New Cold War? U.S., China Defense Chiefs Square Off in Singapore

U.S. and Chinese military leaders squared off at a major security conference in Singapore: Beijing asserted that its forces are ready for war over Taiwan, while U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin chided China for its increasingly aggressive military actions in the region.

Chinese Defense Minister Gen. Li Shangfu bluntly told the Shangri-La dialogue defense conference that Beijing seeks “peaceful reunification” with Taiwan, but will “make no promise to renounce the use of force” if necessary to make the island democracy part of China.

“If anyone dares to separate Taiwan from China, the Chinese military will not hesitate for a second,” he said. “We will fear no opponents and resolutely safeguard national sovereignty and territorial integrity regardless of any cost.”

Gen. Li’s comments came a day after Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said the U.S. military is stepping up plans, coordination and training to “deter aggression.”

The competing remarks, in speeches at Shangri-La last weekend, underscored the depths of U.S.-China tensions. The strains were on display ahead of the security conference when Chinese jets engaged in a dangerous aerial intercept of a U.S. surveillance aircraft in the region last week. (Read more from “New Cold War? U.S., China Defense Chiefs Square Off in Singapore” HERE)

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