BEIJING ( Associated Press) – China has demanded that the US suspend military “collusion” with Taiwan during a virtual meeting between the joint chiefs of staff of the two countries whose relationship has become increasingly fragile.
Gen. Li Zuocheng addressed Gen. Mark Milley said China has “no room for compromise” on issues affecting its “core interests”, which include self-governing Taiwan, which Beijing claims is its own territory to be annexed by force if necessary.
“China demands that the US … stop reversing history, cease US-Taiwan military collusion and influence China-US ties and stability in the Strait of Taiwan,” Li said.
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The Chinese military will “resolutely protect national sovereignty and territorial integrity,” he said. “If anyone creates a willful provocation, they will be met with the firm counter-attack of the Chinese people.”
Such language use is fairly routine and Li was also quoted in a news release from the Ministry of Defense as saying China hopes to “further strengthen dialogue, address risks and promote co-operation, rather than deliberately creating confrontation, inciting incidents attract and become mutually exclusive. “
China regularly flies warplanes near Taiwan to advertise its threat to attack, and the island’s defense ministry said Chinese air force planes crossed the middle line of Taiwan Street on Friday morning, dividing the two sides. It said measures had been taken in response, including the scramble of Taiwanese jets.
Such “provocative behavior … has seriously damaged regional peace and stability,” the ministry said.
Asked about the incident, a Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman said: “This exercise by China is aimed at external interference and separatist Taiwanese independence forces.”
The meeting between Li and Milley followed fiery remarks by Chinese Defense Minister Wei Fenghe at a regional security conference last month, which was also attended by US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin.
Wei accused the United States of trying to “hijack” the support of countries in the Asia-Pacific region to turn against Beijing, saying Washington was seeking to advance its own interests “under the guise of multilateralism.”
At the same meeting in Singapore, Austin said China was causing instability with its claim to Taiwan and its increased military activity in the area.
And in May, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken called China the “most serious long-term challenge to international order” for the United States, with its claims on Taiwan and efforts to dominate the strategic South China Sea, which an angry reaction from Beijing.
The US and its allies responded with patrols they call “freedom of navigation” in the South China Sea, which provoked angry reactions from Beijing.
Despite not having formal diplomatic relations in respect of Beijing, Washington remains Taiwan’s main ally and supplier of defense weapons. US law requires the government to treat all threats to the island as matters of “serious concern”, although it remains ambiguous as to whether the US military would defend Taiwan if attacked by China.
The latest round of heated rhetoric comes ahead of a meeting between Blinken and his Chinese counterpart, Wang Yi, on Saturday at a G-20 bloc meeting of Indonesian industrialized nations’ foreign ministers expected to be overshadowed by disagreements over Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
China has refused to criticize Moscow’s aggression or even call it an invasion, while condemning Western sanctions against Russia and accusing the US and NATO of provoking the conflict.
Along with Taiwan and the South China Sea, Washington and Beijing are also at odds over trade, human rights and China’s policies in Tibet and against predominantly Muslim-Turkish minorities in the northwestern region of Xinjiang.