Shangri-La Latest: PLA General Accuses US of Creating Asian NATO

Shangri-La Latest: PLA General Accuses US of Creating Asian NATO

A general from China People’s Liberation Army slammed the US for trying to create “an Asia-Pacific version of NATO” to maintain American-led hegemony.

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(Bloomberg) — A general from China People’s Liberation Army slammed the US for trying to create “an Asia-Pacific version of NATO” to maintain American-led hegemony. 

Lieutenant General Jing Jianfeng was responding to Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin who spoke at the Shangri-La Dialogue about Washington’s actions in the region, including forging partnerships, which are designed to stem Beijing’s military assertiveness. 

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Senior defense officials from around the world have gathered at the security forum to discuss a host of fractious issues including Taiwan as well as China’s relationship with Russia. The three-day Shangri-La Dialogue kicked off Friday and continues through Sunday afternoon.

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(All times local)

Chinese General Accuses US of Building Asian Version of NATO (12:15 p.m.)

The “true motive” of the US is to create an Asia-Pacific version of NATO to maintain American-led hegemony in the region, according to Chinese Lieutenant General Jing Jianfeng 

The US Indo-Pacific strategy is a political rhetoric that sounds good but does no good, Jing said at a briefing in Singapore. He was responding to Pentagon chief Austin’s speech that touched on the partnerships Washington is strengthening in the region as a hedge against Beijing.

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Jing accused America of arming Taiwan for independence, and slammed US for breaking its promise on Taiwan and hollowing out the One China policy.

Australia Says Israel Needs to Comply with ICJ Orders (12 noon)

Israel must comply with the binding orders of the International Court of Justice, including to enable the provision of basic services and humanitarian assistance, according to Australia Deputy Prime Minister Richard Marles. 

“Australia’s position must not be taken as any kind of acceptance of the moral equivalence between Israel and Hamas,” Marles said in a speech. “Clearly there is not. Israel as a democratic state, Hamas is a terrorist organization.”

Australia Has “Security Anxieties’ With China, Deputy PM Says (11:58 a.m.)

Australia has “security anxieties” in its relationship with China even as trade ties have stabilized, Marles said, as he called on Beijing to uphold the global rules-based order. 

“There’s no point in denying the fact that they exist, which is why we talk about cooperating with China where we can, and disagreeing where we must,” he said earlier in an interview with Bloomberg Television’s Haslinda Amin. 

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Austin Reassured Allies on Ukraine Aid in Estonia Meeting (11:45 a.m.)

Estonian Defense Minister Hanno Pevkur said Austin sought to reassure European allies that the US is committed to the timely delivery of billions in aid for Ukraine after months of delays forced Kyiv to ration munitions and lose ground to Russia.

In an interview, Pevkur said he raised the matter with Austin during a meeting, adding that he didn’t see any reason for further delay. “The $60 billion package is a big package, and it has to be delivered as soon as possible to Ukraine,” he said.

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Pevkur also said that Estonia’s defense budget would likely grow to 3.4% of GDP by the end of the year from an initial 3.2%, though “the economy is not growing so fast as we were hoping.”

Canada’s Blair Aims to Meet NATO Defense Spending Target by 2030 (11:30 a.m.)

Canadian Defense Minister Bill Blair said the country is “absolutely committed” to reaching the NATO military spending target of 2% of GDP as it faces mounting pressure from allies.

“My own personal target is to have that done within the next five years, by 2030, that we will reach that threshold,” Blair said in a Bloomberg Television with Haslinda Amin on Saturday.

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“We just released our defense policy update,” Blair added. “We are making very significant new investments in defense.”

South Korea Says Russia Is Aiding North’s Satellite Tech (11:01 a.m.)

Russia is aiding the development of North Korea’s satellite technology as part of the arms and resource trade, according to South Korea Defense Minister Shin Wonsik.

“North Korea exported missiles and artillery and, in return, they received oil, food and military technology,” Shin told the forum. “Particularly for military reconnaissance-related satellite technologies.”

The US and South Korea are putting measures to counter this as North Korea’s capabilities can be significantly improved if these exchanges continue, Shin said.  

South Korea Slams North Korea’s Arms Trade with Russia (10:20 a.m.)

Shin earlier condemned Russia’s expanding arms cooperation with North Korea, saying those ties threaten world peace and aid Kim Jong Un’s nuclear “obsessions.”

Read more: Russia Is Using North Korean Missiles in Ukraine, US Agency Says

The defense minister also used the regional forum to criticize North Korea’s launching of balloons carrying trash earlier this week to South Korea. 

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Austin Disagrees With Academic on NATO Triggering War in Ukraine (9:35 a.m.)

Pentagon Chief Austin disagreed with a Chinese military academic who said the expansion of NATO triggered the war in Ukraine, saying the blame lies with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

“He assumed he could very quickly roll over his neighbor and annex the country,” Austin said in a Q&A session after his speech. “That was two-plus years ago. He has not achieved any of his strategic objectives.”

Austin said countries in Asia with similar values and a common vision were coming together. He was responding to a Cao Yanzhong, a research fellow at the Academy of Military Sciences, who asked if the US was building a NATO-like alliance in Asia-Pacific. 

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US Doubtful Aukus-Like Deal Can be Done With South Korea (9:13 a.m.)

Austin said it was “highly doubtful” that the US can take on another Aukus-like initiative with South Korea, when asked during a Q&A session whether Washington would consider extending the deal. 

Aukus is a defense pact between Australia, the UK and the US that is aimed at pushing back against China’s assertiveness in Asia. Under the first pillar of the Aukus pact, the UK and US will work with Australia to help Canberra field a fleet of nuclear-powered submarines by the 2030s.

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However, it is the strategic research partnerships under Pillar II of Aukus that interests regional partners including Seoul.

Austin Hails Better US-China Ties, Sees Need for Deterrence (9:05 a.m.)

Austin hailed improved military-to-military communication between the two nations but also saw the need for deterrence against Beijing. 

He told a regional defense forum the Indo-Pacific would continue to be America’s “priority theater of operations” despite Washington’s recent preoccupation with conflicts in Europe and the Middle East. Austin also emphasized that a string of actions aimed at bolstering regional deterrence against Beijing would continue. 

Marcos Swipes at Beijing Over South China Sea (9:15 p.m. Friday) 

Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. asserted his nation’s claims in the disputed South China Sea while taking pointed swipes at Beijing during a speech at the forum — as China’s new defense minister sat in the audience.

With the Philippines and China locked in a standoff over disputed islands and reefs, Marcos used his keynote speech late Friday to call out “assertive actions that aim to propagate excessive and baseless claims through force, intimidation, and deception.”

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Zelenskiy Heads to Singapore to Promote His Summit (6:00 p.m.)

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy is set to attend the Shangri-La Dialogue, where he will urge Asian leaders to attend a summit in Switzerland to discuss his country’s peace blueprint. 

Zelenskiy is expected to deliver a speech on Sunday. He wants to secure support among foreign leaders, including so-called Global South countries, for the summit that will be hosted by Switzerland next month. President Joe Biden is not slated to be there, while China has signaled it won’t be attending. 

Read more: Zelenskiy Implores Biden, Xi to Attend Summit as Russia Ramps Up

—With assistance from Harry Suhartono and Sam Kim.

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