China’s Defense Minister Is Pushing The US Back Because Of Taiwan – POLITICO

SINGAPORE — In his first international appearance since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Chinese Defense Minister Wei Fenghe focused on one target for all the world’s crises: the United States.

From Taiwan to Ukraine, in explicit or implicit language, Wei targeted Washington on Sunday, doubling down on the Chinese military’s willingness to fight and holding onto Beijing’s subtly pro-Kremlin line. The awkward coverage — a surprise even to some longtime China watchers attending the Shangri-La Dialogue in Singapore — came a day after his US counterpart, Lloyd Austin, singled out China as the source of instability in the Indo-Pacific region. .

Significantly, however, Wei was asked to say that China has “provided no weapons” to Russia for deployment in Ukraine. He also repeatedly called it a “war” during the unscripted question-and-answer session, going beyond the usual label of “conflict.”

But there is little room for confusion about who should bear the most blame for the situation from Beijing’s perspective. According to the Chinese defense minister, Ukraine, Russia, China, Europe and the forum’s host country, Singapore, are all affected by the effects of the war.

He didn’t mention the US

“Who is the brain behind it? [the war in Ukraine]† said Wei. “Who has the most to gain? …Who is adding fuel to the fire?”

Rather than ask Russia to withdraw troops, Wei said it is time for the US and NATO to talk to Russia to “create conditions for an early ceasefire”.

“Those who tie the bell to the tiger must take it off,” he said, evoking a cliche Chinese expression.

Wei saved his most uncompromising message for Taiwan.

“Those who pursue Taiwanese independence in an attempt to split China will certainly not have a happy ending. No one should ever underestimate the determination and ability of the Chinese armed forces to protect its territorial integrity,” he said. “We will fight at all costs and we will fight to the end. This is the only choice for China.”

As if the message wasn’t clear enough, Wei said it would be “a path to death” if Taiwan declared its independence from China.

A European diplomat described Wei’s comments on Taiwan as “stronger than usual”, noting that Wei now equates Taiwan’s ruling party, the Democratic Progressive Party, as champions of independence.

Harsh rhetoric aside, Wei held several key bilateral meetings — including with US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin — at a time when Beijing is largely off limits to foreign official visitors due to its strict pandemic policy.

Notably, he met his new Australian counterpart, Richard Marles, on Sunday, the first such meeting after a three-year hiatus amid deteriorating relations between Canberra and Beijing.

“It was a full and frank discussion, which we think is a very important first step,” Marles told reporters afterwards, eager to portray a slowly warming dynamic that was different from the previous administration’s hostile stance toward China.

Marles said he would not underestimate “the difficulties” with Beijing, but added: “The fact that we were able to hold this meeting today is an important step in the process.”

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