China continues to put pressure on the US over the Taiwan issue. Now the Secretary of Defense threatened to call in the military.
China’s Defense Minister Li Shangfu has warned the US against interfering in the dispute over Taiwan. In a speech at the Shangri-La Dialog security conference in Singapore on Sunday, the general again threatened military action against the democratic island republic. “If anyone dares to separate Taiwan from China, the Chinese military will not hesitate for a second,” the new defense minister said. “We will fear no adversary and resolutely protect our national sovereignty and territorial integrity regardless of the cost.”
The general criticized US arms sales and military training to Taiwan, as well as upgrading Washington-Taipei relations. Taiwan is an internal matter of China, in which no one should interfere, said Li Shangfu. “Taiwan is China’s Taiwan.” It is “absurd and dangerous” to undermine Beijing’s one-China principle. After that, Taiwan is part of the People’s Republic. “Reunification” is unstoppable, said the minister at his first appearance at the security conference.
Incident between warships in the Taiwan Strait
There was an incident between an American warship and a Chinese ship in the Taiwan Strait on Saturday. According to reporters from Canada’s Global News who were on the frigate HMCS Montreal, a Chinese ship came within 137 meters of the US destroyer USS Chung-Hoon. Canada and the US were on a joint patrol.
The Chinese ship was therefore driving at high speed and turned just before the US destroyer. Canadian captain Paul Mountford described this as “not professional”. The Chinese crew also asked the US marines to change course, otherwise there was a risk of a collision. The Americans then reduced speed and changed direction, the report said.
China contradicted the representations in a statement. “The Chinese PLA Eastern Theater Command’s naval and air forces conducted tracking and surveillance of the US destroyer and Canadian frigate throughout the course and dealt with the situation lawfully and professionally,” said the Chinese military spokesman.
Pistorius calls for de-escalation
Li Shangfu described relations with the US at a “record low” since relations began in 1979. Regarding the lack of communication that the US is increasingly complaining about, the general said when asked that China was open in principle to talks between the two governments and the military, but follow the principle: “If we don’t have mutual respect, then our communication will not be productive.” In Singapore, Li Shangfu had turned down the US request for a meeting with his US counterpart Lloyd Austin.
Austin warned China on Saturday against military action against Taiwan. “A cross-strait conflict would be devastating,” he said. Such an escalation would affect the global economy “in ways we cannot imagine.” At the meeting, Defense Minister Boris Pistorius called for increased efforts to de-escalate the conflict over Taiwan.