uS Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin has warned China against military action against Taiwan. “A cross-strait conflict would be devastating,” Austin said Saturday at the Shangri-La Dialogue in Singapore — an annual security conference. Such an escalation would affect the global economy “in ways we cannot imagine.”
Federal Defense Minister Boris Pistorius is also taking part in the forum in the city-state as part of a trip to Asia, which is attended by defense politicians and experts. Upon arrival, the SPD politician pleaded for an expansion of German engagement in the Indo-Pacific region, which plays a central role due to its economic and security policy importance.
In view of the threat posed by China and its disputed territorial claims, particularly in the South China Sea, the US Secretary of Defense highlighted the US’ increasing security cooperation with countries in the region. The United States advocated a “free, open and secure Indo-Pacific” – with freedom of navigation and overflight for all countries.
No country alone should claim control of shared sea lanes, Austin said. The 2016 judgment of the Arbitration Court in The Hague, which rejected China’s claims in the South China Sea, is legally binding. The US has supported its allies in the region to resist coercive measures by China. “We do not seek conflict or confrontation,” Austin said. “But we will not shy away from harassment and coercion.”
This is particularly important in the Taiwan Strait straits, the Pentagon chief explained. The US rejected a “unilateral change in the status quo” from either side. In his view, however, a conflict is “neither imminent nor inevitable”. In any case, the US is determined to preserve peace and security in the Taiwan Strait, which is so important for global shipping and trade.
China regards Taiwan as part of the People’s Republic. However, the democratic island republic with a population of 23 million has had an independent government for more than seven decades.
China doesn’t want to promise anything
After his arrival in Singapore, China’s new Defense Minister Li Shangfu again threatened to conquer Taiwan: “We will never promise to refrain from using force,” Chinese state media quoted him as saying. “China must be united.”
Austin expressed concern at the lack of communication between major powers China and the US, whose relations have hit rock bottom. Open communication links are particularly important for the armed forces and defense politicians on both sides, Austin said. “The right time for discussions is now.”
Referring to a passing encounter with General Li Shangfu the night before, Austin said, “A cordial handshake over dinner is no substitute for a factual argument.” The Chinese side had declined his request to speak with their counterpart on the sidelines of the conference. One point of contention is that the US imposed sanctions on the general in 2018, which Beijing is calling for to be lifted.
The United States remains committed to its one-China policy, according to which the leadership in Beijing is recognized as China’s legitimate government, Austin assured. At the same time, they wanted to preserve the status quo and adhere to the obligations under the US Taiwan Relations Act, which aims to promote Taiwan’s defense capabilities. So far, this has mainly meant arms deliveries. However, US President Joe Biden has repeatedly pledged that US troops would also come to Taiwan’s aid in the event of a Chinese attack.
#warns #China #attack #Taiwan