The United States is responsible for rising tensions in the Pacific, and the US Indo-Pacific strategy will only further divide the region and is ultimately “doomed to failure”, a Chinese military official said on Sunday.
The scathing comments by Chinese Lt. Gen. Zhang Zhenzhong came just hours after US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin spoke at the high-level Shari-La dialogue in Singapore and blasted “military activity provocative and destabilizing force of China near Taiwan”. The normally reserved Mr Austin scathingly chastised China’s rapidly growing military footprint across the Pacific, particularly its recent military aircraft overflights near Taiwan.
These and other Chinese actions, Austin said, have led to heightened tensions in the region. He promised that the United States would help maintain “peace and stability” in the Pacific and continue to provide aid to the Taiwan Defense Forces.
But General Zhang defended his army’s position in the Pacific and said the United States was wading into dangerous territory by playing the “Taiwan card” at every opportunity.
“The Taiwan issue is the issue that could most easily lead China-US relations to conflict. Mishandling the Taiwan issue will have a destructive impact on bilateral relations. The People’s Liberation Army is always ready to resolutely safeguard national sovereignty, security and territorial integrity at all costs,” said General Zhang, deputy chief of the Joint Staff Department at the Central Military Commission of China. China.
“The US Indo-Pacific strategy is a strategy that runs counter to historical trends and the prevailing will of countries in the region. It only serves the United States’ own interests and is therefore doomed to failure,” General Zhang said, according to China Daily.
“The United States is the greatest source of instability in the international order, the behind-the-scenes manipulator of global unrest, and a dangerous threat to regional peace and stability,” he said.
His comments echoed those of Defense Minister General Wei Fenghe, who suggested that the US strategy was an attempt to put China in a corner.
“No country should impose its will on others or bully others under the guise of multilateralism,” he said. “The strategy is an attempt to build an exclusive small group in the name of a free and open Indo-Pacific to hijack countries in our region and target a specific country – it is a strategy to create conflicts and confrontations to contain and surround the others.”
Last year, US officials accused China of testing a hypersonic missile, a more difficult weapon for missile defense systems to counter, but China insisted it was a “test routine of a spacecraft”.
Responding to a question about the test on Sunday, General Wei came the closest so far to acknowledging that it was indeed a hypersonic missile, saying: “When it comes to hypersonic weapons, many countries are developing weapons and I think it is not surprising that China is doing so.”
“China will develop its military,” he added. “I think it’s natural.”
He said China’s “greatest wish” was a “peaceful reunification” with Taiwan, but also said Beijing was ready to do whatever it took to achieve its goals.
“China will definitely achieve reunification,” he said. “China’s reunification is a great cause of the Chinese nation, and it is a historic trend that no one or any force can stop.”
General Wei and Mr. Austin met one-on-one on Saturday, and Taiwan figured prominently in their discussions, according to US officials.
– This article includes wire service reports.
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