The media pass continues. Chinese Defense Minister Wei Fenghe said on Sunday June 12 that it was up to the United States to improve bilateral relations between Beijing and Washington, which had reached a critical point.
Speaking at the Shangri-La Dialogue, an international conference on Asia-Pacific defense and security being held in Singapore, Wei repeatedly said that China only pursues peace and stability, and was not an aggressor. He called on the United States to “strengthening solidarity and opposing confrontation and division”, wishing for a sino-american relationship ” steady “which, according to him, is “vital for world peace”.
“We call on the US side to stop denigrating and containing China. Stop interfering in China’s internal affairs. Bilateral relations cannot improve if the United States does not do this. »
The Chinese minister said that China firmly rejects “the accusations and even the threats [proférées par les] UNITED STATES “ during the speech delivered, Saturday in Singapore, by the American Secretary of Defense, Lloyd Austin. The latter had denounced the military activity “provocative and destabilizing” from Beijing near Taiwan.
The thorny issue of Taiwan
But Mr. Austin had also stressed the importance of maintaining the “fully open lines of communication with China’s defense officials” to avoid calculation errors. The pair had their first face-to-face talk on the sidelines of the Singapore summit on Friday, where they clashed over Taiwan.
China considers this democratic and self-governing island of 24 million to be one of its historical provinces, even if it does not control it, and has increased pressure against Taipei in recent years, for example through campaigns incursions into the Taiwan Air Defense Zone. These actions have increased tensions with the United States, which are already high on many other levels.
“We will fight at all costs and we will fight until the end” to prevent Taiwan from declaring its independence, insisted on Sunday, Mr. Wei. ” This is the only possible choice for China”he added. “Those who pursue Taiwan independence with the aim of dividing China will certainly not achieve their ends”he said, adding that “no one should ever underestimate the determination and ability of the Chinese armed forces to safeguard its territorial integrity”.
China’s defense minister accused Washington of trying to “divert” the support of countries in the Asia-Pacific region to turn them against Beijing, saying that Washington seeks to advance its own interests “under the guise of multilateralism”.
The China Sea, another subject of tension
This dispute is only the latest between Washington and Beijing. The South China Sea is another major hotspot in the region. China claims almost all of this resource-rich sea, through which billions of dollars in maritime trade pass each year.
Mr. Wei insisted on Sunday that China respects the freedom of navigation and attacked Washington in a veiled way. “A certain great power has long practiced hegemony of navigation under the pretext of freedom of navigation”did he declare.
Wei also said that China, North Korea’s main ally, wants peace on the Korean Peninsula after a recent series of weapons tests. “The key to [résoudre] the problem now is to pay attention to the security interests of all parties and to satisfy them”did he declare.
Speaking at the summit on Sunday, South Korean Defense Minister Lee Jong-sup said Seoul would strengthen its defense capabilities and work with the United States against the threat from the North.
On the topic of nuclear weapons, Wei, when asked about reports of more than 100 new missile silos being built in eastern China, said Beijing had “always pursued an appropriate path to develop nuclear capabilities for the protection [du] country “. “China has been developing its capabilities for more than five decades. It is fair to say that there has been impressive progress”he launched. “China’s policy is consistent. We will use [ces armes] for our own defense. We will not be the first to use [armes] nuclear”, he added.
Last year, the US State Department called China’s nuclear development worrisome, saying it appeared Beijing was moving away from decades of nuclear strategy based on minimal deterrence.