Gen Wei Fenghe warns US over interference in Taiwan, South China Sea
Wei says war with US would be a disaster for the world
Minister defends Tiananmen, Uighur crackdown
China’s defense minister yesterday issued a stern rebuke to the United States amid the ongoing trade war and tension over the South China Sea and Taiwan, saying his country would “not let others prey on or divide us.”
Gen. Wei Fenghe told delegates at the Shangri-La Dialogue, , Asia’s premier defence summit, in Singapore that Beijing would not yield an inch of territory -- and any foreign interference was doomed to failure.
On Saturday, acting US Defence Secretary Patrick Shanahan told the meeting that the United States would no longer “tiptoe” around Chinese behaviour in Asia.
It was the latest exchange of acerbic comments between the two sides as their ties come under increasing strain due to a bitter trade war, US support for Taiwan and China’s muscular military posture in the South China Sea, where the United States also conducts freedom-of-navigation patrols.
China has been particularly incensed by recent moves by President Donald Trump’s administration to increase support for self-ruled and democratic Taiwan, including US Navy sailings through the Taiwan Strait that separates the island from China.
Wei said China would “fight to the end” if anyone tried to interfere in its relationship with Taiwan,.
“If anyone dares to split Taiwan from China, the Chinese military has no choice but to fight at all costs ... The U.S. is indivisible, and so is China. China must be, and will be, reunified.”
He however said both sides realised that any war between the two “would bring disaster to both countries and the world.”
While Shanahan’s speech was critical of China, his tone was often conciliatory. Wei took a more combative approach.
Wei, in a clear reference to the US, also said: “Some countries from outside the region come to the South China Sea to flex muscles in the name of freedom of navigation.”
This week will mark 30 years since a bloody Chinese military crackdown on protesters around Beijing’s Tiananmen Square, refocusing scrutiny on China’s approach to security threats.
Taking questions from the floor, Wei defended the government’s handling of the Tiananmen “incident”, a rare official acknowledgement of the events of June 4, 1989; references to it are heavily censored in China.
“The government was decisive in stopping the turbulence,” Wei said of the Tiananmen Square crackdown. Due to this, China has enjoyed stability, and if you visit China you can understand that part of history.”
Wei defended China’s detention of hundreds of thousands of Uyghurs in Xinjiang province for economic and security reasons.
“The policy of China in Xinjiang is absolutely right. Because over the past more than two years there is no single terrorist attack in Xinjiang. The living standard of the local people has improved,” he said.
Wei also blamed Washington for the ongoing trade war.
“As for the recent trade friction started by the US, if the US wants to talk we will keep the door open. If they want to fight, we will fight until the end,” he said.
“Bully us? No way,” he added.