Is there a split between the political leadership in Beijing and the People's Liberation Army? That's an interesting question hanging over the start of the Shangri-la Dialogue here in Singapore. I'll be posting comments on anything of interest that comes up over the three-day conference. The best (if any) way forward on North Korea after the sinking of the Cheonan is also expected to be discussed, with South Korean President Lee Myung-Bak giving the keynote address here later this evening.
I met with Adam Ward, director of studies for the Dialogue organisers the Institute for International Security Studies, about the ongoing tensions on the Korean peninsula and also Beijing's role potential role in prodding Pyongyang. That interview will be posted on The Diplomat tomorrow. But as I said, it's that question about China that's really fascinating after the apparent snubbing of US Defence Secretary Robert Gates, who wasn't invited to Beijing on his current Asia trip that also takes in the Shangri-la Dialogue.
This annual meeting is often seen as a useful barometer of Sino-US ties, so it will be interesting to try and get a sense of how things stand. Gates was forthright with his view ahead of the dialogue today, accusing the PLA of impeding Chinese political leaders seeking closer ties with the Pentagon.