Beijing, Aug 7 (efe-epa).- Chinese Defense Minister Wei Fenghe told his United States counterpart Mark Esper on Thursday to “avoid undertaking dangerous movements” that could lead to an escalation in the South China Sea, in the eve of the highest-ranking visit by an American leader to Taiwan in the past 41 years.
In a phone conversation held on Esper’s proposal, Wei stressed China’s “principled position” on various issues, including the South China Sea, Taiwan, and the “stigmatization” of China by the United States, according to state agency Xinhua News.
According to the official source, Esper told Wei that, amid the tensions between the two powers, the military of both countries “must maintain dialogue and consultation to manage crises, avoid misunderstandings and reduce risks.”
The US Secretary of Health and Human Services Alex Azar will visit Taiwan on Sunday in what represents the highest-level visit since 1979 by an American politician to the island, whose sovereignty is claimed by Beijing.
This visit represents a further step in Washington’s current policy aimed at increasing tensions with China on virtually all fronts: trade, technological competition, the coronavirus pandemic, human rights or the situation in the South China Sea.
The Taiwan issue is especially sensitive for Beijing, which has referred to it in the past as the “most sensitive and important” in its relationship with the United States.
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin said Thursday that “any attempt to deny or challenge the ‘one China’ principle,” which considers Taiwan part of the People’s Republic of China (PRC), “will end in failure.”
“China will adopt strong countermeasures in response to US behavior,” said Wang, referring to the visit by the US Secretary of Health.
The Pentagon chief and the Chinese defense minister “exchanged views on bilateral military relations, as well as exchanges in the next phase” in their Thursday telephone conversation, according to Xinhua.
“Wei urged the US to cease its erroneous words and deeds, improve the management and control of maritime risks, avoid carrying out dangerous movements that could escalate the situation and safeguard regional peace and stability.”
In June, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and the head of International Relations of the Chinese Communist Party Yang Jiechi met on the US island of Hawaii, although there were no great advances in those contacts, according to Chinese media reports. EFE-EPA