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CUSEF Express - June 13, 2022

2022-06-13
Daily highlights of developments that affect China and the U.S.
Daily highlights of developments that affect China and the U.S.

Taiwan tensions flare at Shangri-La Dialogue

  • Chinese Defense Minister Wei Fenghe on Sunday reaffirmed Beijing’s determination to reunify with Taiwan. China “will not hesitate to fight, will fight at all costs and will fight to the very end” (不惜一战,不惜代价,一定会打到底) if anyone wants to secede Taiwan from China, the General said (Ch/En). Wei made the remarks (readout: Ch/En) at the 19th IISS Shangri-La Dialogue, a day after U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin accused China of being “more coercive and aggressive” in territorial claims.
  • On Friday, Wei and Austin met (readouts by China/U.S.) on the sidelines of the multilateral event to discuss global security issues. Taiwan was also at the center of the discussion. Both defense chiefs underlined the importance of peace across the strait but are aggressive when responding to potential violations of their governments’ wishes, which are maintaining the status quo for Washington and moving towards reunification for Beijing.
  • The South China Sea was another focus of their disputes. While Austin implied Indo-Pacific countries were facing “political intimidation, economic coercion, or harassment” from China, Wei criticized the U.S. for “bullying others under the guise of multilateralism” (以多边主义之名,行单边霸凌之实).

U.S. wary of China’s support on Cambodian navy base

  • The U.S. got anxious as China started to help Cambodia construct a naval facility in the northern part of the Ream Naval Base, which is located on the Gulf of Thailand. However, both Beijing and Phnom Penh denied that the People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) of China would have “exclusive” access to the facility, as Cambodia’s constitution prohibits foreign military bases in the country.
  • There is skepticism that the new military presence in Cambodia, a weaker maritime power in Southeast Asia, could enhance China’s access to the South China Sea. Some compare the facility to the PLA’s support base in Djibouti. Nevertheless, the nature of the two navy facilities would be quite different even if the PLA was allowed to use the Ream Naval Base, given the limitation stipulated in the Cambodian constitution.

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