Singapore, Jun 4 (EFE).- Chinese Defense Minister Li Shangfu said Saturday at a security forum in Singapore that his country doesn’t rule out using force to take Taiwan, amid new tensions with the United States.
“Taiwan is at the center of China’s interests. It is an internal and indisputable matter. It is up to China to decide how to resolve it,” Li said Sunday during a speech at the Shangri-La Dialogue, Asia’s most important annual security forum, in which his American counterpart Lloyd Austin is also participating.
Li’s comments come amid new tensions in the Taiwan Strait and after Austin’s words Saturday at the same forum, where he said the US, which supplies the island with weapons and would theoretically defend it in the event of attack, “will continue to categorically oppose a change in the (Taiwan) status quo by either party.”
A Chinese military ship maneuvered dangerously within 137 meters of the US destroyer USS Chung-Hoon as it conducted joint exercises with the Canadian Navy near Taiwan, amid rising tensions between Washington and Beijing, Canada’s Global News reported.
Asked about the near collision the day before, Li denounced Sunday in the forum that “it is not about innocent crossings, but about provocations.”
The Chinese defense minister, who took office in March, indirectly criticized the US for being “responsible” for the instability in the Taiwan Strait.
Li said that the more maneuvers of this type, “the more decisive we will be in our response. All interference will fail (…) China must be and will be reunified.”
The minister said that, although the intention is for it to be a “peaceful reunification,” China does not renounce the use of force “regardless of the cost if there are provocations.”
“I want to ask a question. Why do these incidents occur in areas near China and not other countries? I think it is because Chinese ships do not carry out hegemonic actions in other countries (…) As we always say: take care, mind your business and watch your own neighborhood.”
On the other hand, the Chinese minister did not address questions about complaints from neighboring countries, such as the Philippines, about the presence of Chinese ships in its territorial waters, while Beijing claims almost the entire resource-rich South China Sea.
Despite the sometimes stern tone of the speech, Li also introduced China as a force for peace, saying “China and the US should manage their differences and find a way to get along.”
Although he added that his country is “open” to communication with the US side, he stressed that “if there is no mutual respect, dialogue is not productive.”
“The correct path is mutual respect, peaceful coexistence and the development of the two parties,” Li said, after Beijing’s refusal to meet on the sidelines of the Shangri-La Dialogue with Austin.
Although Li did not refer to it specifically, one of the main stumbling blocks for the bilateral meeting is that he was sanctioned in 2018 by the United States, accused of buying weapons from the Russian state company Rosoboronexport. EFE