Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin this week warned his Chinese counterpart to back off on Taiwan, telling him China must “refrain from further destabilizing actions”.
Austin and China’s Minister of National Defense General Wei Fenghe met face to face for the first time on Friday at the Shangri-La Dialogue in Singapore, the defense ministry said in a statement.
“The Secretary reiterated to General Wei that the United States remains committed to our long-standing one-China policy, which is guided by the Taiwan Relations Act, the Three Joint U.S.-China Communiques, and the Six Assurances “, read the press release from the Ministry of Defense.
“The Secretary reaffirmed the importance of peace and stability across the Strait, opposition to unilateral changes to the status quo, and called on the PRC to refrain from further destabilizing actions toward Taiwan.”
The “one China” policy refers to the US position that the communist government in Beijing is the sole legal authority over the Asian nation and recognizes – but does not accept – its claim that Taiwan is part of China. .
Under the Taiwan Relations Act of 1979, the United States is not required to defend Taiwan militarily, but is required to ensure that Taiwan has the resources necessary to defend itself.
During the meeting, the two leaders discussed defense relations and security issues between the United States and the People’s Republic of China (PRC), as well as the need to maintain open lines of communication.
Austin also reportedly discussed various global security issues regarding North Korea and Russia’s brutal invasion of Ukraine.
The talks between Austin and Wei come as tensions over Taiwan’s future continue to grow.
During his first trip to Asia as president in May, President Biden vowed the United States would come to Taiwan’s aid if the island nation was attacked by Beijing – but the White House quickly backtracked on those remarks, saying that American policy had not changed.
“That’s the commitment we made. We agree with the “one China” policy. We signed it,” Biden said at the time. “All the chords that come with it [were] made from there. But the idea that it can be taken by force, just taken by force. It’s just not – it’s just not appropriate.
The Chinese Foreign Ministry quickly retaliated with “strong displeasure and firm opposition”.
“No one should underestimate the strong determination, firm will and strong ability of the Chinese people to uphold national sovereignty and territorial integrity, and not oppose the 1.4 billion Chinese,” said the Department of Foreign Affairs, according to CNBC.
Austin and Wei first officially spoke on the phone during a 45-minute call in April, during which they also discussed the “defense relationship” between the United States and China.
Their face-to-face meeting was highly anticipated after a May Wall Street Journal report said the two leaders would be present at the Shangri-La dialogue.
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