US defence secretary holds talks with Chinese counterpart on regional diplomatic tour

US defence secretary holds talks with Chinese counterpart on regional diplomatic tour

Acting US Defence Secretary Patrick Shanahan will begin a diplomatic tour of the Indo-Pacific region today, with visits to Singapore,

download 3 1

Photo: Reuters

Acting US Defence Secretary Patrick Shanahan will begin a diplomatic tour of the Indo-Pacific region today, with visits to Singapore, Indonesia, South Korea and Japan over the coming week.

The trip is part of US efforts to bolster and reaffirm defence ties with key allies as trade tensions between Washington and Beijing continue to cause regional uncertainty. A key part of Mr Shanahan’s trip will be an appearance at the Shangri-La Dialogue in Singapore, where he is scheduled to meet Chinese counterpart Wei Fenghe.

The meeting will be the first time since 2011 that China has sent its defence minister to the Dialogue, underscoring Beijing’s rising political and defence ambitions in the region. The two are expected to discuss issues surrounding Taiwan. Increasingly assertive Chinese posturing in the Strait of Taiwan has led to Washington conducting a number of freedom of navigation exercises in recent months.

US and Taiwanese national security officials held their first talks in over 40 years this week, further roiling Beijing amid tensions over the US-China trade war. While US and Chinese trade negotiators are expected to reach an agreement on trade in the medium-term, security tensions, especially over Taiwan, are expected to remain a long-term unresolved issue.

Wake up smarter with an assessment of the stories that will make headlines in the next 24 hours. Download The Daily Brief.