US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin stated at a high-level Asian security conference on Tuesday that the US military will resolutely defend Taiwan and its other Asian allies, and reject China’s broad sovereignty claims in the South China Sea.
The speech at the Singapore conference organized by the Institute for International Security marked Mr. Austin’s most extensive speech so far in the theater that the Pentagon has regarded as its main focus for decades to come.
Like other senior officials in the Biden administration, Austin stated that he sees profound challenges and opportunities for cooperation with the Chinese Communist Party.
“When our interests are threatened, we will not back down, but we do not seek confrontation,” Mr. Austin once declared.
The head of the Pentagon talked about several issues that may touch Beijing’s nerves, including the United States’ continued commitment to defending Taiwan and the growing prominence of so-called “four-nation” regional democracies—the United States, Japan, Australia, and India. Condemned as an effort to curb its rise in the Indo-Pacific region.
As the US commander in the region recently issued a warning that China has accelerated the timetable for taking back control of Taiwan, Mr. Austin declared in his speech, “We are working with Taiwan to strengthen its own capabilities and improve its combat readiness. Level.” to stop threats and coercion. “
The former four-star army general also said that he is very happy to see that America’s Asian allies are establishing new contacts to strengthen their own security.
“I am particularly encouraged to see our friends establish stronger security ties with each other and further strengthen a series of partnerships to prevent aggression,” he said.
Mr. Austin also made it clear that, in his view, China is the main source of such aggression.
Beijing’s huge claims on the South China Sea “have no basis in international law. Such claims violate the sovereignty of countries in the region,” he said in a prepared speech, and mentioned the conflicts between China and Japan and the Philippines on maritime claims.
“Unfortunately, Beijing is unwilling to resolve disputes peacefully and respect the rule of law. This is not just happening on the water,” he added. “We have also seen aggression against India, destabilizing military activities and other forms of coercion against the people of Taiwan, as well as genocide and crimes against humanity against Uighur Muslims in Xinjiang.”
A few days ago, Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman had sometimes tense talks with senior Chinese counterparts, and the Biden administration tried to readjust its relations with Beijing after bilateral tensions soared in the last few years. Trump administration.
The Secretary of Defense will seek to strengthen military relations with the Philippines and Vietnam. These are the other two stops of his Asia visit.
The Global Times, China’s state-controlled nationalist newspaper, wrote on Tuesday that Mr. Austin will find it difficult to try to get small Asian countries into alliances against China.
“No matter how much rhetoric the United States uses to beautify its role in Asia and hype the’China threat’, its purpose of seeking an anti-China alliance is obvious and will arouse the vigilance of Asian countries,” the newspaper said in a statement. analyze.