To keep Asia safer, the US should not mess it up

拳皇命运如何获取金币 US Acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan recently spoke at the International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS) Shangri-La Dialogue in Singapore. On the same day, the US Department of Defense (DOD) released its Indo-Pacific Strategy Report (IPSR). A day later, China’s State Councilor and Minister of National Defense Wei Fenghe addressed the meeting. These events naturally drew the attention and stirred international public opinion.

Some saw Shanahan’s speech as relatively restrained, not particularly scathing. Shanahan said the US was willing to work with China. He used the word “competition” rather than “conflict” or “confrontation” to define current Sino-US relations. This is thought to be Shanahan’s surprising display of “softness.” But there are other experts who think the underlining tone of Shanahan’s speech is tough.

Shanahan’s speech cannot be separated from the Indo-Pacific Strategy Report released by the US. The report accuses China of being a “predatory economy” and a “revisionist power,” explicitly targeting China with the Indo-Pacific Strategy. Clearly, this carefully considered and long-honed strategy report is more representative of the official US position.

But Shanahan’s tone and language were somewhat mild when he came face-to-face with the Chinese defense minister. The occasion may have reined in Shanahan’s impulses. After all, Asian countries are increasingly worried about the deterioration of Sino-US relations, and all nations know that Washington is primarily responsible for the plummeting ties.

Shanahan however has not softened on specific issues. He specifically mentioned Taiwan, claiming that the US will continue to implement the “Taiwan Relations Act” and “make defense articles and defense services available to Taiwan for its self-defense.” After the twists and turns of recent years, it has become more difficult for the US to sway the countries involved in the South China Sea row as they have become less pugnacious than in the past.

The Taiwan Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) authorities are acting recklessly on the US’ “Indo-Pacific Strategy.” From last year to this year, the frequency of American warships crossing the Taiwan Straits has increased, and the US has passed a series of Taiwan-related anti-China acts. Here in particular, we should warn the Taiwan authorities not to assume that now is their chance to achieve a strategic breakthrough by becoming the political and military pivot of the US’ “Indo-Pacific Strategy.” That would be very dangerous for Taiwan.

Chinese Defense Minister Wei Fenghe made this point very clear in his speech. He said that “if anyone dares to split Taiwan from China, the Chinese military has no choice but to fight at all costs for national unity.” China is committed to peace and opposes provocation. China is fully capable of defending its own security and interests.

All sorts of voices came out from the summit. All parties concerned need to study them carefully and weigh the situation. To create the maximum space for peace and room for maneuver, no one should take the first step toward provocation. The people of the entire region are determined to oppose using military means to resolve disputes.