Chinese Defence Minister Warns Against Taiwan Independence at Singapore Forum

Chinese Defence Minister Dong Jun warned on Sunday that China’s military is prepared to “forcefully” prevent Taiwan’s independence but also called for increased exchanges with the United States.

Speaking at the annual Shangri-La Dialogue in Singapore, Dong’s comments came after his first substantial talks with US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin in 18 months.

“We have always been open to cooperation, but this requires mutual effort,” Dong said. He emphasized the need for more exchanges due to the differences between the two militaries.

Dong and Austin met for over an hour at the forum, which has become a key indicator of US-China relations. Austin later announced that military commanders from both countries would resume telephone conversations soon, while Beijing praised the stabilizing security relations.

The dialogue follows recent Chinese military drills around Taiwan and warnings of war over the US-backed island, especially after the inauguration of Taiwan President Lai Ching-te, whom Beijing views as a separatist.

Dong declared, “The Chinese People’s Liberation Army will act decisively to prevent Taiwan’s independence,” adding that any attempt to split Taiwan from China would result in destruction.

Taipei criticized Dong’s remarks as “irrational” and reiterated its commitment to peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait.

Regarding the South China Sea, Dong warned of the limits to Beijing’s restraint amid ongoing confrontations with Philippine vessels.

Amidst efforts to ease tensions, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken recently visited Beijing and Shanghai. Restoring military dialogue is seen as crucial to preventing disputes from escalating.

Military communications were halted in 2022 after then-US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan, further strained by incidents such as the downing of a Chinese spy balloon over US airspace and American military aid to Taiwan.

China also opposes the US’s increased defense ties in the Asia-Pacific, viewing it as a containment strategy. High-level military talks, including those on operations near Taiwan, Japan, and the South China Sea, were agreed upon after a summit between Chinese leader Xi Jinping and US President Joe Biden last November.


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