SINGAPORE (AP) — China’s defense minister defended the passage of a U.S. destroyer and a Canadian warship as they pass through the Taiwan Strait, China’s defense minister told a gathering of some of the world’s top defense officials Sunday in Singapore. “Navigation” patrols are a provocation for China.
In his first international public address since becoming defense minister in March, General Li Shangfu said China had no problem with the “innocent path” in the Shangri-La dialogue, but “we must prevent attempts to use that freedom.” Navigation (Patrol), that innocent passage, to exercise the supremacy of navigation.”
US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin At the same forum on Saturday, Washington said it would “not countenance bullying or coercion” from China and would continue to travel through and fly over the Taiwan Strait and the South China Sea to assert that they are international waters in the face of Beijing’s broader territorial claims. .
On the same day, an American guided-missile destroyer and a Canadian warship were intercepted by a Chinese warship as they passed between the self-governing island of Taiwan, which China claims as its own territory, and the Chinese mainland. According to the US Indo-Pacific Command, the Chinese ship overtook the US ship and “unsafely” passed 150 yards (about 140 meters) off its bow.
Additionally, the US has claimed that China’s J-16 fighter jet Late last month, it intercepted a US Air Force spy plane in the South China Sea and “performed an unnecessarily aggressive maneuver” while flying straight into the plane’s nose.
Those and previous incidents have raised concerns about a possible accident that could lead to an escalation between the two countries at a time when tensions are already high.
Li suggested that the US and its allies have created a danger and should instead focus on “taking good care of your own airspace and waters”.
“The best option is for countries, especially their naval ships and warplanes, not to conduct closing operations around other countries’ territories,” he said through a translator. “What’s the use of going there? In China we always say, ‘Mind your own business’.
In a wide-ranging speech, Li reiterated many of Beijing’s well-known positions, including its claim on Taiwan, which he called “the center of our core interests.”
He accused the US and others of “interfering in China’s internal affairs” by providing security support and training to Taiwan.and conducting high-level diplomatic visits.
“China is committed to the path of peaceful development, but we will never hesitate to protect our legitimate rights and interests, let alone sacrifice the country’s core interests,” he said.
“As the lyrics of a well-known Chinese song say: ‘When friends visit us, we welcome them with good wine. When jackals or wolves come, we face them with guns.
In his speech earlier in the day, Austin broadly outlined the US vision for a “free, open and secure Indo-Pacific within a world of rules and rights”.
To that end, Austin said, the US has stepped up planning, coordination and training with “friends from the East China Sea to the South China Sea to the Indian Ocean” with shared goals to “deter aggression and deepen rules and regulations.” It promotes prosperity and prevents conflict.”
Li scoffed at the idea, saying, “Some countries take a selective approach to rules and international laws.”
“It wants to impose its own rules on others,” he said. “The so-called ‘rules-based international order’ never tells you what the rules are and who made these rules.”
Instead, he said, “We practice diversity and pursue win-win cooperation.”
Li is under U.S. sanctions imposed in 2018 over Li’s involvement in China’s purchase of fighter jets and anti-aircraft missiles from Moscow as part of a broader package of measures against Russia — but prior to its invasion of Ukraine.
U.S. defense officials have said the sanctions, which broadly bar Li from doing business in the U.S., will not prevent him from holding official talks.
However, he declined Austin’s invitation to speak On the sidelines of the conference, the two sat on opposite sides of the same table and shook hands as the forum opened on Friday.
Austin said that wasn’t enough.
“A warm handshake over dinner is no substitute for a substantial engagement,” Austin said.
Since 2021 — even before Li became defense minister — China has refused or failed to respond to more than a dozen requests from the U.S. Defense Department to speak with senior leaders, as well as numerous requests for standing talks and working-level engagements.
“China is open to communication between our two countries and our two militaries,” Li said, but without mentioning economic sanctions, said exchanges must be “based on mutual respect.”
“It’s a very basic principle,” he said. “If there is not even mutual respect, our communications will not be effective.”
He said he recognized that “any serious confrontation or conflict between China and the United States would be an intolerable disaster for the world,” adding that the two countries should find ways to improve relations.
“History has proven time and time again that China and the United States will benefit from cooperation and lose from conflict,” he said.
“China is seeking to build a new type of major-country relationship with the US. For the US side, it should act with sincerity, match its words with actions, and take concrete measures with China to stabilize relations and prevent further deterioration,” Li said.