China and Russia Target the United States at Chinese Military Forum

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Chinese and Russia military leaders used the stage of the Xiangshan Forum in Beijing to criticize the United States, even as China’s second most senior military commander expressed a commitment to strengthening defense ties with Washington. 

This comes when concerns are rising due to the lack of regular communication between the US and Chinese militaries, especially given the escalating tensions over various issues in the South China Sea and near Taiwan.

The Xiangshan Forum, China’s premier annual military diplomacy event, commenced without a Chinese defense minister, who usually hosts the event, but with the inclusion of a US delegation.

Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu used the platform to issue a stark warning to the West about its involvement in the Ukraine conflict. 

He highlighted the potential for a direct military confrontation between nuclear powers, emphasizing the “catastrophic consequences” such a scenario could bring. 

Shoigu also accused the West of attempting to inflict a “strategic defeat” on Russia through a “hybrid war” strategy while praising the exemplary relationship between Russia and China.

Zhang Youxia, vice chairman of China’s Central Military Commission, offered veiled criticism of the United States and its allies, accusing “some countries” of undermining China’s government. 

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Chinese and Russian military leaders used the stage of the Xiangshan Forum in Beijing to criticize the United States, even as China’s second most senior military commander expressed a commitment to strengthening defense ties with Washington.

However, Zhang also stressed the need for improving military ties with the United States, emphasizing the principles of mutual respect, peaceful coexistence, and win-win cooperation.

The absence of China’s defense minister, Li Shangfu, who was recently dismissed without explanation, is noteworthy. 

Reports suggest he is under investigation for corruption, and his departure has disrupted the continuity of the forum.

Despite the tensions, a US delegation led by Cynthia Xanthi Carras, China’s country director in the Office of the Undersecretary of Defense, attended the forum. 

Chad Spragia, a former US deputy assistant secretary of defense for China, emphasized the importance of US participation, signaling a commitment to maintaining open lines of communication.

The participation of the US delegation coincides with increased exchanges between the United States and China in anticipation of an upcoming summit between Presidents Joe Biden and Xi Jinping. 

While efforts to improve China-US military relations are evident, the forum’s discussions have also shown a firm stance on sensitive issues such as Taiwan, which Beijing regards as a core interest.

The Xiangshan Forum continues to serve as a platform for dialogue and negotiation, even amid criticism and tensions. 

Open communication and diplomacy remain essential to prevent unintentional escalations and conflicts in a rapidly changing global security landscape.

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