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Chinese Lt. Gen. Le Hei, center, on Sunday at the Shangri-La Dialogue in Singapore.

China tries to play nice at key security forum

Beijing eager to warm ties with US, but refuses to back down on core interests

OKI NAGAI, Nikkei staff writer | China

SINGAPORE -- Although China attempted to strike a more conciliatory tone in this year's Shangri-La Dialogue, a major Asian security forum held here through Sunday, officials' uncompromising comments on Taiwan and the South China Sea only highlighted its rifts with the international community ahead of the key Communist Party meeting in the fall.

For the previous four years, China had sent the deputy chief of the Joint Staff Department of the Central Military Commission, who reemphasized Beijing's various claims at a plenary session. In 2015, Adm. Sun Jianguo stressed that Beijing's island-building activities in the South China Sea were "legitimate, justified and reasonable." China "cannot permit its sovereignty and security rights and interests to be encroached upon," he said in 2016.

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