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No dialogue between US, China defense chiefs in Singapore



A major regional security forum is underway in Singapore amid rising tensions in the South China Sea and East Asia, with in-person communication between defense chiefs from China and the United States remaining shuttered.

U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin had invited his Chinese counterpart, General Li Shangfu, to a bilateral meeting on the sidelines of the Shangri-La Dialogue in Singapore but the Chinese minister declined.

China’s decision is “unfortunate,” Austin said before arriving in the city state which has been hosting the annual event since 2002.

“You’ve heard me talk a number of times about the importance of countries with large, with significant capabilities, being able to talk to each other so you can manage crises and prevent things from spiralling out of control unnecessarily,” the U.S. defense secretary was quoted by news agencies as saying in Tokyo on Thursday.

“I would welcome any opportunity to engage with Li,” Austin said. “I think defense departments should be talking to each other on a routine basis or should have open channels for communications.”

Chinese Defense Minister Gen. Li Shangfu (center) inspects the honor guard with Singapore Defense Minister Ng Eng Hen (right) during his official visit to the defense ministry in Singapore, June 1, 2023. Credit: AP

For its part, China said that “dialogue cannot be without principles, and communication cannot be without a bottom line.”

Chinese Ministry of Defense spokesperson Tan Kefei said on Wednesday that the “current difficulties in the exchanges between the two militaries are entirely on the U.S. side.”

“On the one hand, the U.S. keeps saying that it wants to strengthen communication, but on the other hand, it ignores China’s concerns and artificially creates obstacles, seriously undermining the mutual trust between the two militaries,” Tan said.

The spokesperson did not elaborate on the obstacles but the U.S. Indo Pacific Command on Tuesday accused a Chinese J-16 fighter jet of performing an “unnecessarily aggressive” maneuver during the intercept of a U.S. Air Force RC-135 reconnaissance aircraft last week.

Beijing responded by calling it a hyped-up accusation, saying the U.S. spy plane “made an intrusion” into the Chinese army’s training zone in the South China Sea and its “aerial forces … professionally dealt with the situation in accordance with law and regulation.”

The Chinese defense minister, who took office in March, has been on the U.S. sanction list since 2018 for the purchase of SU-35 combat aircrafts and S-400 missile system-related equipment from Russia.

This could be another obstacle for an official meeting between Gen. Li and Secretary Austin.

Focal points

In 2019 the then-Minister of National Defense Wei Fenghe had his first in-person meeting with his U.S. counterpart Patrick Shanahan. 

Wei also met with Lloyd Austin on the sidelines of Shangri-La Dialogue in 2022 when the forum returned after a couple years of disruption because of COVID-19.

Analysts say the absence of a U.S.-China bilateral meeting reflects the difficulties in the military-to-military relations between the two powers.

Yet “the U.S.-China competition is a focal point of the Shangri-La Dialogue, since it shapes so much of the dynamics in the region and beyond,” said Ian Chong, an associate professor of political science at the National University of Singapore (NUS).

The Global Times, a sister publication of the Chinese Communist Party’s mouthpiece People’s Daily, in an editorial on Thursday said that the ball is in the U.S. court. 

“Frankly speaking, the outcome and effectiveness of the Shangri-La Dialogue largely depend on how the U.S. behaves during the conference,” it warned, accusing the U.S. of always trying “to take center stage and set the tone” for the forum.

There are still hopes that, despite the rhetoric, the two delegations from the United States and China would meet “unofficially under a low-key format”, said Hoang Thi Ha, Co-ordinator for the Regional Strategic and Political Studies Program at the ISEAS – Yusof Ishak Institute in Singapore.

Southeast Asian countries “are keen to see whether the U.S. and China would renew their communication especially via the military and defense channel,” Ha told RFA.

“It is in everybody’s interest that Washington and Beijing tone down their hostile posturing towards each other,” the analyst said.

Lloyd Austin (1).JPG
U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin speaks at the First Plenary Session of the 19th Shangri-La Dialogue in Singapore June 11, 2022. Credit: Reuters/Caroline Chia

Li Shangfu and Lloyd Austin, separately, plan to make speeches at the forum. Li will speak of China’s new security initiatives and Austin on the U.S. leadership in the Indo-Pacific. 

During the three days of the Shangri-La Dialogue, 600 delegates from 49 countries will examine the complex security environment in the Asia-Pacific and the war in Ukraine. 

“Other topics of discussion are the situation in Myanmar and the war in Ukraine, especially when it comes to the issue of food security,” NUS’s Ian Chong told RFA.

In his opinion, the rising tension in the Taiwan Strait will also be discussed, as “any Taiwan crisis will affect the region quite directly because of supply chains, shipping lanes, air lanes, and submarine cables going to Northeast Asia.”

“The problem, however, is that Taiwan has only a token quasi-official presence at the forum,” the analyst said, noting that China, which considers Taiwan one of its provinces, would resolutely object to any official Taiwan attendance.

“More exposure to Taiwanese experts in the Shangri-La Dialogue certainly could provide deeper insights into the situations across Taiwan Strait,” said Norah Huang, research fellow from Taiwanese think tank Prospect Foundation.

The think tank’s president, Lai I-chung, is attending the forum as a guest of the organizer, the International Institute for Strategic Studies.

The Shangri-La Dialogue, in its 20 years, is “a unique meeting where ministers debate the region’s most pressing security challenges, engage in important bilateral talks and come up with fresh approaches together,” according to IISS.

Speakers at this year’s event include the ministers of defense from Germany, Australia, the U.K., Canada, Sweden, Japan, South Korea, Singapore, the Philippines, Indonesia and Cambodia.

Two key Southeast Asian players – Malaysia and Vietnam – are keeping…

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A Timeline of EU-China Relations Post-2024 European Elections



EU-China relations are crucial in global business, with geopolitical shifts and technological competition shaping the dynamic. The recent EU Parliament elections have brought a political realignment, leading to a more assertive stance towards China. Strategic discussions and new working groups aim to navigate the evolving relationship.

EU-China relations play a crucial role in the global business landscape. The current circumstances, marked by geopolitical shifts, economic interdependence, and technological competition, contribute to the volatility and frequent adjustments in this relationship. In this timeline, we aim to capture key milestones and developments that shape EU-China ties.

The European Parliament elections, held between June 6 and June 9, 2024, have ushered in a new era for EU-China relations. The election results revealed a significant shift in the political landscape, with centrist parties losing ground to far-right groups like the Identity and Democracy (ID) and the European Conservatives and Reformists (ECR). This political realignment is poised to influence the EU’s approach to China, introducing more varied and potentially conflicting perspectives on policy.

Traditionally, the EU has maintained a cautious stance toward China, epitomized by the 2019 publication of the EU-China Strategic Outlook, which framed the relationship as one of “partnership, competition, and systemic rivalry.” This tripartite approach was later reiterated in the European Council’s Conclusion on China. However, the narrative toward China has taken a decisive turn with European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen’s speech delivered on March 30, 2023. This speech marked a shift towards a more assertive stance, further strengthened by the release of the European Economic Security Strategy in June of the same year.

In the aftermath of the 2024 elections, the increased fragmentation within the EU Parliament suggests a more complex and uncertain path to forming a cohesive strategy toward China. This uncertainty poses challenges for European companies conducting business with China, as well as Chinese and global businesses operating in Europe, who must now navigate a more unpredictable regulatory environment.

Amid these developments, the Chinese government is keenly observing the evolving dynamics within the EU. China aims to cultivate allies within the European bloc, and this intent was evident during President Xi Jinping’s recent European tour, which included official visits to France, Serbia, and Hungary. During his visit, President Xi reiterated the EU’s significance as China’s major trading partner.

As the new EU Parliament begins its work, strategic discussions have been underway to address key issues, including the EU’s technological and strategic autonomy. To manage different views and promote collaboration on shared interests with China, new cross-regional working groups have been established. These groups are focusing on sectors such as agriculture, aviation, artificial intelligence, energy, and finance, aiming to enhance resilience and foster dialogue.

In this article, we present a timeline of EU-China relations following the EU Parliament elections, reflecting the complexities and opportunities presented by this new chapter in bilateral relations.

This article is republished from China Briefing. Read the rest of the original article.

China Briefing is written and produced by Dezan Shira & Associates. The practice assists foreign investors into China and has done since 1992 through offices in Beijing, Tianjin, Dalian, Qingdao, Shanghai, Hangzhou, Ningbo, Suzhou, Guangzhou, Dongguan, Zhongshan, Shenzhen, and Hong Kong. Please contact the firm for assistance in China at

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Economic Update: Consumption and Trade in China See Strong Recovery Despite Decrease in Industrial Output by May 2024



Industrial output growth in China has slowed, with robust performance in some manufacturing sectors but an increase in consumption driven by services, retail sales, and imports. Despite a slowdown, equipment manufacturing has been crucial in stabilizing overall industrial growth. Certain high-tech and electronic equipment manufacturing sectors have shown strong performance, while the automobile manufacturing sector has decelerated due to falling domestic demand.

The data indicates a slowdown in industrial output growth, despite some manufacturing sectors still showing robust performance. In contrast, consumption is on the rise, driven by growth in services, retail sales, and imports. The uptick in these areas suggests a strengthening of domestic demand, spurred by a stabilizing global economic situation and the boost from the Labor Day Holiday at the beginning of May.

China’s foreign trade also continued to show marked improvement, reflecting the country’s strong export capabilities and increasing imports.

Year-on-year growth in China’s industrial sector slowed in May from the previous month but remained relatively strong. Total industrial value-added output grew by 5.6 percent year-on-year in May, a month-on-month increase of 0.3 percent but a deceleration from 6.7 percent year-on-year growth recorded in April. Value-added output of the manufacturing industry grew 6 percent year-on-year, a deceleration from the 7.5 percent year-on-year in April.

According to NBS spokesperson Liu Aihua, equipment manufacturing played a crucial role in stabilizing overall industrial growth. The sector’s added value increased by 7.5 percent from the previous year, contributing 2.6 percentage points to the growth of all industries above the designated size and accounting for 45.7 percent of the total growth. Within this sector:

Certain high-tech and electronic equipment manufacturing sectors exhibited particularly strong performance:

However, the automobile manufacturing sector decelerated significantly from a 16.3 percent year-on-year jump in April to 7.6 percent year-on-year growth in May, possibly due to falling domestic demand.

This article is republished from China Briefing. Read the rest of the original article.

China Briefing is written and produced by Dezan Shira & Associates. The practice assists foreign investors into China and has done since 1992 through offices in Beijing, Tianjin, Dalian, Qingdao, Shanghai, Hangzhou, Ningbo, Suzhou, Guangzhou, Dongguan, Zhongshan, Shenzhen, and Hong Kong. Please contact the firm for assistance in China at

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Outlook for China’s Wine Market: Current Trends and Opportunities



China’s wine market faces challenges like declining consumption and imports, but remains resilient. Adapting to consumer preferences, focusing on quality and sustainability, and using digital platforms for sales are key strategies. Despite setbacks, the market is promising for foreign producers.

Despite challenges such as declining consumption and import figures, China’s wine market remains resilient and promising. Strategic adaptation to evolving consumer preferences, emphasis on quality and sustainability, and leveraging digital platforms for sales are pivotal strategies for success in this dynamic and competitive landscape.

In recent years, China’s wine market has faced significant challenges marked by declines in key metrics such as consumption, imports, and domestic production. These difficulties were further compounded by the disruptions brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic. Despite these setbacks, the market retains its allure, presenting opportunities for foreign wine producers and exporters who are willing to adapt and strategically engage.

As consumer preferences evolve and government policies increasingly emphasize quality and sustainability, understanding these complexities becomes crucial for stakeholders navigating China’s evolving wine landscape. By staying attuned to shifting trends and regulatory developments, stakeholders can position themselves effectively to capitalize on the market’s enduring potential.

The wine sector in China has experienced dramatic shifts over the last two decades, initially reflecting rapid growth and then gradually declining. In the early 2000s, China emerged as a lucrative market for global wineries seeking expansion due to soaring wine imports driven by rising consumer wealth and the perception of wine as a symbol of sophistication. However, per capita consumption peaked around 2012, and imports have since plateaued, with recent years showing significant market contraction. The COVID-19 pandemic exacerbated these challenges, particularly affecting wine sales due to its association with social gatherings, which were restricted during lockdowns.

Following this trend, in 2023, China saw a significant decline in wine consumption, with a 24.7 percent decrease compared to 2022. According to the International Organization of Vine and Wine (OIV), China’s wine consumption has been falling since 2018, averaging a loss of 2 million hectoliters annually.

Nevertheless, China remains the ninth-largest wine-consuming nation worldwide.

Looking forward to 2024, China’s wine market is poised for dynamic activity, delineated primarily by consumption settings: at-home and out-of-home. According to Statista, revenue from wine sales in supermarkets and convenience stores (at-home) is forecast to reach US$9.7 billion. In contrast, revenue generated from wine consumed in restaurants and bars (out-of-home) is expected to be substantially higher, totaling US$17.2 billion. This projects the total revenue from the wine market to reach US$26.8 billion by the end of 2024.

This article is republished from China Briefing. Read the rest of the original article.

China Briefing is written and produced by Dezan Shira & Associates. The practice assists foreign investors into China and has done since 1992 through offices in Beijing, Tianjin, Dalian, Qingdao, Shanghai, Hangzhou, Ningbo, Suzhou, Guangzhou, Dongguan, Zhongshan, Shenzhen, and Hong Kong. Please contact the firm for assistance in China at

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