Singapore (People’s Daily) – China’s Defense Minister Wei Fenghe has arrived in Singapore for the 18th Shangri-La Dialogue security forum.
This is the first time since 2011 that a Chinese defense minister will be at the forum.
Hosted by independent think tank the International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS), the forum will be held from May 31 to June 2.
General Wei, who is leading the People's Liberation Army delegation to this year's dialogue, will speak about international security cooperation on Sunday, June 2.
He is also scheduled to meet with heads of delegations from several other countries including the US, Britain and Korea to exchange views on a wide range of topics.
This will be just the second time that a Chinese defense minister has attended the forum. The last time was in 2011, on the 10th anniversary of the dialogue, when China's then Defense Minister Liang Guanglie attended the meet.
"China's heavyweight military delegation is comprised not only of experts in international military cooperation and defense relations but also includes two very senior officers with leadership experience in China's southern theatre command, the military region encompassing the South China Sea," said Alexander Neill, Shangri-La Dialogue senior fellow for Asia-Pacific Security.
According to The Straits Times of Singapore, China's high-level participation signals its intent to use significant opportunities to clarify or defend its position.
The presence of China's Defense Minister Wei Fenghe in Singapore for an upcoming high-level security forum is reassuring amid the trade tensions between the United States and China, Singapore Defense Minister Ng Eng Hen said on Wednesday.
“It shows a confident China willing to engage with the region and the world,” Ng Eng Hen said.
Dr Li Mingjiang, Associate Professor and coordinator of the China program at the Institute of Defense Studies and Strategic Studies, Singapore, said that Wei's visit for the dialogue has to do with the strategic rivalry between China and the US.
A statement from the Singapore Ministry of Defense on Thursday said that Shangri-La Dialogue 2019 will see 33 ministerial-level delegates and more than 30 chiefs of defense forces and senior defense officials, as well as prominent academics from 47 countries.