Chinese defence chief to speak at Shangri-La Dialogue

China's defence minister will speak at an Asia defence forum in Singapore, the organiser has said, the first time in eight years that Beijing has been represented at this level at the gathering and at a time when China-US ties are strained over trade and security.

Defence Minister Wei Fenghe will deliver a speech on June 2 at the Shangri-La Dialogue, the first time since 2011 that a Chinese defence chief will be at the forum, having in recent years sent lower-level officials.

His speech will be scheduled a day after US Acting Secretary of Defence Patrick Shanahan speaks at the gathering, which takes place from May 31 to June 2.

Tensions between China and the US have intensified in the past year, both over an ongoing trade war and over the disputed South China Sea and US support for self-ruled Taiwan, which China claims as its own.

On Sunday, the US sent warships close to the disputed Scarborough Shoal claimed by China in the South China Sea, the latest in a series of "freedom of navigation operations" to anger Beijing.

REUTERS

Correction note: This article has been edited for clarity.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 22, 2019, with the headline 'Chinese defence chief to speak at Shangri-La Dialogue'. Print Edition | Subscribe