US and China clash over Taiwan
China and the United States continue to clash at an international security summit in Singapore. Chinese Defense Minister Wei Fenghe has accused his US counterpart Lloyd Austin of defamation, slander and threats after he previously criticized China’s handling of Taiwan and other territorial disputes.
Wei thinks the United States should stop “interfering in China’s internal affairs.” He also said the ball was in Washington’s court when it came to improving the already troubled relationship between the two countries. The Chinese minister has repeatedly said in Singapore that his country seeks peace and stability and is not an aggressor.
Austin said on Saturday that China was becoming “more coercive and aggressive.” He spoke of an “alarming” increase in the number of dangerous and unprofessional incidents between Chinese planes and ships with those of other countries. Austin reiterated that the United States supports Taiwan. He condemned China’s “destabilizing” military activities near Taiwan.
The US criticism came a day after ministers first met in person at the so-called Shangri-La Dialogue, where 28 Pacific nations discuss security issues each year. The ministers clashed in bilateral talks on Taiwan. Beijing considers the island as a renegade province, while Washington offers, among other things, military support to the Taiwanese authorities.
Wei reiterated at the summit that the Chinese government supports “peaceful reunification” with Taiwan, but does not rule out military intervention. He said Beijing would do everything in its power to “fight to the end” against Taiwan independence and “would not hesitate to fight if anyone tried to separate Taiwan from China.” The minister also warned that the Chinese military should not be underestimated. “Those who seek Taiwan independence with the aim of dividing China will certainly end badly.”
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