After meeting Chinese Defense Minister Wei Fenghe, US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin criticized Beijing’s “provocative and destabilizing” military activity near Taiwan.
Highlighting China’s growing aggression across the Asia-Pacific region, Austin said the United States would continue to stand with its allies.
In an address to the Shangri-La Dialogue Security Summit in Singapore, Austin “We have witnessed a steady increase in provocative and destabilizing military activity near Taiwan.”
“That includes (Chinese military) planes flying near Taiwan in record numbers in recent months, and almost daily,” he said.
“We categorically oppose any unilateral change to the status quo on either side,” he added.
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China, which claims autonomy from Taiwan, warned Austin that it was ready to go to war if the island declared independence.
Denouncing China’s “absurd” claims of sovereignty, the Taiwanese foreign ministry thanked the United States for its support.
Calling Austin’s speech a “confrontation,” Lt. Gen. Zhang Zhenzhong, vice chief of the Joint Staff Department of China’s Central Military Commission, said, “There were many baseless accusations against China; we have expressed our deep dissatisfaction and our firm opposition to these false accusations. “
With increasing Chinese military aircraft incursions into the island’s Air Defense Identification Zone (ADIZ), tensions over Taiwan have escalated between the United States and China.
(With agency contributions)
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