‘Stop smearing’ China: Chinese defense minister accuses US of creating ‘conflict and confrontation’

An F-16V fighter jet taxied down the runway in January for an emergency takeoff as part of a Taiwanese military drill in Chiayi, Taiwan, as China ramped up overflights of PLA fighter jets over the self-governing island in 2022.

Nurfoto | Nurfoto | fake images

SINGAPORE — China’s defense minister has accused the United States of “smearing” Beijing and said Washington is trying to “hijack” countries in the Indo-Pacific region.

Wei Fenghe, speaking at the Shangri-La Dialogue in Singapore, said the burden of improving troubled ties between the United States and China falls on Washington.

“We call on the US side to stop smearing and containing China. Stop interfering in China’s internal affairs. The bilateral relationship cannot improve unless the US side can do that,” he told delegates at the dialogue, Asia’s premier defense conference.

“However, if you want a confrontation, we will fight to the end. The two militaries should make positive efforts for a positive relationship,” Wei added.

Wei said US President Joe Biden’s new Indo-Pacific strategy is leading to “conflicts and confrontations.”

The United States announced its Indo-Pacific Economic Framework, or IPEF, in May as part of its strategy for the region. The IPEF covers 13 countries and excludes China.

“For us, the strategy is an attempt to build a small exclusive group in the name of a free and open Indo-Pacific, to hijack countries in our region and target a specific country,” Wei said on the final day of the three. Dialogue day in Singapore.

“It is a strategy to create conflict and confrontation to contain and surround others,” he said. “China seeks peace and stability, and is not an aggressor in the Indo-Pacific,” she said, urging the United States to “strengthen solidarity and oppose confrontation and division.”

During the summit, which featured speeches by Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida and US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, China has been pushing back against narratives of Chinese aggression in the Indo-Pacific.

Senior serving and retired Chinese military officials have held special media briefings to counter Kishida and Austin’s speeches.

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Speaking on Saturday, Austin described the Indo-Pacific as a “priority theater of operations” that is at the “heart of American grand strategy.” He called the Indo-Pacific Strategy released in february critical to the upcoming Biden Administration National Security Strategy and to his own department’s National Defense Strategy.

Austin sharply criticized Beijing’s increasingly “coercive and aggressive” approach to its claims in the Indo-Pacific, where China is involved in territorial disputes with several neighbors, including Japan, India, the Philippines, Vietnam and Indonesia.

Warning on Taiwan

On Sunday, Wei also issued a brief warning about Taiwan, which China views as a breakaway province that will be reunited with the mainland, by force as a last resort. China will fight any attempt by Taiwan to declare independence to the “last man,” he said.

“We will fight at all costs and we will fight to the end. This is the only option for China,” he said. “Those who pursue Taiwan independence in an attempt to divide China will definitely not meet a good end.”

“It is the Taiwan of China, a province of China. We will realize the reunification of Taiwan,” Wei said.

His speech came a day after US Defense Secretary Austin accused China of “provocative and destabilizing” military activity near the island.

The United States is obligated to provide the self-governing island with the weapons and services to defend itself under its Taiwan Relations Act.

Austin had claimed that it was China that was upping the stakes.

“We see increasing coercion from Beijing. We have witnessed a steady increase in provocative and destabilizing military activity near Taiwan. and that includes [People’s Liberation Army] aircraft flying near Taiwan in record numbers in recent months, and almost daily,” he said.

China’s Wei also called for talks between NATO and Russia to end the Ukraine war. He said that China did not have a pact with Russia.

“It is a partnership, not an alliance. Relations with Russia will continue to grow. We have not provided any military or material support to Russia” for its war in Ukraine, Wei said.


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