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China won’t allow cold or hot war in Asia-Pacific, Chinese Defence Minister Dong Jun says

China will not allow any country to ignite wars – cold or hot – in the Asia-Pacific region, Chinese Defence Minister Dong Jun told an international security conference in Singapore on Sunday.

“We will not allow hegemony and power politics to harm the Asia-Pacific. Nor will we allow geopolitical conflicts, cold wars or hot wars to be introduced into the Asia-Pacific. Nor will we allow any country or any force to create war and chaos here,” Dong said in an address to the Shangri-La Dialogue.

He added that countries in the region had the ability and confidence to solve regional problems.

A day earlier, Dong’s US counterpart, Secretary of Defence Lloyd Austin, told the forum that the United States was committed to improving partnerships and alliances in the region.

Defence ministers from China and US meet on sidelines of Shangri-La Dialogue in Singapore

Dong and Austin met on the event’s sidelines on Friday in the first face-to-face meeting between the two countries’ defence chiefs since November 2022.

In terms of China-US military relations, Dong said China had always been open to exchanges and cooperation with the US military.

“We believe that it is precisely because of the differences between the two militaries that more exchanges are needed. Even if the paths are different, we should not seek confrontation,” Dong said.


He also said Beijing was committed to “peaceful reunification” with Taiwan, but the prospect was being “undermined by Taiwan separatists and external forces”.

The People’s Liberation Army will resolutely fight against Taiwan independence forces and “whoever dares to split Taiwan from China will be crushed to pieces and invite their own destruction”.

Asked if PLA drills around the island showed that Beijing was truly interested in peaceful reunification with Taiwan, Dong said Taiwan independence forces were “unilaterally changing the status quo of the Taiwan Strait”.

He said the inauguration speech on May 20 of the island’s new leader, William Lai Ching-te, “exposed their ambition to seek Taiwan independence”.

Without mentioning the US, Dong accused some countries of “hollowing out” the one-China principle, selling weapons to Taiwan and attempting to “use Taiwan to contain China”.

“These sinister intentions are leading Taiwan into danger,” he said.

Beijing sees Taiwan as part of China to be reunited by force if necessary. Most countries, including the US, do not recognise Taiwan as an independent state, but Washington is opposed to any attempt to take the self-governed island by force and is committed to arm Taiwan.

South China Sea

Dong said in the speech that some countries had “provoked incidents” in the South China Sea at the instigation of external forces.

He said “external forces” had deployed mid-range missiles in the region, seriously undermining regional security and stability – an apparent reference to the US’ deployment of an intermediate missile system for the first time in the northern Philippines during a drill in April.

The South China Sea was the busiest area for international trade, accounting for over half of all global shipping, and there had “never been one incident [in which] civilian ships have had their freedom of navigation being compromised”.

“So why has this always become an issue? Why is it always brought up? Because this place is prosperous, some big powers are increasing their military presence in this region, deploying more military force. So what is their purpose? Are you coming here for peace or stirring up trouble?”

Second Thomas Shoal

Dong also did not refer directly to the Philippines, but on recent clashes near the Second Thomas Shoal, known in China as Renai Jiao, he said the adversary was “deliberately” playing the victim to create disputes.

“I think this is blackmail … I think this isn’t even morally right,” Dong said.

“China’s law enforcement has been restrained and in accordance with our law. Our policy has been very consistent for the past many decades.

“We are committed to peaceful resolution of the dispute. I just want to say our tolerance for deliberate provocation will have a limit.”