23 July 2020
China is likely to welcome a visit by US Defence Secretary Mark Esper as it may help to prevent the “cold war” raging between the two countries escalating into a hot war, analysts said. Speaking at an online security seminar, Esper said he hoped to make his first visit to China as defence minister “to enhance cooperation on areas of common interest, establish the systems necessary for crisis communications and reinforce our intentions to openly compete in the international system”. Beijing and Washington already have “crisis communications” channels for matters of defence and diplomacy, but these have largely fallen silent amid the rising tensions and the Covid-19 pandemic.
Collin Koh, a Research Fellow from the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies said Esper’s plan to visit China before the end of the year showed the two sides were aware that political tensions could escalate into military conflict. “There is an increased risk of military clashes between American and Chinese forces operating in regional hotspots like the South China Sea, and the general desire is to keep existing channels of confidence- and security-building measures open,” he said. “I suspect that before Esper made his comments, the defence establishments of the two countries might have spoken to each other about a possible visit.”
IDSS / Print
Last updated on 24/07/2020