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All eyes on Singapore with scheduled appearance of China’s defence minister

China’s Minister of National Defence General Wei Fenghe is scheduled to speak at a regional security summit in Singapore next month, the first time in nearly a decade Beijing has sent a high-ranking official to the Shangri-La Dialogue.

The event, which is organised by the International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS) - Asia, is expected to see Minister Wei take questions from the audience directly following his speech, which will take place on 2 June.

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“In a highly anticipated speech, General Wei Fenghe will speak on China’s role in the Indo-Pacific at a pivotal time for the region,” IISS said in the statement.

“His presence at the dialogue provides a unique opportunity for those in attendance to engage with a leading figure within the PLA.”

Minister Wei's speech is scheduled to take place a day after US acting Secretary of Defense Patrick Shanahan address delegates the event, which should prove interesting following the continuation of rising tensions between China and the US, both over a trade war and China's activities in the South China Sea.

Last week, US Navy destroyer Preble sailed within 12 nautical miles of the disputed Scarborough Shoal in the South China Sea to "challenge excessive maritime claims and preserve access to the waterways as governed by international law", the second such time this month that a US Navy ship has posed a challenge to China's maritime claims.

In the past few weeks, US President Donald Trump has worked to effectively ban local companies working with Huawei, China's technological giant, over security concerns and hacking claims.

This could lead to a backlash from China in banning Apple products from its shores, a move that would push Apple's revenue down by almost a fifth, which could be catastrophic for the company and the US in general.

The Shangri-La Dialogue is described as "Asia's premier defence summit", where top officials in the region can "engage in open debate and bilateral talks aimed at enhancing their collaboration in response to the Indo-Pacific’s diverse security problems".

The event runs from 31 May to 2 June at the Shangri-La Hotel in Singapore.

All eyes on Singapore with scheduled appearance of China’s defence minister
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