How Engaged Was China at the Shangri-La Dialogue?

It was in 2007 that the Shangri-La Dialogue came into its own, with China and the growing importance of the Indo-Pacific at the center of its discussion. While China didn’t send ministerial-level officials, Vice Minister and Lt. Gen. Zhang Qinsheng’s presence at the 2007 Dialogue suggested that Beijing viewed the forum as an opportunity to advance its public diplomacy and demonstrate China’s ability to be more transparent and inclusive about its operations in the South China Sea and beyond. Zhang’s speech, in which he declared that China’s “peaceful development is not a makeshift, but a serious choice and pledge of the Chinese government and people,” hinted at the same. China, seemingly, had become an active part of a Western multilateral defense forum, and by the tone of Zhang’s speech, was willing to engage constructively with it. However, the question today is how much this remains the case, especially when China is confronted with a mountain of criticism. Read More »

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