‘Don’t underestimate us’: China snubs US as DefSec rallies Asian allies against ‘Chinese threat’
Beijing has warned the US not to underestimate its resolve to protect its sovereignty, just as the acting Pentagon chief effectively accused China of undermining regional stability and urged allies to boost their defense budgets.
Amid unprecedented tensions between US and China, acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan held brief talks with Defense Minister Wei Fenghe on Friday in Singapore to discuss an array of security issues. The Chinese side used the opportunity to slam Washington’s repeated ‘freedom of navigation’ trips through the Taiwan Strait and urged the US to abide by the ‘one-China principle,’ which views the island nation as an integral part of the mainland.
“The Chinese side resolutely opposes the recent series of negative actions by the US on Taiwan issues,” Chinese defense ministry spokesman Senior Colonel Wu Qian said after the meeting.
The US side should not underestimate China’s determination and ability to safeguard its national sovereignty and territorial integrity.
While Shanahan firmly disagreed with Beijing’s assessment that US military endeavors half a world away from home are deliberately testing its patience and violating China’s sovereignty in the region, including the South China Sea, the two military leaders did agree to work on reducing tensions in the Pacific during their 20-minute discussion on the sidelines of the three-day Shangri-La Dialogue security summit.
Addressing regional defense chiefs during his speech the following morning, Shanahan was diplomatic in his approach and did not name names when slamming China’s growing influence in the region.
“Perhaps the greatest long-term threat to the vital interests of states across this region comes from actors who seek to undermine, rather than uphold, the rules-based international order,” the Pentagon’s chief said.
Shanahan explicitly warned Asian allies that their own sovereignty depends on whether they increase their security spending and purchase more (whose else?) American military tech, all in the name of curbing the supposed Chinese threat.
Amid the rising tensions in the Pacific, exacerbated by the Sino-American trade war, Chinese president Xi Jinping recently ordered his army to be prepared for a potential war. For now, the summit attendees eagerly await Wei’s speech on Sunday, where he is reportedly expected to slam United States’ bullish behavior in the Indo-Pacific.
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