On the sidelines of the annual Shangri La Dialogue in Singapore during an interaction on Friday, US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin warned his Chinese counterpart that Beijing must “refrain from further destabilizing actions towards Taiwan”.
According to The Hill, Austin met with his Chinese counterpart Gen. Wei Fenghe during the annual Shangri-La Dialogue, Pentagon stated in a statement, adding that he reiterated that the US remains committed to the longstanding one-China policy, which is guided by the Taiwan Relations Act, the Three US-China Joint Communiques, and the Six Assurances.
“The Secretary reaffirmed the importance of peace and stability across the Strait, opposition to unilateral changes to the status quo, and called on the PRC to refrain from further destabilizing actions toward Taiwan,” it added.
Tensions have grown in a severe manner between the US and China over Taiwan amid Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
US President Joe Biden stoked tensions during his first trip to Asia as president in May when he said that the US would be willing to defend Taiwan if China tried to invade. Two days later, China conducted a military drill near Taiwan.
The Wall Street Journal also reported last month that the defence chiefs were planning to meet during the dialogue, though nothing had been set in stone. Austin and Wei last spoke to each other by phone in April, which was the first conversation between the two officials.
On April 20, Austin and Wei spoke for about 45 minutes, marking the first time a US Defense Secretary had spoken to his Chinese counterpart since the Trump administration more than a year earlier.
Austin has repeatedly described China as the “pacing challenge” for the Defense Department and said that the Indo-Pacific region is the priority for the United States, even with Russia’s ongoing war in Ukraine.
The already tense relationship between Washington and Beijing boiled over earlier this week when a US congressional delegation visited Taiwan.
Beijing claims full sovereignty over Taiwan, a democracy of almost 24 million people located off the southeastern coast of mainland China, despite the fact that the two sides have been governed separately for more than seven decades.
Taipei, on the other hand, has countered the Chinese aggression by increasing strategic ties with democracies including the US, which has been repeatedly opposed by Beijing. China has threatened that “Taiwan’s independence” means war.
It is to be noted that China on Monday also sent 30 warplanes into Taiwan’s air defence identification zone, the highest daily figure in four months.
(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)