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China is growing increasingly "coercive and hostile," according to the U.S. defence secretary

Image: Reuters Berita 24 English - On Saturday, U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin stated that the United States will do its bit to manage...

Image: Reuters

Berita 24 English - On Saturday, U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin stated that the United States will do its bit to manage tensions with China and prevent conflict, despite Beijing's growing aggressiveness in the Asian area, notably near Taiwan.

In recent months, relations between China and the United States have been tense, with the world's two largest economies battling over issues ranging from Taiwan and China's human rights record to its military action in the South China Sea.

Friday, at a meeting between Austin and Chinese Defence Minister Wei Fenghe, both parties reaffirmed their desire to better manage their relationship, despite the absence of any indication of a breakthrough in addressing disputes.

Speaking at Asia's top security conference, the Shangri-La Dialogue, Austin stated that the United States would continue to support its allies, including Taiwan.

"This is especially crucial when the PRC (People's Republic of China) adopts a more coercive and aggressive stance towards its territorial claims," he stated.

China claims Taiwan as its own territory and has pledged to conquer the island by force if necessary.

There has been a "alarming" increase in the number of hazardous and unprofessional interactions between Chinese aircraft and boats and those of other nations, according to Austin.

In May, a Chinese fighter jet intercepted an Australian military surveillance plane in the South China Sea, while the Canadian military has accused Chinese fighters of harassing its patrol aircraft as they monitor North Korea sanction evasions.

Taiwan has protested for years about recurrent Chinese air force incursions into its air defence identification zone, which is not territorial airspace but rather a larger area monitored for potential threats. Austin stated that the frequency of these incursions has increased in recent months.

Friday, Taiwan's foreign ministry praised the United States for its assistance and condemned China's "absurd" sovereignty claims.

"Taiwan has never been subject to the Chinese government's jurisdiction, and the Taiwanese people will not yield to the Chinese government's threats of force," said ministry spokeswoman Joanne Ou.

Austin stated that the United States would continue to resist unilateral changes to the status quo in Taiwan.

"Our policy remains the same. However, this does not appear to be the case for the PRC "Austin said.

Nonetheless, he continued, "We will do our part to carefully manage these tensions, to prevent confrontation, and to achieve peace and development."

Biden stated last month that the United States would intervene militarily if China attacked Taiwan; however, the administration has subsequently stressed that the United States' stance on the matter has not changed.

Washington has maintained a longstanding strategy of strategic ambiguity on Taiwan's military defence.

Taiwan predominated during Austin's meeting with Wei.

"Maintaining peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait is not solely in the United States' interest. It is an international issue "Austin said.


In a speech centred on the U.S. commitment to the region, Austin stated that the U.S. will continue a presence in Asia, but that Washington recognised the need to prevent conflict.

"We avoid confrontation and conflict. And we do not seek a new Cold War, an Asian NATO, or the fragmentation of the area into antagonistic blocs "he said.

The invasion of Ukraine by Russia has been a top focus in Washington and other Western capitals for the past three months.

Austin stated, "Russia's invasion of Ukraine is what occurs when tyrants disregard the laws that protect us all." It is a glimpse of a hypothetical world of chaos and conflict in which none of us would choose to reside.

Later on Saturday, President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelenskiy was set to address the Shangri-La Dialogue in a virtual session.

Washington stated earlier this year that China was set to aid Russia in its war against Ukraine.

Since then, however, U.S. officials have stated that while they continue to be concerned about China's longstanding support for Russia in general, the military and economic help that they feared has not materialised, at least for the time being.

China has not criticised Russia's attack and does not consider it an invasion, but it has advocated for a peaceful settlement. Beijing and Moscow have grown closer over the past few years; in February, they forged a broad strategic alliance geared at opposing U.S. influence and said that there would be "no 'forbidden' areas of cooperation".

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