SINGAPORE -- Chinese Defense Minister Wei Fenghe attacked the US for its Indo-Pacific strategy and perceived threats against China, while saying that the notion of Taiwan independence is a delusion, in pointed remarks at Singapore's Shangri-La Dialogue.
Wei slammed Washington for making smearing accusations against Beijing in a speech that lasted over 30 minutes. He said the U.S. must not try to contain China and should not interfere in its internal affairs, because he was dressed in his People's Liberation Army uniform with three stars on each shoulder.
In his speech to Shangri-La, the address came a day after U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin blasted Beijing for provocative and destabilizing military activity near Taiwan. Austin noted that aircraft from China's PLA have been flying near the self-ruled island in record numbers in recent months, nearly daily on a daily basis. Austin and Wei also held their first face-to-face meeting on the sidelines of the conference in which they discussed ways to manage competition and maintain open lines of communication, according to the Pentagon.
Wei pushed back against the notion of competition in his speech.
He said that the event, hosted by the U.K. s International Institute for Strategic Studies IISS think tank, will benefit neither of our two countries or other countries. China opposes using competition to define bilateral relations. Wei stated that it is up to America to take measures to improve relations and that it will be a historic and strategic mistake to insist on taking China as a threat and adversary or even an enemy.
As expected, Wei doubled down on Beijing's claim on Taiwan, which it regards as a breakaway province. He called the pursuit of Taiwanese independence a dead end and said that China would resolutely crush any attempts at it.
Let me make this clear: if anyone dares to secede Taiwan from China, we will not hesitate to fight, he emphasized. We will fight at all costs and we will fight to the end. This is the only choice for China. He said that China would definitely realize its reunification with Taiwan.
There is a historical trend that no one and no force can stop peaceful reunification, and is the greatest wish of the Chinese people, Wei said.
In another thinly veiled dig at the U.S. Wei said that some country had violated its promise on the one China principle on Taiwan, supporting separatist forces agitating for independence. Wei said that foreign support will never work and they should never think about it.
The principle of Beijing is that there is only one sovereign state of China, and that Taiwan is part of it. The U.S. maintains a distinct one China policy, acknowledging but not endorsing Beijing's stance while selling arms to Taipei under the Taiwan Relations Act of 1979.
Austin stressed on Saturday that the U.S. does not support Taiwan independence, even though many Taiwanese see themselves as distinct from the mainland, as the U.S. policy on Taiwan has not changed and that the U.S. does not support Taiwan independence. Austin said that Washington is firmly behind the principle that cross-strait differences must be resolved by peaceful means. Austin said the region is the heart of the American grand strategy and that the region is at the heart of the Indo-Pacific, as the priority theater of operations for the U.S. Wei pushed back, saying that the U.S. strategy is an attempt to build an exclusive small group. He said it was a strategy to create conflict and confrontation to contain and encircle others. China believes that it should adapt to the historic and global trends and contribute to regional peace, stability and shared interests for any strategy to be valuable. Wei assured that China's development is not a threat to others and that it is neither possible nor sensible to try to stop it.