Chinese Defense Minister, Li Shangfu, over the weekend, told the Shangri-La Dialogue security summit that future conflicts between China and the U.S. would be an "unbearable disaster for the world."
Li added to his statement that both countries should be able to grow and still avoid confrontation. The minister's remarks came as Washington condemned what it deemed to be aggressive and unsafe maneuvers by a Chinese PLA Navy warship on Saturday in the Taiwan Strait as the American destroyer USS Chung-Hoon made a 'freedom of navigation' transit on Saturday in conjunction with the Canadian military.
It is undeniable that a severe conflict or confrontation between China and the U.S. would be an unbearable disaster for the world," Li said.
Despite his calls for the two countries to work together, Li refused to participate in a bilateral meeting with his U.S. counterpart, Lloyd Austin, however, the two exchanged a cordial handshake, according to ZeroHedge.
Li, who became Defense Minister in March, added that China "believes that a big power should behave like one, instead of provoking bloc confrontation for self-interest."
He also encouraged the U.S. to "take concrete action" to get on common ground with China and to reverse the disintegrating relationship between the two world powers that have been rapidly spiraling out of control since Washington shot down a Chinese 'spy balloon' in early February. A move that Beijing saw as inappropriate.
While not calling the U.S. out directly, Li also said during the summit that "some country" exercises "exceptionalism and double standards and only serves the interests and follows the rules of a small number of countries."
Li emphasized that Beijing remains "strongly opposed to imposing one's own will on others, placing one's own interests above those of others and pursuing one's own security at the expense of others."
The Defense Minister's words come as the U.S. and China continue to exchange strong words regarding the 'close-call' on Saturday that forced the USS Chung-Hoon to engage in evasive maneuvers to avoid colliding with the Chinese warship after it crossed the destroyer's path 150 yards off its bow.
In March, when Li took his post, he told the Chinese military that "we must prevent attempts that try to use those freedom of navigation (patrols), that innocent passage, to exercise hegemony of navigation."
Li also remains under U.S. sanctions, which has hindered talks between Washington and Beijing. China has demanded that direct military talks cannot begin until the Biden administration removes the sanctions.