Chinese defense minister says ties with U.S. at critical juncture – Reuters

Chinese Defense Minister Wei Fenghe said on Sunday that it was up to the United States to improve bilateral relations, as relations were at a critical juncture.

Repeatedly reiterating at an Asian security meeting that China only seeks peace and stability, and is not an aggressor, he called on the United States to “strengthen solidarity and oppose to confrontation and division”.

He said China firmly rejects “American slanders, accusations and even threats” in Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin’s speech on Saturday.

“We ask the US side to stop smearing and containing China. Stop interfering in China’s internal affairs. Bilateral relations can only improve if the US side can do so,” Wei said. , wearing the uniform of a People’s Liberation Army general, at the Shangri-La Dialogue.

Read also : US denounces China’s ‘destabilizing’ military activity near Taiwan

Austin said on Saturday there had been an “alarming” increase in the number of unsafe and unprofessional encounters between Chinese planes and ships with those of other countries.

He added that the United States would stand with its allies, including Taiwan.

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine took center stage during the meeting, and Wei made a point of saying that China supports the peace talks and opposes “providing arms, applying pressure maximum”.

“What is the root cause of this crisis? Who is the mastermind behind all of this? Who loses the most? And who has the most to gain? Who promotes peace and who adds fuel to the fire? I think we all know the answers to these questions,” he said, without addressing them or stating China’s position.

In an address via video link on Saturday, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy warned delegates that the invasion of Ukraine threatened the rules-based order and put the whole world at risk of famine and food crisis.

Russia calls its actions in Ukraine a special operation which it says is not designed to occupy territory but to destroy the military capabilities of its southern neighbor and capture what it sees as dangerous nationalists.

Addressing the Taiwan issue, Wei said China’s position on the island, which Beijing considers a province, was unchanged.

He said the Chinese government was seeking “peaceful reunification” with Taiwan but was reserving “other options”.

“China will definitely achieve reunification,” Wei said. “Those who seek independence for Taiwan with the aim of dividing China will certainly come to no good.”

He noted that China has contributed to global efforts to fight COVID-19 and the country’s efforts to develop the South China Sea are peaceful.

“Countries, big and small, weak or powerful, are all equal,” he said. “We must respect each other and treat each other as equals.”

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