Chinese Defense Minister Li Shangfu has made public for the first time his fears over the possibility of war with the US. Speaking at the Shangri-La Dialogue in Singapore, he said that a conflict with the US would be an intolerable disaster. In such a situation, he called for dialogue instead of confrontation. Li said the world is too big for China and the US to grow together. He made this comment a few days after he refused to meet with the US Defense Secretary recently. Li Shangfu was named China’s defense minister in March this year. The Shangri-La Dialogue is also his first major international address. The US had imposed sanctions on Li Shangfu under CATSA on 20 September 2018 for the purchase of Su-35 fighter aircraft from Russia.
Li Shangfu said that China and the US have many different systems. However, this should not deter both sides from seeking common ground and common interests to enhance bilateral relations and deepen cooperation. He also said that there is no disputing the fact that a serious conflict or confrontation between China and the US would be an intolerable disaster for the world. Dressed in the uniform of a People’s Liberation Army general, Li delivered his address on the 34th anniversary of the 1989 Tiananmen Square crackdown.
There is a dispute between China and the US on many issues including Taiwan, South China Sea, semiconductor chip exports. Both countries have also been threatening war over Taiwan and the South China Sea. On Saturday itself, a US Navy warship encountered a Chinese warship in the South China Sea. During this, the collision between the two narrowly survived. When the US called it an unsafe practice, China said that its effort was deliberately provoking the risk. China also criticized America and Canada for this.