US-TAIWAN RELATIONS

General Zhang also covered several other topics in his speech, including Taiwan, which China views as its own territory, despite the strong objections of the island’s government.

He said the self-ruled island is at the core of China’s interests, and warned that no party should deliberately provoke others on major and sensitive issues. 

“No matter who tries to split Taiwan from China in any form, China and the Chinese military will never allow that to happen, and it will never be soft on them,” he said. 

Beijing has been angered repeatedly over warming ties between the US and Taiwan, launching military drills around the island in August as a warning in response to Taiwanese presidential frontrunner William Lai’s visit to the US. Beijing has also taken offence to the sale of weapons by the US to the island. 

Chinese President Xi Jinping last year said that China’s full reunification with Taiwan is essential to realising national rejuvenation, and that while China will strive for the prospect of a peaceful reunification with Taiwan, it will “never commit” to abandoning the use of force and reserves the option to take all necessary measures.

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US-CHINA RELATIONS

The relationship between China and the US was a key focus at the forum amid expectations of a meeting between Mr Xi and his US counterpart Joe Biden next month, on the sidelines of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) meeting in San Francisco.

Both countries have stepped up engagements in recent times in an attempt to manage their differences, with the US sending a delegation to the security forum, although not at the ministerial level.

US officials previously said they hope this would help kickstart some military engagements, following a chill in dialogue.

General Zhang said that China is willing to work with all other militaries.

“We will continue to deepen strategic trust and cooperation with the Russian military and develop China-US military relationship under the principle of mutual respect, peaceful coexistence and win-win cooperation,” he said.

INTERNATIONAL AND REGIONAL STABILITY

He added that China will continue to play a constructive role in realising international and regional security stability, calling for an immediate ceasefire and a stop to violence by parties involved in the Israel-Hamas conflict.

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