Chinese Defense Minister Gen. Wei Fenghe on Sunday strongly rejected the United States’ claims about Bejing’s actions on the global stage, saying that the U.S. is pushing for confrontation and trying to encircle China.
Speaking at the International Institute of Strategic Studies Shangri-La Dialogue, Wei warned that China “would fight to the very end” should anyone dare to secede Taiwan from China.
In opening his speech, titled China’s Vision For Regional Order, Wei referred to U.S. Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin’s speech on Saturday, saying he disagreed with some of the points Austin made and firmly rejected the United States’ “smearing accusations and even threats against China.” Making an oblique reference to the U.S., Wei called upon countries to reject exclusive blocs, confrontation, containment and decoupling. “building high walls around one’s turf and forming parallel systems can only split the world and undermined the shared interests of all countries,” said Wei.
Wei also argued global affairs should be handled through consultations by all stakeholders, instead of one country or a small group of countries dictating, adding that no one and no country should impose its will on others or bully others under the guise of multilateralism. The Chinese Defense Minister went on to state that China had noticed Austin’s remarks on the U.S. Indo-Pacific strategy and China. The U.S. strategy is an attempt to build an exclusive small group in the name of a free and open Indo-Pacific, to hijack countries in China’s region and target one specific country, he said. Wei charged that the U.S Indo-Pacific strategy is a way to create conflict and confrontation, and to contain and encircle others. He then said China held that for any strategy to be viable, it should adapt to the historic and global trends and contribute to regional peace and security and the shared interest of all.
Wei said nations should uphold the rule of law, oppose unilateral action and that the order of human civilization must be based on the rule of law, otherwise the law of the jungle will prevail. Continuing to obliquely refer to the United States, Wei said nations should not interfere in other nations’ internal affairs, a veiled reference to China’s claims on Taiwan, which China considers as a national internal affair. He added that unilateral sanctions and long-arm jurisdictions should be rejected. Wei went on to say that a country is not in a position to champion any international rule or order if it only follows rules that fits its interest.
“Minds others’ family business with its own domestic rules,” he said, a reference to the U.S. Taiwan Relations Act. “Or binds or even attacks others with a convention it has not acceded to itself”, he added, a clear reference to the U.S.’s non-accession to the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS).
Wei subsequently talked up China’s position on the global stage, saying that as a responsible major country, it will continue to contribute its share to building world peace, promoting global development, safeguarding international order and providing public goods. Wei added that China would not seek hegemony, engage in military expansion nor participate in arms races.
In regard to Taiwan, Wei said it is an internal affair of China and China will definitely realize its peaceful reunification, which China is making every effort to achieve. He added that those who attempt to pursue Taiwan independence in an effort to split China “will definitely come to no good end,” adding that the ruling Democratic Progressive Party of China was a pawn of anti-China foreign groups who would be used and abandoned by their master.
Noting that the U.S. previously fought a Civil War for unity, Wei said that though China never wants such a civil war, it would resolutely crush any attempt to pursue Taiwan independence.
“Let me make this clear, if anyone dares to secede Taiwan from China, we would not hesitate to fight, we will fight at all costs and we will fight to the very end, this is the only choice for China,” he said.
Wei then said any foreign interference is doomed to failure and “some country” had violated its promise on the One China principle, connived and supported the moves of separatist forces for Taiwan independence and that that country cited its Taiwan Relations Act, using its domestic law to interfere in the domestic affairs of another country. He added, “ I want to make it clear to those seeking Taiwan independence and those behind them, the pursuit of Taiwan independence is a dead end, and stop the delusion.”
On the South China Sea, Wei said China is on the course for turning the South China Sea into a sea of peace, friendship and cooperation. Wei went on to say that the joint efforts of China and The Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) are leading to greater stability in the South China Sea. Wei said freedom of navigation is not under threat in the South China Sea, given China is one of the biggest beneficiaries of it, saying that China’s economy would hardly grow if it did not have freedom of navigation. Wei then said some big power practiced navigation hegemony on the pretext of freedom of navigation and “flexed muscles by sending warships and warplanes on a rampage in the South China Sea.” Wei then called upon nations in the region to be vigilant and prevent countries from outside the region from meddling in the region and turning the South China Sea into troubled waters.
The United States routinely performs freedom of navigation operations and strait transits in the South China Sea and surrounding waters. China frequently protests these movements, as it has staked claims to islands like the Paracel Islands.
Wei initially took a conciliatory tone when discussing China-U.S. relations, saying that a stable China-U.S. relationship serves the interests of both countries and the rest of the world. But he then called on the U.S. to stop smearing and containing China, stop interfering in China’s internal affairs and stop harming China’s interests. Wei said China is willing to talk, as long as discussions are conducted with mutual respect. But if the U.S. wants confrontation, China would fight to the end. Wei then said that the Chinese and U.S. militaries should make efforts to maintain stable bilateral relationships and prevent miscalculations.
On Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Wei said China deeply regrets and was greatly saddened by developments there, but then went on to allude that countries looking to gain from the situation brought on the conflict. He added that China did not believe maximum pressure or sanctions would resolve the Ukraine situation. During the question and answer session, Wei said, “China has never provided material support to Russia” in regard to Ukraine.