China’s defense minister vowed to strengthen military ties with a string of countries around the world, while excluding from that list the Asian nation’s biggest economic and geopolitical rival, the United States.
(Bloomberg) — China’s defense minister vowed to strengthen military ties with a string of countries around the world, while excluding from that list the Asian nation’s biggest economic and geopolitical rival, the United States.
“We’re willing to deepen military cooperation with neighbors including members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations,” Li Shangfu said at a security conference in Moscow on Tuesday, noting that Beijing also wants to elevate ties with Europe.
China would “further consolidate traditional friendships with African, Latin American, Caribbean and Southern Pacific nations,” he added, according to remarks broadcast on Russian state television.
President Xi Jinping suspended high-level military dialogue with the US after tensions between the two nuclear-powers frayed in the wake of then-US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan last year. China has since refused to allow Li to talk with his US counterpart, until the Biden administration lifts sanctions placed on him in 2018.
Last month, the Chinese general blamed “some people” in the US for that breakdown in ties, as he met former US Secretary of State Henry Kissinger in Beijing. Li took a veiled swipe at Washington during his Tuesday remarks, saying the “hegemonic practice” of interfering other countries’ internal affairs was increasingly being resisted globally.
The Chinese defense minister’s visit to Moscow is the latest signal that Xi’s commitment to President Vladimir Putin has not waned as his war in Ukraine drags on, despite a rare spat between Chinese nationals and officials at a Russian border checkpoint earlier this month.
Li called China’s military relationship with Russia a “model for cooperation” on Tuesday, saying their ties were characterized by “non-confrontation” and did “not target any third party.”
Russia and China held their seventh bilateral military exercises earlier this month, marking the two nations’ highest number of joint drills in the past two decades, according to data compiled by the US National Defense University and Bloomberg News.
Separately, China and the United Arab Emirates recently announced they would hold their first joint air force exercises in the coming weeks, as Beijing and Washington increasingly jostle for influence in the Middle East.
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