Chinese Official Hits Back After US Defense Secretary Accuses Beijing of ‘Bullying’
00:45 GMT 04.06.2023 (Updated: 12:46 GMT 19.06.2023)
After failing to secure a face-to-face meeting with the Chinese Defense Minister at a security summit in Singapore, the US Defense Secretary is raising eyebrows by accusing the PRC of “bullying.”
A senior Chinese military figure is pushing back after US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin accused China
of “coercion and bullying” while insisting that Washington is actually pursuing dialogue rather than conflict and wants to maintain the status quo in terms of Taiwan.
“We do not seek conflict or confrontation,” Austin told audiences at the Shangri-La Dialogue, while describing US tensions with Beijing. “But we will not flinch in the face of bullying or coercion.”
In the speech, Austin signaled
that the US Navy will continue to sail warships just a few dozen miles off China’s coast
, among other provocative military maneuvers.
“We are committed to ensuring that every country can fly, sail and operate wherever international law allows,” he said, adding, “every country, large or small, must remain free to conduct lawful maritime activities.”
The US portrays its military voyages through the Luzon Strait as ‘freedom of navigation exercises,’ but Chinese officials view them differently.
In remarks given hours after Austin’s speech, Beijing’s vice chief for the Central Military Commission’s Joint Staff Department, Lieutenant General Jing Jianfeng, told the summit that the US military frequently transits through the Taiwan Strait “to flex muscles” and compels other countries to “interfere in the Taiwan question.”
Jianfeng singled out Austin in particular, who he accused of attempting to “pull out of Beijing’s one-China principle” and said was “seriously distorting the facts and truth” of Taiwan’s status.
“The US’ comments on Taiwan ignore the facts, distort the truth and are completely wrong,” Jing told reporters on the sidelines of the summit. “First, there’s only one China in the world, and Taiwan is a sacred and inalienable part of Chinese territory.”
“Second, the one-China principle represents the consensus of the international community. “Third, it is the common aspiration and sacred responsibility of all Chinese people, including our Taiwan compatriots, to complete the reunification of the motherland.”
The annual security forum, named after the Shangri-La Hotel in Singapore where it’s hosted each year, features high-ranking defense officials from dozens of countries in Asia.
Though the US is technically located thousands of miles away from the continent, it has nonetheless attended every Shangri-La Dialogue since the inaugural summit in 2002, a habit mocked by America’s best-known satirical newspaper, which on Friday published the sardonic headline
: “Embarrassed U.S. Excuses Itself From Asia Security Summit After Realizing America Not In Asia.”