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China will “not hesitate to start a war over Taiwan,” Beijing told the US

#China #hesitate #start #war #Taiwan #Beijing #told

Beijing will “not hesitate to start a war” if Taiwan declares independence, China’s defense minister warned his US counterpart on Friday, the latest salvo between the superpowers over the island.

Wei Fenghe’s warning came as he held his first face-to-face meeting with US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin on the sidelines of the Shangri-La Dialogue security summit in Singapore.

Beijing regards democratic, self-governing Taiwan as its territory and has vowed to one day seize the island, by force if necessary, and US-China tensions over the matter have risen sharply in recent months.

Wei warned Austin that “if anyone dares to separate Taiwan from China, the Chinese army will definitely not hesitate to start a war no matter what the cost,” Defense Ministry spokesman Wu Qian quoted the minister as saying during the meeting .

The Chinese minister pledged that Beijing “will tear apart any conspiracy of ‘Taiwan independence’ and resolutely uphold the unification of the motherland,” according to the Chinese Defense Ministry.

He “stressed that Taiwan is China’s Taiwan… Using Taiwan to contain China will never catch on,” the ministry said.

According to the US Department of Defense, “Austin reiterated the importance of peace and stability across the (Taiwan) Straits, opposition to unilateral changes in the status quo, and called on (China) to refrain from further destabilizing measures towards Taiwan.”

Tensions around Taiwan have escalated, particularly due to increasing incursions by Chinese aircraft into the island’s Air Defense Identification Zone (ADIZ).

US President Joe Biden appeared to break decades of US policy during a visit to Japan last month when, in response to a question, he said Washington would defend Taiwan militarily if it was attacked by China.

The White House has since insisted its policy of “strategic ambiguity” over whether or not it would intervene has not changed.

– Japanese Prime Minister issues warning –

Amid growing concerns over China-Taiwan tensions, Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida issued a stark warning at the summit: “Ukraine can be East Asia this morning.”

The world must be “prepared for the emergence of a unity that tramples on the peace and security of other countries by force or threat without respecting the rules,” he said.

He did not name China in his speech, but repeatedly called for the “rules-based international order” to be maintained.

Austin is the latest senior US official to visit Asia as Washington seeks to shift its foreign policy focus back to the region from the Ukraine war.

In addition to Taiwan, China and the United States have been involved in a number of other disputes.

They have clashed over Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, with Washington accusing Beijing of tacitly supporting Moscow.

China has called for talks on an end to the war but has stopped condemning Russia’s actions and has repeatedly criticized US arms donations to Ukraine.

China’s expansive claims in the South China Sea have also fueled tensions with Washington.

Beijing claims almost all of the resource-rich sea through which trillions of dollars flow annually in shipping trade, with competing claims from Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines, Taiwan and Vietnam.

Austin arrived in Singapore late Thursday and held a series of meetings with his colleagues on Friday.

At a meeting with Southeast Asian defense ministers, he spoke about Washington’s “strategy for maintaining an open, inclusive, and rules-based regional security environment,” according to a Singapore government statement.

His comments were a veiled hint to counter China’s increasing assertiveness in the region.

Austin will address the forum on Saturday, followed by Wei on Sunday. The summit takes place from June 10-12 and is taking place for the first time since 2019 after being postponed twice due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

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