The United States is to blame for rising tensions in the Pacific, and America’s Indo-Pacific strategy will only further divide the region and ultimately “doom,” a leading Chinese military official said Sunday.
Chinese Lieutenant General Zhang Zhenzhong’s harsh comments came hours after US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin spoke at a high-level dialogue in Shari La in Singapore, accusing of “provocative and destabilizing China’s military activities near Taiwan.” The usually restrained Mr Austin has sharply criticized China’s rapidly growing military footprint across the Pacific, particularly its recent military flights over Taiwan.
These and other actions by China, Mr Austin said, have led to rising tensions in the region. He promised that the United States would help maintain “peace and stability” in the Pacific and would continue to assist Taiwan’s defense forces.
But General Zhang defended the position of his troops in the Pacific and said that the United States is making its way into dangerous territory, playing the “card of Taiwan” at every opportunity.
“The Taiwan issue is the only issue that can most easily lead Sino-US relations to conflict. The wrong solution to the Taiwanese issue will have a devastating effect on bilateral ties. The People’s Liberation Army is always ready to resolutely defend national sovereignty, security and territorial integrity at any cost, “said General Zhang, deputy head of the joint headquarters of the Central Military Commission of China.
“The US Indo-Pacific Strategy is a strategy that contradicts historical trends and the prevailing will of the region. It serves only the United States’ own interests and is therefore doomed to failure, “said General Zhang, according to China Daily.
“The United States is the biggest source of instability in the international order, a behind-the-scenes manipulator of global turmoil and a dangerous threat to regional peace and stability,” he said.
His comments echoed those of Defense Minister General Wei Fenghe, who suggested that the U.S. strategy was an attempt to drive China into a corner.
“No country should impose its will on others or mock others under the guise of multilateralism,” he said. “The strategy is an attempt to create an exclusive small group on behalf of the free and open Indo-Pacific region to capture the countries of our region and target one particular country – it is a strategy of creating conflict and confrontation to deter and surround others. ”
Last year, U.S. officials accused China of testing a hypersonic missile, a weapon that is difficult to resist with missile defense systems, but China insisted it was a “normal spacecraft test.”
Asked about Sunday’s test, Mr Wei came close to acknowledging that it was indeed a hypersonic missile, saying: “As for hypersonic weapons, many countries are developing weapons, and I think it’s not surprising that China is doing it. ”
“China will develop its army,” he added. “I think it’s natural.”
He said China’s “greatest desire” was “peaceful reunification” with Taiwan, but also made it clear that Beijing was ready to do everything possible to achieve its goals.
“China will definitely understand its reunification,” he said. “China’s reunification is a great affair of the Chinese nation, and it is a historical trend that no one and no force can stop.”
Messrs. Wei and Austin met in private on Saturday, and Taiwan played an important role in their discussions, according to U.S. officials.
This article includes service reports.