China’s defense minister supported the cruiseAnd a Canadian warship transiting the Taiwan Strait, a meeting of some of the world’s top defense officials in Singapore on Sunday said such “freedom of navigation” patrols are provoking China.
The Chinese warship USS Chung-hoon and HMCS Montreal intercepted the ships on Saturday as they passed through the strait between the self-governing island of Taiwan and the Chinese mainland. According to the US Indo-Pacific Command, the Chinese vessel overtook the US ship and then passed “unsafely” across its bow by 150 yards.
The US guided-missile destroyer slowed to 10 knots to avoid a collision, the command said in a statement.
In his first international public address since becoming defense minister in March, General Li Shangfu said at the Shangri-La Dialogue that China had no problem with the “path of innocence” but that “we must prevent attempts to use that freedom”. Navigation (patrols), that innocent passage, to exercise the supremacy of navigation.”
US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin told the same forum on Saturday that Washington “will not tolerate bullying or coercion” from China and will continue to travel and fly through the Taiwan Strait and South China Sea to assert that they are international waters. countering Beijing’s broader territorial claims.
Late last month, the US said it was China’s J-16 fighter jet.“A US Air Force spy plane was intercepted in the South China Sea, flying straight into the nose of the plane.
Those and previous incidents have raised concerns about a potential accident leading to escalation between the two countries at a time..
Li suggested that the US and its allies have created a danger and should instead focus on “taking good care of your own airspace and waters”.
“The best option is for countries, especially their naval ships and warplanes, not to conduct closing operations around the borders of other countries,” he said through a translator. “What’s the point of going there? In China we always say, ‘Mind your own business’.”
In a wide-ranging speech, Li reiterated many of Beijing’s well-known positions, including its claim on Taiwan, which he called “the center of our core interests.”
He accused the US and others of “interfering in China’s internal affairs” by providing security support and training to Taiwan and making high-level diplomatic visits.
“China is committed to the path of peaceful development, but we will never hesitate to protect our legitimate rights and interests, let alone sacrifice the country’s core interests,” he said.
“As the lyrics of a well-known Chinese song say: ‘When friends visit us, we welcome them with good wine. When jackals or wolves come, we meet them with guns.'”
In his speech earlier in the day, Austin broadly outlined the US vision for a “free, open and secure Indo-Pacific within a world of rules and rights”.
Austin said the U.S. has stepped up planning, coordination and training “with friends from the East China Sea to the South China Sea to the Indian Ocean” to deter aggression and deepen rules and regulations. It promotes prosperity and prevents conflict.”
Li scoffed at the idea, saying, “Some countries take a selective approach to rules and international laws.”
“It wants to impose its own rules on others,” he said. “The so-called rules-based international order never tells you what the rules are and who made these rules.”
Instead, he said, “We embrace diversity and pursue win-win cooperation.”
Li is under U.S. sanctions imposed in 2018 over Li’s involvement in China’s purchase of fighter jets and anti-aircraft missiles from Moscow as part of a broader package of measures against Russia — but prior to its invasion of Ukraine.
U.S. defense officials have said the sanctions, which broadly bar Li from doing business in the U.S., have not prevented him from holding official talks.
However, he declined Austin’s invitation to speak on the sidelines of the conference, although the two sat on opposite sides of the same table and shook hands when the forum opened Friday.
Austin said that wasn’t enough.
“A warm handshake over dinner is no substitute for a major engagement,” Austin said.
Since 2021 — before Li became defense minister — China has refused or failed to respond to more than a dozen requests from the U.S. Defense Department to speak with senior leaders, as well as numerous requests for stand-alone talks and working-level engagements.
“China is open to communication between our two countries and our two militaries,” Li said, but without mentioning sanctions, said exchanges should be “on the basis of mutual respect.”
“It’s a very basic principle,” he said. “If we don’t even have mutual respect, our communications are ineffective.”
He said he recognized that “any serious confrontation or confrontation between China and the United States would be an intolerable disaster for the world” and said the two countries should find ways to improve relations.
“History has proven time and time again that China and the United States will benefit from cooperation and lose from conflict,” he said.
“China is seeking to build a new type of big-country relationship with the US. For the US side, it should act with sincerity, match its words with actions, and take concrete measures with China to stabilize relations and prevent further deterioration,” Li said.