The Cable

The Cable goes inside the foreign policy machine, from Foggy Bottom to Turtle Bay, the White House to Embassy Row.

Cable guy grills Chinese Defense Minister on U.S.-China military competition

SINGAPORE – Rarely does a top Chinese government official take questions from foreign reporters in an open setting. But today, Chinese Defense Minister Gen. Liang Guanglie addressed the 10th annual IISS Shangri-La Security Dialogue and took several questions, including one set from your humble Cable guy. We asked him to react to yesterday’s announcement by ...

SINGAPORE – Rarely does a top Chinese government official take questions from foreign reporters in an open setting. But today, Chinese Defense Minister Gen. Liang Guanglie addressed the 10th annual IISS Shangri-La Security Dialogue and took several questions, including one set from your humble Cable guy.

We asked him to react to yesterday’s announcement by Defense Secretary Robert Gates that the U.S. would increase its military presence and involvement in Southeast Asia, which is widely seen as a response to Chinese assertiveness in the region and China’s recent aggressive actions in the heavily disputed South China Sea. We also asked him what the Chinese response would be and whether China’s development of anti-access and area denial weaponry was contributing to an arms race in Southeast Asia.

Liang spent most of his answer praising recent improvements in the U.S.-China military to military relationship, as Gates had done all weekend as part of the joint effort to portray a warming of ties. But Liang ended his remarks by claiming that in the South China Sea, "the freedom of navigation has never been impeded, has never been a problem, and the situation in the South China Sea remains stable."

The Chinese officers in the room next door were clearly not happy with the Cable‘s questions, one conference delegate told us after the session, and they were asking other conference goers for details about this "rude American reporter."

Watch the entire exchange here:

SINGAPORE – Rarely does a top Chinese government official take questions from foreign reporters in an open setting. But today, Chinese Defense Minister Gen. Liang Guanglie addressed the 10th annual IISS Shangri-La Security Dialogue and took several questions, including one set from your humble Cable guy.

We asked him to react to yesterday’s announcement by Defense Secretary Robert Gates that the U.S. would increase its military presence and involvement in Southeast Asia, which is widely seen as a response to Chinese assertiveness in the region and China’s recent aggressive actions in the heavily disputed South China Sea. We also asked him what the Chinese response would be and whether China’s development of anti-access and area denial weaponry was contributing to an arms race in Southeast Asia.

Liang spent most of his answer praising recent improvements in the U.S.-China military to military relationship, as Gates had done all weekend as part of the joint effort to portray a warming of ties. But Liang ended his remarks by claiming that in the South China Sea, "the freedom of navigation has never been impeded, has never been a problem, and the situation in the South China Sea remains stable."

The Chinese officers in the room next door were clearly not happy with the Cable‘s questions, one conference delegate told us after the session, and they were asking other conference goers for details about this "rude American reporter."

Watch the entire exchange here:

Josh Rogin covers national security and foreign policy and writes the daily Web column The Cable. His column appears bi-weekly in the print edition of The Washington Post. He can be reached for comments or tips at josh.rogin@foreignpolicy.com.

Previously, Josh covered defense and foreign policy as a staff writer for Congressional Quarterly, writing extensively on Iraq, Afghanistan, Guantánamo Bay, U.S.-Asia relations, defense budgeting and appropriations, and the defense lobbying and contracting industries. Prior to that, he covered military modernization, cyber warfare, space, and missile defense for Federal Computer Week Magazine. He has also served as Pentagon Staff Reporter for the Asahi Shimbun, Japan's leading daily newspaper, in its Washington, D.C., bureau, where he reported on U.S.-Japan relations, Chinese military modernization, the North Korean nuclear crisis, and more.

A graduate of George Washington University's Elliott School of International Affairs, Josh lived in Yokohama, Japan, and studied at Tokyo's Sophia University. He speaks conversational Japanese and has reported from the region. He has also worked at the House International Relations Committee, the Embassy of Japan, and the Brookings Institution.

Josh's reporting has been featured on CNN, MSNBC, C-Span, CBS, ABC, NPR, WTOP, and several other outlets. He was a 2008-2009 National Press Foundation's Paul Miller Washington Reporting Fellow, 2009 military reporting fellow with the Knight Center for Specialized Journalism and the 2011 recipient of the InterAction Award for Excellence in International Reporting. He hails from Philadelphia and lives in Washington, D.C. Twitter: @joshrogin

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