China’s Wei slams US ‘defamation’, Taiwan independence ‘illusion’
SINGAPORE — Chinese Defense Minister Wei Fenghe on Sunday criticized the United States for its Indo-Pacific strategy and perceived “threats against China,” while saying the notion of Taiwan independence is an “illusion. ‘, in pointed remarks at Singapore’s Shangri-La. Dialogue.
In a speech that lasted more than 30 minutes, Wei criticized Washington for making “slanderous accusations” against Beijing. Wearing his People’s Liberation Army uniform with three stars on each shoulder, he said the United States should stop trying to contain China and avoid interfering in its internal affairs.
The speech came a day after US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin criticized Beijing for “provocative and destabilizing military activity near Taiwan”, in his own speech at the Shangri-La. Austin noted that Chinese PLA planes have been flying near the self-governing island in “record numbers” in recent months, “almost daily.”
Austin and Wei also held their first face-to-face meeting on the sidelines of the conference, where they discussed ways to “responsibly handle competition and keep lines of communication open,” according to the Pentagon.
But in his speech, Wei pushed back on the notion of competition itself.
“The confrontation will not benefit our two countries or other countries,” he said at the event organized by the United Kingdom’s International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS) think tank. United. “China opposes the use of competition to define bilateral relations.”
Wei added, “It will be a historical and strategic mistake to insist on taking China as a threat and an adversary or even an enemy,” stressing that it is up to America to take steps to improve relations.
As expected, Wei doubled down on Beijing’s claim to Taiwan, which he considers a breakaway province. He called Taiwan’s pursuit of independence a “stalemate” and said China would “resolutely crush” any attempt to do so.
“Let me be clear: if anyone dares to secede Taiwan from China, we will not hesitate to fight,” he said. “We will fight at all costs and we will fight until the end. This is the only choice for China.”
He also said that China will “definitely achieve reunification” with Taiwan.
“It’s a historic trend that no one or force can stop – peaceful reunification is the greatest wish of the Chinese people,” Wei said.
In another thinly veiled dig in the United States, Wei said “a country” had broken its promise on the “one China principle” to Taiwan, backing separatist forces pushing for independence. “Asking for foreign support will never work and they should never think about it,” Wei said.
The Beijing principle is that there is only one sovereign state in China and Taiwan is one of them. The United States, meanwhile, maintains a distinct ‘one China policy’, acknowledging but not endorsing Beijing’s position while selling arms to Taipei under the 1979 Taiwan Relations Act. .
Austin on Saturday was careful to point out that US policy toward Taiwan had not changed and that the United States did not support Taiwanese independence, even though many Taiwanese see themselves as separate from the mainland. Austin said Washington “strongly supports the principle that cross-strait differences should be resolved by peaceful means.”
Austin had also called the Indo-Pacific a “priority theater of operations” for the United States and said the region was central to US grand strategy. Wei again pushed back, saying the US strategy is “an attempt to build a small, exclusive group.”
“It’s a strategy to create conflict and confrontation in order to contain and surround others,” he said. “China believes that for a strategy to be valid, it must adapt to historical and global trends and contribute to regional peace, stability and the shared interests of all.”
“China’s development is not a threat to others,” Wei said, stressing that “it is neither possible nor reasonable to try to stop it.”
After his speech, Wei met with his Japanese counterpart Nobuo Kishi, the first meeting between the countries’ defense chiefs in two and a half years.
In his opening remarks, Kishi pointed out that “many concerns exist between Japan and China, including various security issues,” referring to disputes in the East and South China Seas. Kishi expressed his intention to “frankly exchange views” on these concerns and “build a constructive and stable relationship” between the neighbors.
Wei told Kishi that he wants to “strengthen future bilateral cooperation through dialogue and develop relations based on trust and consensus between the two governments.”
Meanwhile, South Korea’s defense minister promised that his country would strengthen its defense capabilities to counter the North Korean threat. It signaled a further defense buildup in Northeast Asia, after Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida pledged on Friday to “fundamentally” strengthen Japan’s defenses over the next five years.