China expressed Monday its willingness to develop a military relationship with the United States after the two countries confirmed last week the importance of reopening bilateral communication channels between their forces as they prepare for a summit between their leaders.

Gen. Zhang Youxia, vice chairman of the Central Military Commission -- China's highest national defense organization -- said in a speech to an international security forum that Beijing will develop military ties with Washington "under the principle of mutual respect, peaceful coexistence and win-win cooperation."

Gen. Zhang Youxia, vice chairman of China's Central Military Commission, delivers a keynote speech at the Xiangshan Forum in Beijing on Oct. 30, 2023. (Kyodo) ==Kyodo

The three-day forum through Tuesday, which Beijing is promoting as the Chinese alternative to the annual Shangri-La Dialogue in Singapore, is being attended by a U.S. delegation led by Cynthia Carras, principal director for China, Taiwan and Mongolia at the Defense Department.

Carras had a brief exchange with Wu Qian, a spokesman of China's Defense Ministry, at the security forum, according to a Chinese media report.

U.S.-China military-to-military communication has been suspended since a visit in August last year by then House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi to Taiwan.

Zhang, who delivered the speech in the absence of a Chinese defense minister following the unexplained dismissal of Li Shangfu last week, also warned against any moves to "split Taiwan from China in any form," saying the self-ruled island is at the "core of the core interests of China."

The Chinese military will "never allow" any such efforts and will "never be soft" on them, maintaining that the one-China principle is "a universal consensus" of the international community. Beijing regards the democratic island as a renegade province to be united with the mainland, by force if necessary.

In a veiled criticism against the United States and other Western nations, Zhang said certain countries "keep stirring up troubles around the world" as they "deliberately create turbulences" and interfere in other countries' internal affairs.

"They keep sowing discord all around for their own interests, resulting in many geopolitical problems," Zhang added. Noting that hegemonism and Cold War mentality have "long been outdated and unpopular," he emphasized the need to avoid bloc confrontations.

Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu also lashed out at Western nations including Japan, saying the United States is "working tirelessly to maintain its hegemony" and that opposition to "a new type of Western colonialism is growing."

Shoigu said U.S. military activities are intensifying in Asia and expressed caution about the sharing of missile launch information among Washington, Seoul and Tokyo, saying its intent is to "deter China and Russia."

The Russian minister insisted cooperative relations between Moscow and Beijing, including in the military area, can "serve as a model" for and have become more attractive to other countries.

He also rapped NATO's increased presence in the Asia-Pacific region, calling its deployment of military assets here "the biggest security threat" of late.

The Russian defense chief also said Moscow is willing to have negotiations on post-conflict resolution on the Ukraine crisis and coexistence with the West "if conditions are right," urging Western countries to drop what Moscow believes are "destructive policies" hindering realization of such a dialogue.

Zhang and Shoigu held talks on the sidelines of the forum and agreed to boost military cooperation, China's official Xinhua News Agency said.

The forum, held in-person for the first time in four years due to the COVID-19 pandemic, came after China's parliament approved Li's removal from the defense minister post last Tuesday, nearly two months after he disappeared from public view. Speculation is rife that he may be under investigation over corruption.

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