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June 07, 2024
Focus This Week
A community space to discuss the China-U.S. relationship and beyond.

Dear Focus Reader,

Top global government and defense officials gathered in Singapore last weekend for the annual Shangri-La Dialogue security summit, where they discussed escalating tensions between major powers, global security challenges, and the ongoing conflict in Ukraine.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy made an appearance, urgently calling for international support against Russian aggression. He also criticized China for allegedly discouraging countries from attending the forthcoming Summit on Peace in Ukraine to be hosted in Switzerland, and accused Beijing of siding with Moscow, starkly contrasting with China's portrayal of itself as a neutral peacemaker. Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi denied these claims and unveiled a plan emphasizing China's commitment to promoting peace. Despite this, China's decision to skip the Switzerland summit, citing concerns over Western insincerity, has raised questions about its true stance on peace efforts.

China's new Defense Minister Admiral Dong Jun also spoke on Taiwan and the Philippines, reiterating China's stance on preventing Taiwanese independence and criticizing foreign interference. U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin responded by reaffirming Washington's commitment to freedom of navigation in the South China Sea and urging restraint regarding Taiwan's political transitions. Despite the tension, Austin and Dong agreed to establish a crisis-communications working group by year-end, a crucial step to mitigate risks of military escalation.

Defense chiefs from the U.S., Japan, and South Korea convened on the sidelines of the summit, discussing the expansion of joint military exercises and addressing concerns regarding North Korea's missile program. They also announced a series of new initiatives aimed at formalizing their cooperation, following their increasing coordination over the past year. The framework outlined in the joint statement includes provisions for senior-level policy consultations, information sharing, trilateral exercises, and defense exchange cooperation. However, the Chinese Foreign Ministry swiftly condemned the statement, alleging deliberate provocation of tensions in the region and violations of international norms.

For more on the latest foreign policy developments, catch up on our latest Focus content, including topics on the Global South, AI, and China-EU relations.

Focus Insights
Quote of the Week
"Europe faces two main concerns: the war in Ukraine and China-related economic issues, including trade imbalances, market access, asymmetries, and overcapacity. China is revealing a reluctance to take action on these matters. If the interconnectedness of these factors remains unaddressed, competitive pressure will intensify further."
Sebastian Contin Trillo-Figueroa
Geopolitics Analyst in EU-Asia Relations and AsiaGlobal Fellow, The University of Hong Kong

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Learn more in "Is Europe Trapped?," by Jade Wong, a Senior Fellow at the Gordon & Leon Institute.

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Question of the Week:

In our Focus Insights section, we shared an article by Ananth Krishnan, Director at The Hindu Group and AsiaGlobal Fellow at the University of Hong Kong, where he discusses the rising influence of the Global South in global politics and the challenges it faces in navigating great power rivalries and internal differences.

We want to hear from you:

How can Global South countries navigate the growing pressure to align with either the U.S. or China amidst their escalating tensions? In what ways can they ensure they continue to have a bigger share of voice in international forums and global decision-making processes?

Submit your thoughts to for a chance to be featured in next week's Focus This Week.

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About Focus This Week

Prepared by China-US Focus editorial teams in Hong Kong and New York, this weekly newsletter offers you snap shots of latest trends and developments emerging from China and the U.S. every week. It is a community space to exchange thoughts and ideas about the China-U.S. relationship and beyond.

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