US and Chinese defense ministers stand firm on Taiwan

SINGAPORE (Reuters) – The U.S. and Chinese defense ministers remained firm on their positions on Taiwan on Friday in their first face-to-face meeting since the start of Joe Biden’s presidency.

US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin and Chinese Minister of National Defense General Wei Fenghe spoke on the sidelines of the “Shangri-La Dialogue” Asian security forum for nearly an hour. , i.e. double the time initially planned for their interview.

Although the two sides have said they want to better manage their relations, the positions of Beijing and Washington remain polarized around several volatile security situations, from Taiwan sovereignty to military activity in the South China Sea, including the invasion. of Ukraine by Russia.

After the meeting, Chinese and American officials stressed the cordiality of the debates, a sign that they could open the door to increased communication between their two armies.

However, there is no indication that there has been a breakthrough in resolving long-standing security disputes.

According to Wei Fenghei, the talks went “smoothly” and a spokesman for the Chinese Ministry of Defense later added that he had reiterated Beijing’s firm position on Taiwan, which is that the island is part of the China.

Lloyd Austin, for his part, called on China to “refrain from any further destabilizing action” towards Taiwan, according to a Washington statement released after the interview.

China, which claims territory from Taiwan, has increased its military activity near the island over the past two years in response to what it calls “collusion” between Taipei and Washington.

(Report Idrees Ali; French version Alizée Degorce, edited by Kate Entringer)

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