U.S. defense secretary urges China not to undermine cross-strait stability

06/10/2022 10:48 PM
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From the Twitter page of U.S. Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III
From the Twitter page of U.S. Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III

Singapore, June 10 (CNA) U.S. Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III on Friday urged China not to further undermine stability across the Taiwan Strait, during a meeting with his Chinese counterpart in Singapore.

Austin emphasized the importance of cross-strait peace and stability when he met with China's Minister of National Defense Wei Fenghe (魏鳳和) on the sidelines of the Shangri-La Dialogue, the U.S. Department of Defense said in a statement.

A key security forum for the Asia Pacific region, the dialogue kicked off on Friday and will run through Sunday in the city state.

"The Secretary reaffirmed the importance of peace and stability across the Strait, opposition to unilateral changes to the status quo, and called on the PRC (People's Republic of China) to refrain from further destabilizing actions toward Taiwan," the Department of Defense said.

In the meeting with Wei, Austin reiterated the United States remains committed to the country's longstanding "one China policy," which is guided by the Taiwan Relations Act (TRA), the Three U.S.-China Joint Communiques and the Six Assurances, according to the statement.

Echoing the statement, Austin confirmed in a Twitter message the meeting with Wei, saying they also "discussed U.S.-PRC defense relations, as well as global and regional security issues."

The Department of Defense said that the issues raised in the meeting with Wei also included the Democratic People's Republic of Korea and Russia's unprovoked invasion of Ukraine.

"Secretary Austin discussed the need to responsibly manage competition and maintain open lines of communication," the department said. "The Secretary underscored the importance of the People's Liberation Army engaging in substantive dialogue on improving crisis communications and reducing strategic risk."

Meanwhile, China's Ministry of National Defense issued a 475-word statement, saying Wei reiterated during the talks with Austin that the "one China principle" is the political cornerstone of relations between Beijing and Washington.

Wei said China hopes to build a stable relationship with the U.S., while urging Washington to respond rationally to the growth of China and not to try and suppress Beijing.

Wei also called on the U.S. not to intervene in China's internal politics and undermine China's interests, adding that any effort by Washington to use Taipei as a means to take on Beijing is doomed to failure.

The TRA was enacted in 1979 to maintain commercial, cultural, and other unofficial relations between the U.S. and Taiwan after Washington switched diplomatic recognition from Taipei to Beijing. The TRA also requires the U.S. "to provide Taiwan with arms of a defensive character."

The Six Assurances, which were given by former U.S. President Ronald Reagan to Taiwan in 1982, include pledges not to set a date for ending arms sales to Taiwan, not to hold prior consultations with China regarding arms sales to Taiwan, and not to play a mediation role between Taiwan and China.

The three communiques are a collection of joint statements signed by the U.S. and Chinese governments from 1972-1982 that played a key role in the establishment of relations between Washington and Beijing and continue to serve as an essential element in dialogue between the two countries.

(By Elaine Hou, Stacy Hsu and Frances Huang)

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