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Great powers talk past each other during a meeting in Singapore

This year marks the 21st anniversary of the Shangri-La Dialogue in Singapore. The annual dialogue is intended to be a premiere venue for defense and security officials and experts from around the world. They collect and share their thoughts on the state of the world security situation from their country’s point of view.

This year’s iteration was more like Shangri-La’s “monologues.”

What stood out is threefold. First, Chinese Defense Minister Admiral Dong Jun and US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin did not engage in meaningful dialogue, but rather spoke past each other. In a fiery speech full of threats and historical inaccuracies, Dong made strong statements such as: “Anyone who dares to separate Taiwan from China will only end in self-destruction.” Despite his aggressive rhetoric, Dong emphasized what he said was China’s peaceful history. He stated that his country prefers compromise, peaceful coexistence and dialogue over the use of military force to resolve conflicts.

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