Acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan and Chinese Defense Minister Wei Fenghe held talks Friday in Singapore, as the secretary worked to build the U.S.-China military relationship while reprimanding Chinese “bad behavior.”
The two spoke on the sidelines of the annual Shangri-La defense forum, as relations have been strained between the two countries by increased tensions over trade and security.
Speaking to reporters ahead of the meeting, Shanahan said he would point out China’s “excessive” militarization of man-made islands in the South China Sea during a major speech Saturday.
“This part [of the speech] might be viewed as spicy,” Shanahan said. “They argue that it’s defensive; it looks like it’s a bit overkill.”
The Chinese have placed several surface-to-air missiles and built long runways for military planes to land on the controversial outposts.
During the 20-minute meeting Friday, the two leaders discussed ways to “reduce the risk of misunderstanding and miscalculation,” according to Shanahan’s spokesman.
The two specifically talked about how they could better cooperate to enforce U.N. Security Council Resolutions related to sanctions on North Korea, an area where Shanahan said the Chinese have been helpful.
This is the first time since 2011 that a Chinese defense minister has attended the conference.