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Xiangshan Forum and Chinese Military Diplomacy

The 6th Xiangshan Forum was held in Beijing on October 17-18, 2015. With close to 500 participants this year - including defense personnel and security experts and scholars from 49 countries and 5 international organizations - the forum was a platform for Chinese security experts and the People's Liberation Army (PLA) to articulate their views on the regional and global security environment, and to demonstrate the close defense networks China has built across several continents. The participants’ roster was a veritable who's who of Chinese security analysts from think tanks and academe. Beginning as a twice-yearly event in 2006, the Forum has now become an annual gathering and has been upgraded by its organizers from Track 2 (unofficial) to Track 1.5 (semi-official) in nature. This year, APPFI president and University of the Philippine Professor Aileen Baviera, along with another UP professor Dr. Aries Arugay, were the only nongovernmental participants from the Philippines. A delegation from the Department of Defense was led by Undersecretary Pio Lorenzo F. Batino.

The forum’s organizers are the China Association of Military Science (CAMS) and the China Institute of International Strategic Studies (CIISS). Dr. Baviera recalls first visiting the CIISS in 1996 during her stint as a research fellow at the Japan Institute for International Affairs, when she traveled to Beijing to interview some CIISS leaders for a study on ASEAN-China security relations. In July this year, she met with CAMS-affiliated China Academy of Military Science staff as part of exchanges between the University of the Philippines and think tanks in Beijing and Nanjing.

At this year's Xiangshan Forum, aside from the keynote address by Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen, and speeches by several defense ministers (including Malaysia, Singapore, Mongolia), presentations were dominated by talk of China’s new strategic initiatives in Asia, references to maritime disputes,  the need for crisis management and reducing strategic mistrust, and building a new Asia Pacific security architecture. There were also the expected doses of criticism of the United States coming from participants from China, Russia, and Iran, among others.

On ASEAN, Vice Chairman of the Central Military Commission Fan Changlong pledged to “endeavor to improve the China-ASEAN defense and security exchange and cooperation mechanisms through consultation, explore the possibility of establishing direct telephone links, send liaison officers for security cooperation to the Chinese mission to ASEAN, and enhance multilateral defense consultation and coordination."

This brief closing remarks by Amb. Wu Jianmin, member of the Foreign Policy Advisory Group , gives a useful glimpse into the message that China tried to put across at the 6th Xiangshan Forum.
http://www.xiangshanforum.cn/article/viewandupdates/201510/1282.html

This editorial by Global Times about the Forum may also be of interest: http://www.globaltimes.cn/content/947802.shtml

The Xiangshan Forum was preceded a day earlier by the Informal China-ASEAN Defense Ministers Meeting and took place at a time when the U.S. had been publicly and repeatedly conveying its intentions to engage in “freedom of navigation” operations in the South China Sea, near the reefs where China was feared to be constructing military facilities.

 

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Chinese Defence Minister Chang Wanquan (4th right) claps next to his counterparts from Asean during the China-AseanDefense Ministers' Informal Meeting in Beijing, China, October 16, 2015. — PHOTO: REUTERS See more at: http://www.themalaymailonline.com/world/article/beijing-holds-xiangshan-defence-forum-as-tension-festers-over-south-china-s#sthash.7sTwZlAS.dpuf