In a meeting between China and the U.S. on Friday, Chinese Defense Minister General Wei Fenghe warned that the country would go to war with Taiwan if the island declared independence.
The two nations met in Singapore for the IISS Shangri-La Dialogue defense summit alongside over 30 other defense ministers and officials from around the world. Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida gave the event’s keynote speech.
In a separate face-to-face meeting with U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, Wei made it clear that China remained firm in its stance against Taiwanese independence.
“If anyone dares to split Taiwan from China, the Chinese army will definitely not hesitate to start a war no matter the cost,” the general said.
Taiwan’s foreign ministry denounced China’s “absurd” claims of sovereignty and thanked the US for the show of support. “Taiwan has never been under the jurisdiction of the Chinese government, and the people of Taiwan will not succumb to threats of force from the Chinese government,” said ministry spokeswoman Joanne Ou.
In a speech on Saturday, Austin blasted China’s “provocative, destabilising” military activity near Taiwan and said the US would do its part to manage tensions with China and prevent conflict despite Beijing becoming increasingly aggressive in the Asia-Pacific region. He told the Shangri-La forum the US would continue to stand by its allies, including Taiwan.
“That’s especially important as the PRC [China] adopts a more coercive and aggressive approach to its territorial claims,” Austin said. There had been an “alarming” increase in the number of unsafe and unprofessional encounters between Chinese planes and vessels with those of other countries, Austin said. A senior Chinese military officer called Austin’s speech “confrontational.”
The U.S. Department of Defense also stated, while “the United States remains committed to our longstanding one China policy … The Secretary reaffirmed the importance of peace and stability across the Strait, opposition to unilateral changes to the status quo, and called on the PRC to refrain from further destabilizing actions toward Taiwan.”
The “one China policy” asserts that there is one country, China, with two systems. It maintains the idea that Taiwan remains an inalienable part of China as its territory, but it is also permitted to establish a political system separate from the mainland.
ARTICLE: PAUL MURDOCH
MANAGING EDITOR: CARSON CHOATE
PHOTO CREDITS: RTE.IE
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