On the sidelines of an Asian security summit in Singapore, Chinese Defense Minister Wei Fenghe met with his US counterpart Lloyd Austin.
Mr. Wei claimed that separating Taiwan from China would force the Chinese military to “fight at any cost.”
Mr. Austin later described China’s military activity as “provocative and destabilizing.”
He claimed that a record number of Chinese aircraft fly near the island on a daily basis, undermining “peace and stability in the region.”
China regards self-ruled Taiwan as an integral part of its territory, prompting Mr. Wei to condemn US arms sales to Taiwan.
“If anyone dares to split Taiwan from China, the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) will have no choice but to fight at any cost.”
“It will crush any attempt of ‘Taiwan independence’ and safeguard national sovereignty and territorial integrity,” he said, according to a spokesman.
Mr. Austin stated that the United States was committed to maintaining the status quo, recognizing Beijing as China’s sole government and opposing Taiwanese independence.
He insisted that no attempt at resolving tensions through force be made.
The first meeting of US and Chinese defense chiefs lasted nearly an hour. It took place at the Shangri-La Dialogue security summit.
Mr. Wei stated that the talks “went smoothly” and that both parties described them as cordial.
Mr. Austin stressed the importance of maintaining open communication lines with China’s military to avoid misunderstandings.
Taiwan announced in late May that it had deployed fighter jets to warn off 30 Chinese warplanes that had entered its air defense zone. The incident was the most significant Chinese incursion since January.
According to Taiwan’s defense ministry, the incident involved 22 Taiwanese fighters, electronic warfare, early warning, and anti-submarine aircraft.
Basics of China and Taiwan
• Why do China and Taiwan have such strained relations? China and Taiwan were separated during the 1940s civil war. But Beijing insists that the island will be brought back at some point, by force if necessary.
• What governs Taiwan? The island has its own constitution, democratically elected leaders, and a military force of approximately 300,000 active troops.
• Who acknowledges Taiwan? Taiwan is only recognized by a few countries. Instead, most people recognize the Chinese government in Beijing. The United States has no official relations with Taiwan, but the law requires it to provide the island with the means to defend itself.