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China's People's Liberation Army Vice President of Academy of Military Science, He Lei, shakes hands with Singapore's Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen at Shangri-La Dialogue in Singapore on June 3.   © Reuters
Politics

China avoids full confrontation with US

But Beijing remains steadfast in opposing arms sales to Taiwan

SINGAPORE -- China and the U.S. did some verbal sparring here on Saturday during the 16th Asia Security Summit, also known as the Shangri-La Dialogue.

It was up to He Lei, vice president of the Academy of Military Science of the Chinese People's Liberation Army, to respond to a defiant speech by James Mattis, the U.S. secretary of defense, who stressed that the U.S. will continue to export arms to Taiwan and criticized China's aggression in the South China Sea.

China, which considers Taiwan a renegade province, did not let the issue go but also stressed the importance of cooperation between the two countries.

Immediately after Mattis' speech, China invited reporters to a news conference. He first discussed Taiwan, saying China firmly opposes U.S. arms exports to the republic as well as any official contact with the island's government.

He, a lieutenant general, is heading China's delegation to the Shangri-La Dialogue. In the past, China has assigned the job to higher-ranked generals.

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