(Reuters) – Chinese Defense Minister Wei Fenghe said on Sunday it was up to the United States to improve bilateral relations as they reached a critical point.
Repeating repeatedly that China only seeks peace and stability and is not an aggressor, the Chinese defense minister called on the United States to “strengthen solidarity and oppose confrontation and the division”.
Speaking at the Shangri-La Dialogue, an international conference on Asia-Pacific defense and security being held in Singapore, Wei Fenghe said China firmly rejects “disparagements, accusations and even threats ( made by the) United States” during the speech given on Saturday by the American Secretary of Defense, Lloyd Austin.
“We ask the US side to stop denigrating and containing China. Stop interfering in China’s internal affairs. Bilateral relations cannot improve if the United States does not do this,” he said. said Wei Fenghe.
Lloyd Austin said there had been an “alarming” increase in the number of unsecured and unprofessional encounters between Chinese planes and ships and those of other countries, adding that the United States would stand by its allies, including Taiwan.
Addressing in turn the issue of Taiwan, Wei Fenghe said China’s position on the island, which Beijing considers one of its provinces, remains unchanged. He added that the Chinese government wanted “peaceful reunification” with Taiwan but reserved “other options”.
“China will definitely achieve reunification,” Wei Fenghe said. “Those who seek independence for Taiwan with the aim of dividing China will certainly achieve no good.”
UKRAINE INVITES ITSELF INTO THE DEBATES
Russia’s invasion of Ukraine came into the discussion and Wei Fenghe insisted that China supports the peace talks and opposes “providing arms, and exerting maximum pressure”.
“What is the root cause of this crisis? Who is the mastermind behind all of this? Who is the biggest loser? And who has the most to gain? Who is promoting peace and who is adding fuel to the fire? I think that we all know the answers to these questions,” he said, without addressing them or stating China’s position.
In a speech delivered Saturday via video link, Ukrainian President Volodimir Zelensky said the invasion of Ukraine threatened the rules-based order and risked causing famines and food crises around the world.
Russia says it has launched a “special operation” to destroy its neighbor’s military capabilities and eliminate what it sees as dangerous nationalists in Kyiv.
(Report Chen Lin, written by Gerry Doyle; French version Camille Raynaud)