US defense secretary Lloyd Austin III on Saturday said that the US will do its part to control tensions with China and prevent any future conflict but highlighted that China is becoming ‘increasingly aggressive in the Asian region’ while addressing the Shangri-La Dialogue in Singapore.
“That’s especially important as the PRC (People’s Republic of China) adopts a more coercive and aggressive approach to its territorial claims,” Austin was quoted as saying by Channel NewsAsia (CNA).
Relations between the nations have soured due to clashes over Taiwan, China’s human rights record and military activity in the South China Sea. China continues to push its agenda on Taiwan and has warned that it will reunify the island-nation if required.
Austin reiterated the Biden administration’s promise saying that the US will stand with all its allies including Taiwan. His comments came after a meeting with Chinese counterpart Wei Fenghe where both ministers committed to take steps to better maintain the relationship between both countries.
Austin also highlighted the recent altercation between Chinese People’s Liberation Army Air Force (PLAAF) jets with those of other countries.
Earlier in May, Chinese J-16 jet fighters released a cloud of small aluminum strips, known as chaff and also behaved unprofessionally with Canadian Royal Air Force jet pilots by interfering with their surveillance missions which were checking if North Korea was complying with the sanctions imposed on it.
Taiwan foreign ministry spokesperson Joanne Ou called China’s territorial claims absurd and thanked the US for standing beside it.
“Taiwan has never been under the jurisdiction of the Chinese government, and the people of Taiwan will not succumb to threats of force from the Chinese government,” Ou was quoted as saying by CNA.
Kishida Lauds Quad, Nobuo Kishi Says Ukraine Next East Asia
Japan prime minister Fumio Kishida delivered the keynote speech at Asia’s premier defense conclave where he said that Quad is playing an important role in promoting a ‘free and open’ Indo-Pacific.
He also urged like-minded nations to increase their investments in the region.
“In addition to the ASEAN and Pacific countries, Japan, Australia, India and the United States, also known as QUAD, are playing an important role in promoting a free and open Indo-Pacific. It is also important for like-minded countries to work together to increase the investment in resources in this region,” Kishida said while pointing out that the grouping pledged to spend more than $50 billion on infrastructure assistance and investment in the Indo-Pacific over the next five years when they met in May for a leadership summit.
Japan struck a strong tone as Kishida said that Tokyo will increase defense spending and possibly seek advanced strike weapons.
Meanwhile, his defense minister Nobuo Kishi said that Ukraine could be the next ‘East Asia’ referring to China and North Korea who are modernizing their military. “Japan is surrounded by actors that possess, or are developing, nuclear weapons, and that openly ignore rules,” Kishi was quoted as saying by news agency Reuters.
He also said that China and Russia are conducting joint war drills which can create instability in the region. “Joint military operations between these two strong military powers will undoubtedly increase concern among other countries. Ukraine may be East Asia tomorrow,” Kishi further added.
The IISS Shangri-La Dialogue is Asia’s premier defense summit where defense ministers, world leaders, senior officials, as well as business leaders and security experts discuss and debate the region’s most pressing security challenges. The summit is being held in Singapore between June 10-June 12.