‘War with US Would Be a Disaster,’ Says Chinese Defence Minister 

China warned the US to not interfere in matters related to security over the South China Sea and Taiwan.

3 min read
Chinese Defense Minister Gen. Wei Fenghe salutes attendees ahead of the fourth plenary session of the 18th International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS) Shangri-la Dialogue, an annual defense and security forum in Asia, in Singapore, Sunday, June 2, 2019. 

Chinese Defence Minister Wei Fenghe on Sunday, 2 June criticised the United States for its alleged support to Taiwan and the naval operations in the conflicted South China Sea. He further said that a war between China and US would prove to be a disaster, reported Reuters.

Speaking at the Shangri-La Dialogue, Asia’s premier defence summit in Singapore, the defence minister warned US not to interfere in matters related to security over the South China Sea and Taiwan. He said that if anyone tried to split China and Taiwan, it would “fight to the end.”

“No attempts to split China will succeed. Any interference in the Taiwan question is doomed to failure,” said Wei, dressed in uniform of People’s Liberation Army, as quoted by Reuters.

On Saturday, 1 June, acting US Defence Secretary Patrick Shanahan said that US would not “tiptoe” around China’s behaviour in Asia anymore.

“Some countries from outside the region come to the South China Sea to flex muscles in the name of freedom of navigation,” said Wei, as quoted by Reuters. Though he said that China would fight till the end if US was keen on fighting over trade issues, he added that it was open to talks if Washington was.

China has recently been infuriated by the Trump’s administration’s moves related to increasing support for self-ruled Taiwan. These moves include the US Navy sailing via the Taiwan Strait which separates the island of Taiwan from China.

Although, like most nations, US has no formal alliance with Taiwan, the island is its key source of weapons. Meanwhile, Taiwan condemned the Chinese defence minister’s comments and asserted that the island of Taiwan never belonged to China and therefore would not fall for Beijing’s warnings and threats, reported Reuters. Further, Taiwan called China’s claim of “peaceful development,” the “lie of the century.”

In a statement, Taiwan’s Mainland Affairs Council said, “Will continue to strengthen its self-defense capabilities, defend the country’s sovereignty and democratic system, and uphold the right of the 23 million people of Taiwan to freely choose their future,” reported Reuters.

Tiananmen Anniversary

Taiwan is preparing for its presidential elections to be held in January 2020. Tsai Ing-wen, Taiwan president has time and again accused Beijing of wanting to weaken the island’s democracy and has further pledged to protect its freedom.

This week will mark the completion of 30 years since a Chinese military cracked down on protesters around Beijing’s Tiananmen Square.

While Wei answered questions from the floor, he reportedly defended the Chinese government’s handling of the Tiananmen “incident.” This was an uncommon official acknowledgement of the events that took place on 4 June, 1989, references to which are censored to a great extent in China.

As per Reuters, he said, “The government was decisive in stopping the turbulence. Due to this, China has enjoyed stability, and if you visit China you can understand that part of history.”

Tensions over trade between US and China have increased since the US administration charged China of having reportedly “reneged” on its earlier promises of making structural modifications to its economic practices. Later, Washington slammed extra tariffs of up to 25 percent on $200 billion worth of Chinese goods, instigating Beijing to react.

(With inputs from Reuters)

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