Laura Rosenberger in Taiwan. Daniel Kreitenbrink in Beijing. The day after the conclusion of the Shangri-La Dialogue in Singapore, the United States moved the pawns on both sides of the strait, and sent the head of the American Institute to Taiwan and the assistant secretary of state for Asian affairs on an eastern and Pacific mission. The goal: to restart communication channels and avoid a hypothetical conflict that could be “devastating”. That’s the one thing that Lloyd Austin and Li Shangfu, the Pentagon chief and China’s defense minister, the protagonists of three days of opposing maneuvers at the summit on Asian security, agreed upon.
“After all, the Cold War has also led to good things,” it is repeated twice in Shangri-La’s dialogue, as if it were a reference model. John Chipman, president of the institute organizing the summit (IISS), and Singapore’s defense minister, Ing Ing Hen, refer to the agreement signed between the USA and the USSR on nuclear weapons. The City-State Minister distributed data on the massive increase in military spending, stressing that in the absence of dialogue and common practices, there is a risk of a new arms race. Let’s remember then, as the Indonesian Prabowo Subianto also did: “This region has suffered severe consequences from the clash of powers,” he warns. Among the passes of Shangri-La there are those who draw a possible new iron curtain, or rather water: “Pacific Ocean west of Guam to the United States, Pacific Ocean east of Guam to China.” The owner doesn’t think so: “The United States and China are here to stay, they must find a way to coexist in this region.”
They don’t come from above Positive signs in this regard. Austin criticized Beijing’s “attempts to change the status quo” over the disputed lands and seas. Li accused the United States of bringing instability and chaos with its “Cold War mentality.” Once again, Taiwan is at the center of the dispute. After a near collision between the ships in the strait, Lee justified the maneuver: «The United States uses freedom of navigation as an excuse to exercise hegemony. How do you avoid accidents? Do not sail near Chinese territory. Words that portend other perils in a new transit.
Someone seems to agree with him. For example, Jose Ramos-Horta. The President of East Timor justifies the rapprochement between the global south and China: “Many were left alone, and with Beijing they are no longer so.” He then asks “outside nationals” to “avoid provocative actions” in Taiwan. Representatives of Japan and South Korea, as well as Vietnam, were more cautious than expected. The Philippines is very bold, participating for the first time in a quadruple with the United States of America, Japan and Australia, and taking another step towards the mechanisms of security platforms such as the quad.
In Singapore, the only dialogue between the US and China was that between intelligence chiefs who took part in what Reuters described as a “secret meeting”. This indicates a serious deterioration in the official diplomatic channels. The Chinese delegates made it clear that without lifting sanctions on Li, it would be difficult to reopen military talks. His recent appointment as minister is instrumental in persuading Washington to accept the officials Beijing chooses, hence its development model. It was no coincidence that Lee insisted on the concept of “mutual respect”.
both of them It looks like they’re still trying to figure out how to keep talking to each other. Little is known about Kreitenbrink’s trip, except that he was accompanied by Sarah Biran, director for China and Taiwan at the National Security Council. Objective: «Discuss the main issues in bilateral relations». The role of Biran and Rosenberger’s simultaneous visit to Taipei indicate that the Straits will be high on the agenda. Not under the pretext of reaching an agreement, but, perhaps, to somehow “regulate” the quarrel.
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