A meeting between China’s Defense Minister Wei Fenghe and U.S. Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin at the ASEAN meeting in Cambodia on November 22 was a testament to the Chinese military leaders’ engagement with their foreign counterparts through active military diplomacy. showed that
Xinhua News Agency published a brief report of the meeting, saying Wei Fenghe referred to an important consensus reached at the meeting on Wednesday between President Xi Jinping and US President Joe Biden.th Group of 20 Summit. “The United States is responsible for the current situation of China-US relations,” Wei added. According to Wei, China attaches great importance to the development of relations between the two countries and their militaries, but the precondition for this is that the US side “must respect China’s core interests.” Wei hopes the United States will “keep its words and promises, truly implement the agreements between the two leaders, and adopt reasonable and realistic policies toward China.” , Wei stressed that “the Taiwan issue is the core of China’s core interests and the first insurmountable red line in Sino-US relations.” “Taiwan is China’s Taiwan,” Wei said. Xinhua reported that the two sides agreed to maintain communication, strengthen crisis management and maintain security in the region.
The Pentagon’s announcement was a bit more detailed, emphasizing the need for both sides to “manage competition responsibly and maintain open communications.” In addition, Austin discussed substantive dialogue to reduce risk, improve crisis communication, and enhance operational safety, noting that “increasing risk of accidents by PLA aircraft in the Indo-Pacific region raised concerns about “dangerous behavior”. Austin added that the United States “will continue to fly, sail and operate as long as international law allows.” Interestingly, the reading said that both sides “oppose the use of nuclear weapons” in the conflict between Russia and Ukraine. Finally, Austin reiterated the US commitment to adopt “a longstanding One China Policy guided by the Taiwan Relations Act, three US-China joint communiques, and six guarantees.” He affirmed the importance of maintaining peace and stability in the Strait and opposed any move to change the status quo.
Wei’s military diplomacy has become a more active phenomenon since April 2022, perhaps more than before. On April 20, he had a telephone conversation with Austin, stressing the need for both sides to implement the president’s consensus: mutual respect, peaceful coexistence, and avoidance. The United States must stick to its one-China policy. The face-to-face talks in November can be seen as an extension of the telephone talks between the two sides that took place in April.
In April, Wei visited Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi and served as both a member of the Chinese State Council and defense minister. Both sides agreed to deepen military cooperation in the following contexts: global times April 28, “Increasingly hostile United States and turbulent world affairs.” Wei’s visit was described as China’s highest-ranking official visit to Iran after the two sides reached a 25-year comprehensive cooperation agreement. It is worth noting that Iran opposes interference in China, and that Iran supports the protection of China’s core interests. Anti-hegemonicism has been the common language used by both China and Iran in their official correspondence. Other areas of cooperation include counter-terrorism and Covid-19 countermeasures. The theme of counter-terrorism was repeated by Wei during his previous visits to Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan. Both are members of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization.
On April 25, Wei Fenghe met with Kazakhstan’s President Qasim Jomart Tokayev and stressed that the two sides would celebrate the 30th anniversary.th Both sides stressed the need to become permanent comprehensive strategic partners and maintain high-level cooperation in international politics. The two leaders pledged to strengthen military cooperation in conducting peacekeeping operations, joint exercises and personnel training. China opposes foreign countries planning a “color revolution” in Kazakhstan, adding that it supports Kazakhstan in safeguarding national security and social stability, according to a Chinese defense ministry report. This also shows the element of anti-hegemonicism. Wei also met with Kazakhstan’s Defense Minister Ruslan Jaksilikov on international and regional security issues, including the Russia-Ukraine conflict and the Afghanistan issue.
On April 27, Wei visited Turkmenistan President Serdar Berdimuhamedov to strengthen bilateral cooperation. Berdymuhamedov expressed his appreciation for the important relations between the two countries in terms of politics, trade, diplomacy, culture, humanitarian aid and people-to-people exchanges. China is one of Turkmenistan’s largest trading partners, with more than 1,400 Turkmenistani students currently studying in China. The president expressed his hope that the two militaries would strengthen cooperation in equipment technology and personnel training. According to the CTGN report, China supports Turkmenistan’s neutrality and its own development path while opposing external interference in its internal affairs. Wei also met with Defense Minister Begench Gunddiev and agreed on the need to strengthen military communications, training and counter-terrorism cooperation.
Wei Fenghe’s aggressive military diplomacy can be traced back to December 2021, when he relied on video conferencing to interact with his various country counterparts. On December 7, 2021, he delivered a speech at the 2021 UN Peacekeeping Ministerial Conference in Seoul, China upholds the authority and sanctity of the United Nations, supports multilateralism, and steadily deepens cooperation with the United Nations. said. He stressed that China has contributed more than 50,000 peacekeepers to UN peacekeeping operations, making it the second largest financial contributor to the UN and UN peacekeeping operations.
On December 27, 2021, Mr. Wei held a two-hour video conference with Mr. Nobuo Kishi, a Japanese national. The two ministers exchanged views on various issues, including the East China Sea, the Senkaku Islands, the Taiwan issue, tensions over the South China Sea and the importance of military conflict, according to Defense Ministry information. Japan’s defense ministry said it opposes any move to change the status quo.
In response to Japan’s concerns, General Wei stressed that China would resolutely defend its territorial sovereignty and maritime rights and interests, according to reports from the Chinese side. Foreign Minister Wei called on both sides to maintain stability in the East China Sea, appealed to Japan to learn from history, and stressed the need to strengthen high-level exchanges and cooperation between the two sides, including the need to expand the scope of maritime affairs. confirmed. An air communication mechanism to jointly manage risks and prevent dispute escalation. Wei reiterated China’s position on the Taiwan issue and the South China Sea issue.
The most significant outcome of the videoconference was the approval by both sides to set up a hotline to deal with maritime and air communications by the end of 2022. This is a breakthrough to minimize the risk of sudden and accidental military conflicts.
In November 2021, Mr. Wei also had a video discussion with his Indonesian counterpart Mr. Prabowo Subianto. Both sides pledged to oppose hegemonic and Cold War thinking and reached an agreement on the need to safeguard peace and stability in the Asia-Pacific region. The two sides have also worked together to combat Covid-19 and strengthen military cooperation through joint military training and personnel training.
In conclusion, Wei’s hardline military diplomacy had several salient features. During his Covid-19 continuation until the end of last year, he relied on video conferencing to enhance dialogue and communication with his counterparts in different countries. Japan has seen a breakthrough in setting up hotlines for managing aviation and maritime matters. From April 2022 to his November 2022, Mr. Wei personally visited various countries and had direct contact with the presidents of various countries in his two capacities as State Councilor and Minister of Defense. His April visits to Turkmenistan and Kazakhstan were significant, and the themes of anti-hegemonism, multilateralism and opposition to outside interference became the hallmarks of China’s aggressive military diplomacy. In a sense, the Chinese defense minister tried to do united front work in the countries he visited, to deepen mutual understanding and strengthen ties against hegemonism. The recent meeting between Wei and Austin was significant and was an immediate follow-up meeting to pursue the consensus reached by President Xi Jinping and President Biden. Although both sides officially reiterated their positions at the talks, their determination to adopt the principle of building trust, enhancing communication and agreeing to disagreements is undoubtedly positive in the development of Sino-US military relations. It is a significant step forward.