US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin has warned that a war over Taiwan would be “devastating” and have an impact on the world economy “in ways we cannot imagine.” Austin also reaffirmed US support for the island’s democracy.
“Conflict is neither inevitable nor imminent. Austin made his statements at the Shangri-La Dialogue security meeting on Saturday, which is being attended by delegates from dozens of nations, including China. “Deterrence is strong today, and it’s our job to keep it that way,” Austin added.
“Maintaining tranquility and stability in the Taiwan Strait is important for the entire world. It is necessary for the safety of global supply chains and commercial shipping routes. Additionally, the freedom of navigation everywhere There is little doubt that a confrontation in the Taiwan Strait would be catastrophic.
After his address, Austin responded to questions by saying, “Conflict in the Taiwan Strait would affect the global economy in ways we cannot imagine.”
Despite never having had sovereignty over the island, China’s Communist Party, which is currently in power, claims Taiwan as part of its territory, raising questions about how far it will go to enforce this claim. China’s leader, Xi Jinping, has explicitly not ruled out the use of force.
On Saturday, shortly after Austin spoke, Lieutenant General Jing Jianfeng of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army said on CCTV that Austin’s remarks about Taiwan were “completely wrong.”
Jing claimed that Washington was attempting to “consolidate hegemony and provoke confrontation” and added that the US was undermining regional peace and stability with its actions.
A US Navy official reported that US and Canadian warships were traversing the Taiwan Strait while talks were taking place in Singapore late on Saturday afternoon.
The transit by the frigate HIMCS Montreal and destroyer USS Chung-Hoon was regular and took place “through waters where high-seas freedoms of navigation and overflight apply in accordance with international law,” according to a statement from US Navy spokesperson Lt. Kristina Wiedemann.
“Cooperation like this represents the centerpiece of our approach to a secure and prosperous region where aircraft and ships of all nations may fly, sail, and operate anywhere international law allows,” the statement continued.
Austin’s prior remarks come at a difficult moment for US-China ties because China just turned down Austin’s invitation to meet at the summit in Singapore, blaming US sanctions on Chinese officials and businesses.
Speaking on the lack of communication, Austin stated in his speech on Saturday that he is “deeply concerned” that the People’s Republic of China “has been unwilling to engage more seriously on better mechanisms for crisis management.”
“For responsible leaders, any time is a good time to speak. Every moment is a good time to speak. And right now is the ideal time to talk,” Austin remarked. “Conversation is not a reward. It is essential.
Austin urged Beijing to do more, noting that he and Chinese Defense Minister Li Shangfu smiled at one another at a banquet on Friday night.
A friendly handshake at dinner isn’t a replacement for a genuine engagement, he said.
Austin detailed numerous US alliances with regional allies during his address, claiming that these alliances are strengthening ties and making the area “more stable and resilient.”
Austin underlined that the US will uphold “our vigorous, responsible presence across the Indo-Pacific” and “continue to stand by our allies and partners as they uphold their rights.”
Austin criticized China for conducting an “alarming number of risky intercepts of US and allied aircraft” in international airspace, and he added that the US would stand with allies and partners against “coercion and bullying.”
“We do not seek conflict or confrontation,” Austin declared. But in the face of intimidation or pressure, we will not cower.
In response to a question, he said, “The way that you deter any misguided decisions is by having a combat-credible military,” adding that the US “will be ready no matter what happens.”
Austin outlined a “positive and inclusive” vision for the region, according to Drew Thompson, a senior research fellow at the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy at the National University of Singapore. Austin also noted that this vision has benefited Beijing for decades.
Beijing will make the ensuing move. On Sunday morning, Defense Minister Li speaks at the Shangri-La forum.
The way General Li reacts tomorrow will be interesting to watch, Thompson said.
According to him, China has a lot of opportunities to work closely with the US and other nations in the region to promote stability.