Asia security summit kicks off amid US-China tensions

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SINGAPORE (Reuters) – Heightened competition between the United States and China is expected to dominate the Asia security summit, which opened in Singapore on Friday and is scheduled for speeches by senior officials and behind-the-scenes military and diplomatic dealings.

The Shangri-La Dialogue conference, which attracts high-level military officials, diplomats and arms manufacturers from around the world, will notably host US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin and China’s new Defense Minister Li Shangfu.

The state of relations between the United States and China has deteriorated significantly as the two superpowers remain deeply divided on several issues, ranging from Taiwan sovereignty to cyber espionage to territorial disputes in the South China Sea. .

Hopes that the Singapore summit would provide an opportunity to renew ties between Washington and Beijing were dashed last week when Li Shangfu declined an invitation to meet his American counterpart.

Li Shangfu, appointed Chinese defense minister last March, was sanctioned by the United States in 2018 for buying weapons from Russia.

During a session on cybersecurity on the sidelines of the summit, a brief Sino-American dialogue was nevertheless opened.

Asked by Zhu Qichao, director of the Center for National Security and Strategic Studies at Beijing National University of Defense Technology about collaborating on cybersecurity risks associated with artificial intelligence, Director of U.S. National Intelligence, Avril Haines said “we should talk to China”.

(Reporting Joe Brock, Greg Torode, Kanupriya Kapoor, Xinghui Kok, Chen Lin and Raju Gopalakrishnan; with contributions from Kirsty Needham; French version Gaëlle Sheehan, editing by Blandine Hénault)


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