Japan, China agree on effective operation of military hotline, dialogue

The defense ministers of Japan and China agreed Saturday to ensure the effective operation of a hotline established between their respective militaries, aiming to prevent friction and conflict.

The meeting between Japanese Defense Minister Yasukazu Hamada and Chinese Defense Minister Li Shangfu took place on the sidelines of the 20th IISS Shangri-La Dialogue 2023 in Singapore, an important security forum in the Asia-Pacific region.

During a news conference following the meeting, Hamada emphasized that Japan and China have various security concerns, particularly in the East China Sea. He stressed the importance of negotiations to establish constructive and stable relations between the two nations.

Li echoed that the relationship should not be solely defined by sovereignty issues in the East China Sea. He highlighted the importance of taking a long-term and comprehensive perspective when addressing such matters.

The defense ministers agreed to enhance dialogue by operating a military hotline between the two countries' defense departments. The move aims to facilitate timely communication and prevent any misunderstandings or escalations.

The defense ministers inaugurated the two countries’ military hotline for the sea and air liaison mechanism between the two countries’ defense departments last month.

In November, the two countries agreed during President Xi Jinping's meeting with Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida on the sidelines of the 29th Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Economic Leaders' Meeting in Bangkok to set up a direct military hotline to manage maritime and air issues.

Besides, addressing the session titled, Building a Stable and Balanced Asia-Pacific at the Shangri-La Dialogue, UK Secretary of State for Defense Ben Wallace highlighted the economic importance of the Indo-Pacific region.

He underscored that the region offers enormous economic opportunity, with UK's total exports to the area reaching a substantial 127 billion British pounds ($158 billion), an increase of 22% from the previous year.

Recognizing China's role as a significant actor in the region, he emphasized that addressing global challenges such as global warming, food security, and energy requires engagement with China.

But Wallace also expressed concerns regarding certain issues caused by China, including, sovereignty disputes, debt diplomacy, illegal fishing activities and tensions in territorial waters. The concerns underline the importance of maintaining stability and resolving disputes in the region.

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