Washington Must Respect Beijing's Core Interests, Chinese Defense Minister Says
Sino-American relations have been strained in recent months as American politicians have visited Taiwan despite the objections of Beijing, which views the island as an inalienable part of China.
US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin and his Chinese counterpart Wei Fenghe are meeting in Siem Reap, Cambodia, on the sidelines of an Association of Southeast Asian Nations' defense ministers Meeting-Plus (ADMM-Plus). Austin urged China to avoid "destabilizing actions" toward Taiwan. He stressed the importance of maintaining a dialogue between the two countries in order to reduce risks.
"Secretary Austin and General Wei discussed U.S.-PRC [China] defense relations and regional and global security issues. Secretary Austin emphasized the need to responsibly manage competition and maintain open lines of communication," the Pentagon said.
In addition, the parties discussed the importance of substantive dialogue on reducing strategic risk, improving crisis communications and enhancing operational safety.
Chinese Defense Minister Wei Fenghe, for his part, stressed that Washington must respect Beijing's core interests.
"China attaches great importance to the development of relations between the two countries and the armed forces of the two states, but the US must respect the most vital interests of China," Wei said at a meeting, emphasizing that "the responsibility for the current situation in Chinese-US relations lies with the US, not China."
This comes as bilateral relations between the world's two biggest economies have been deteriorating following House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's visit to Taiwan in August. Pelosi visited the island despite Beijing's warning that it would be unavoidably viewed as interference in China's internal affairs. Pelocy`s visit was followed by Indiana Governor Eric Holcomb making a trip to the island.
As if it was not enough, in September a bipartisan congressional delegation visited Taiwan. The delegation was led by Florida Democrat Stephanie Murphy, who passed a bill that allows the US to provide Taiwan with arms. Beijing considers high-level foreign visits to the island as interference in its interior affairs and as the actual recognition of the sovereignty of Taiwan. The Biden administration claims that it does not support Taiwanese independence, but opposes any attempt to change the status quo by force.
Following Pelosi's visit to Taiwan, China held military exercises near the island, including firing missiles over the island and sending ships across the midline of the Taiwan Strait. Some of the missiles landed in Japan's exclusive economic zone.
Last week, Chinese leader Xi Jinping engaged in personal talks with US President Joe Biden during the G20 meeting in Indonesia. Biden confirmed that the two countries will vigorously compete for new markets. However, he stressed that this competition should not evolve into conflict. President Xi said that the Taiwan question is at the very core of China's national interests and a major line that should not be crossed.
Taiwan is a major apple of discord between China and the US. While the US does not accept the existence of Taiwan as independent country, it invests heavily, both economically and politically, in the island. Beijing considers Taiwan to be part of China, according to formula "One country, two systems".
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