Defense minister outlines China's vision of regional order at Shangri-La Dialogue
Chinese State Councilor and Defense Minister Wei Fenghe on Sunday delivered a speech on China's vision of regional order.
Addressing the 19th Shangri-La Dialogue in Singapore, Wei said the world is facing multiple crises rarely seen in history, and the way forward is to uphold and practice multilateralism and build a community with a shared future for mankind.
"China's development is unstoppable," Wei said, adding that China is committed to pursuing peaceful development.
China's development makes a huge contribution to global peace and development, and is not a threat to others, the minister said.
"The Chinese military is always a force for peace and will remain firm in safeguarding China's sovereignty, security and development interests."
On the South China Sea
Wei vowed that China would preserve freedom of navigation in the South China Sea area based on international law, asking neighboring ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) countries to stay united and prevent "some countries" from meddling on issues in the region.
"Freedom of navigation has never been compromised in the South China Sea," he said.
"In fact, China benefits most from freedom of navigation. If it were hampered in the South China Sea, China would suffer the most. Because without freedom of navigation, China's economy would hardly grow," he added.
He accused "some big power" of practicing "navigation hegemony," saying that it has sent warships and warplanes on a "rampage" in the South China Sea.
The Chinese defense chief also urged neighboring countries to "properly handle disputes" and "resolve small differences," so as to keep issues between sovereign countries and proceed in each other's long-term interests.
China and the ASEAN countries launched consultations on the Code of Conduct in the South China Sea in late 2018, and the parties have been in negotiations since. Last June, China and the ASEAN countries agreed to push for an early agreement.
"We countries in this region must stay vigilant and prevent some countries outside this region from meddling in the affairs of our region and turning the South China Sea into troubled waters," Wei said in his speech at the dialogue.
Wei also warned against any separatist activities seeking "Taiwan independence," stressing that China "will not hesitate to fight, will fight at all costs and will fight to the very end."
"Taiwan is China's Taiwan, period.The Taiwan question is China's internal affair," Wei said. "No one should ever underestimate the resolve and capabilities of China's armed forces to defend its sovereignty and territorial integrity."
"Those who pursue 'Taiwan independence' in an attempt to split China will definitely come to no good end, and foreign interference is doomed to failure," he said.
Noting that the U.S. fought a civil war for unity, Wei said China does not want such a civil war, but will resolutely crush any attempt to pursue "Taiwan independence."
"Let me make this clear: If anyone dares to secede Taiwan from China, we will not hesitate to fight, we will fight at all costs and we will fight to the very end," he said. "This is the only choice for China."
In a series of recent moves, from visits by elected representatives to approving a $120 million arms sale to the Taiwan region, the United States has been "hollowing out its commitment to the one-China principle," the Chinese defense minister said.
On China-U.S. relations
In his speech, Wei said China opposes using competition to define bilateral relations with the United States.
"Confrontation will benefit neither our two countries, nor other countries," he said, warning that it would be a historic and strategic mistake to insist on seeing China as a threat, adversary or enemy.
China demands the U.S. "stop smearing and containing China, stop interfering in China's internal affairs and stop harming China's interests," Wei said.
"If you want to talk, we should talk with mutual respect. If you want to engage, we should seek peaceful coexistence. If you want to cooperate, we should seek mutual benefits and win-win results. However, if you want confrontation, we will fight to the very end," he said.
Earlier on Friday, Wei met with his U.S. counterpart Lloyd Austin. He told the U.S. secretary of defense that Washington should view China's development and growth rationally, and called for an end to "smearing or suppressing China."
A stable China-U.S. military relationship is vital for the two countries, and the two militaries should avoid conflict and confrontation, Wei added.
On Ukraine crisis
China's position on the Ukraine crisis is fair and objective, Wei said at the security summit.
China holds that it is important to observe the purposes and principles of the UN Charter, respect sovereignty and territorial integrity of all countries, and respect and accommodate the legitimate security concerns of all parties, he said.
China does not believe that maximum pressure or sanctions can solve the crisis, said Wei, adding that the measures only exacerbate tensions and further complicate the issue.
He said China supports talks between Russia and Ukraine, and urges the U.S. and NATO to have talks with Russia to create conditions for an early ceasefire.
(Cover: Chinese State Councilor and Defense Minister Wei Fenghe addresses the 19th Shangri-La Dialogue in Singapore, June 12, 2022. /Chinese Ministry of National Defense)