Rival South China Sea visions in spotlight as Washington, Beijing front Shangri-La Dialogue

The Chinese Type 52D guided missile destroyer Guiyang CNN | James Alexander Michie

The Chinese Type 52D guided missile destroyer Guiyang participates in a naval parade on April 23, 2019.

There is no doubt that the tension continues to increase amid a growing trade war between China and the United States. However, it has been said that attention is about to become a familiar scenario: The South China Sea. And after years of clashes and attacks in the disputed region, US Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan is expected to present Saturday the new Indo-Pacific Pentagon strategy at the Shangri-La Dialogue in Singapore.

Now, intriguingly, only a day later, Chinese Defense Minister General Wei Fenghe will speak about Beijing’s role in the Indo-Pacific, the highest ranking Chinese official to appear in Asia’s main defense conference in eight years. There is no doubt that his presence is really significant. In this way, Beijing claims almost all of the South China Sea of 1.3 million square miles as its sovereign territory and likewise aggressively affirms its participation, with President Xi Jinping saying he will never abandon “any inch of territory”.

Clash of different political visions

It should be noted that, for their part, US military officials have promised to continue enforcing a free and open Indo-Pacific.

In this way, William Choong, who is a leading member of the Shangri-La Dialogue, said in a tweet on Tuesday that Wei and Shanahan’s presence would establish “a clash of two visions — the US / Japan-led ‘free and open’ Indo-Pacific and China’s ‘Asia for Asians.’ “

Likewise, the intentions of the United States for the region have already been strongly telegraphed. And is that the Pentagon has increased the operations of freedom of navigation until weekly. And the US Air Force commander of the United States said earlier this month that Air Force aircraft flew around the South China Sea almost daily. Similarly, Washington has also sent warships across the Taiwan Strait that separates China from what it calls its renegade province several times this year.

We must not leave aside the fact that not only the United States is active in the region. Since in fact, your allies and partners are also involved.

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Source: Brad Lendon | CNN

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