Shangri-La Forum: China threatens to conquer Taiwan

Status: 04.06.2023 2:54 p.m

China sets the tone in the Shangri-La dialogue: In his speech, Defense Minister Li warned unusually clearly against interference from abroad. He openly threatened Taiwan with war. The fear of an escalation is growing.

Chinese Defense Minister Li Shangfu’s speech at the Shangri-La Forum in Singapore was eagerly awaited. Because Chinese defense politicians hardly ever speak publicly outside of the People’s Republic.

According to most observers, expectations were not disappointed, albeit in a way that many listeners did not exactly enjoy. Take Taiwan as an example: General Li once again threatened the democratically governed island republic with war on the open stage. When in doubt, China’s military will not hesitate for a second.

The defense minister emphasized that the more the “breakaway activities” in Taiwan increase, the more resolutely China’s leadership will take countermeasures. Any foreign interference in this matter is doomed to fail.

According to Li, the US wants to keep China small

China’s state and party leadership sees Taiwan as part of the People’s Republic, but the island has been de facto independent since 1949 and has developed into a self-confident liberal democracy with its own identity in recent decades.

China’s defense minister again accused the United States in Singapore of overly meddling in Asia-Pacific affairs. The US government wants to keep China small and prevent his country’s rise, Li said.

“In the past few years, China-US relations have deteriorated at their worst since diplomatic relations were established,” the Chinese defense minister said. And referring to the US government, he said to the audience: “I think you all know the reason for this difficult situation!” A blame game that is largely not shared by representatives of democratically governed states who attended the Shangri-La Forum in Singapore.

The Asia expert Rühlig sees China’s new management team as a sign of isolation from the West.

Bütikofer: A clear signal to the USA

“I perceived this speech as particularly aggressive,” said Reinhard Bütikofer, China expert for the Greens group in the European Parliament. “I would go so far as to say that it reminded me of President Vladimir Putin’s famous speech at the 2007 Munich Security Conference.”

In the past, the Chinese would not necessarily have questioned that Americans are an Indo-Pacific country. “Now Li said: ‘You have no business in our region.'”

concern for the coming months and years

With Boris Pistorius, a German defense minister traveled to the security conference for the first time in several years. A trip to a region where it is becoming increasingly dangerous, Pistorius said. “All the signals that I perceive here are of concern,” said the SPD politician. “They are guided by the question: How will this develop in the coming months and years?”

The German Defense Minister met his Chinese counterpart in Singapore for bilateral talks. Instead of the originally planned 30 minutes, the conversation lasted more than an hour, Pistorius said after the meeting.

Pistorius called on China’s defense minister to stop the training program immediately.

Pistorius reports an open conversation

It was an open conversation in which clear words were spoken, said Pistorius afterwards. He indirectly criticized the Chinese defense minister’s refusal to meet with his US counterpart Lloyd Austin, who was also in Singapore. “There is no substitute for sensible communication with each other,” explained Pistorius. “And that also applies to the Chinese.”

In such a situation, which has become significantly more critical in the past 15 months, it is more important than ever to reduce the risk of misunderstandings and escalation through regular exchange and transparency on important issues.

The Federal Defense Minister announced in Singapore that the German Navy will again send two warships to the Indo-Pacific next year. And that is very much appreciated by the partner countries in the region, said Pistorius.

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