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China's No.2 military leader vows to develop military ties with US at forum

Beijing: China’s second-ranked military official, speaking at a military forum on Monday, vowed to develop military ties with the United States while accusing “some countries” of “creating turbulence” and trying to undermine Communist Party rule.

The Beijing Xiangshan Forum, China’s biggest annual show of military diplomacy, began Sunday without the country’s defence minister, who typically hosts the event.

“We will deepen strategic cooperation and coordination with Russia, and on the basis of mutual respect, peaceful coexistence and win-win cooperation, develop military ties with the US,” Zhang Youxia, vice chairman of the Central Military Commission, said during a keynote address at the forum. China’s defence minister has delivered that speech in previous years.

China and the US have had no direct military-to-military communications since the Washington-sanctioned former Chinese defence minister, Li Shangfu, was appointed in March.

Li was sacked last week without explanation, and China did not name a replacement. Reuters reported last month that Li, who has been missing for two months, was being investigated overcorruption.

“Some countries deliberately create turbulence and interfere in other countries’ internal affairs, and instigate colour revolutions,” Zhang said, in a veiled attack at Western countries including the United States, which is increasingly coordinating with allies to curtail Beijing’s military ambitions.

A colour revolution is a term the Chinese government uses to describe attempts to overthrow Communist Party rule.

Zhang also accused “some countries” of holding on to a zero-sum game mentality and engaging in clique politics.

“Countries should not deliberately provoke other countries on major and sensitive issues such as Taiwan,” he said, adding that Taiwan is China’s core interests, in comments directed at the United States.

The U.S. defence department has sent a delegation led by Cynthia Xanthi Carras, China country director in the Office of the Undersecretary of Defense.

Many Western countries have either shunned the forum or are only sending small and low-level delegations, preferring instead to discuss international security issues at the Shangri-La Dialogue held annually in Singapore.

(Published 30 October 2023, 03:18 IST)

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