Newly-elected Chinese Defense Minister Gen. Li Shangfu takes his oath during a session of China’s National People’s Congress (NPC) at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing on March 12, 2023.InternationalIndiaAfricaOleg BurunovThe US and China remain at loggerheads over a slew of hot-button issues related to Taiwan and sanctions against the Chinese tech giant Huawei. Beijing has warned that there is “little chance of a meeting” between the defense ministers of China and the US at an upcoming security forum in Singapore due to a spat over sanctions, a UK newspaper has reported, citing unnamed sources.
The sources claimed that arranging Pentagon chief Lloyd Austin’s talks with his Chinese counterpart Li Shangfu at the Shangri-La Dialogue security forum in Singapore scheduled for June “is fraught with difficulty.”
According to the insiders, Li, who became defense minister in March, was placed under US sanctions over Chinese imports of Russian arms in 2018, when he was serving as a general.The sources added that even though Washington assured Beijing that the sanctions do not prevent Austin from meeting Li in a third country, “it would be almost impossible” for China to agree to the two defense chiefs’ meeting while the restrictive measures remain in place.One source also argued that there was no prospect of the Biden administration scrapping the sanctions against Li in the foreseeable future.The claims come amid the two countries’ efforts to arrange visits by highly-placed US officials to Beijing, something that was tarnished by a Chinese balloon flying over North America in early February.WorldUS Restates It’s Locked in Global Struggle With China as Beijing Urges ‘Recalibration’ of Relations30 December 2022, 17:52 GMTIn a separate development, the two are negotiating a visit to China by Secretary of State Antony Blinken, with Beijing reportedly reluctant to receive the top US diplomat due to concerns that the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) might release a report into the Chinese balloon.This unfolds against the background of ongoing tensions between Beijing and Washington. The two nations remain at odds over a number of sticking issues regarding Taiwan and the US banning the import of telecommunications equipment made by Huawei, ZTE, and other Chinese tech giants.