China and the United States have clashed again on trade and security, accusing each other of destabilising the region and potentially the world.
Speaking at the Shangri-La Dialogue in Singapore, China’s defence minister Wei Fenghe warned the United States not to meddle in security disputes over Taiwan and the South China Sea, Star Online reported.
US defence secretary Patrick Shanahan on Saturday said that the United States would no longer “tiptoe” around Chinese behaviour in Asia.
“Perhaps the greatest long-term threat to the vital interests of states across this region comes from actors who seek to undermine, rather than uphold, the rules-based international order,” Shanahan said.
China has been particularly incensed by recent moves by President Donald Trump’s administration to increase support for self-ruled and democratic Taiwan, including US Navy sailings through the Taiwan Strait that separates the island from China.
Wei, dressed in his uniform of a general in the People’s Liberation Army, said China would “fight to the end” if anyone tried to interfere in its relationship with Taiwan, which Beijing considers a sacred territory to be taken by force if necessary.
“If anyone dares to split Taiwan from China, the Chinese military has no choice but to fight at all costs … The U.S. is indivisible, and so is China. China must be, and will be, reunified.”
He however said both sides realised that any war between the two “would bring disaster to both countries and the world.”
The United States, like most countries, has no formal ties with Taiwan, but is its strongest backer and main source of weapons.
While Shanahan’s speech was critical of China, his tone was often conciliatory. Wei took a more combative approach.
Taiwan’s government condemned Wei’s remarks, saying Taiwan has never belonged to the People’s Republic of China, that Taiwan would never accept Beijing’s threats and that China’s claim of its “peaceful development” was the “lie of the century”.