China has vowed to "fight to the bitter end" to prevent Taiwanese independence and has warned that foreign involvement in Taiwan is "doomed to fail," escalating tensions with the United States over the self-governed island.
Sunday at the Shangri-La Dialogue security summit, the Chinese minister of defense, Wei Fenghe, stated that China has no other choice.
"If someone dares to split Taiwan from China, we will fight to the bitter end at whatever cost," Wei said.
In a heated response to US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin's speech on Saturday, Wei stated, that no one should ever underestimate the commitment and capability of the Chinese military to protect its territorial integrity.
The superpowers are engaged in an intensifying verbal spat over the self-governed, democratic island, which Beijing considers to be a portion of its territory awaiting reunification.
Wei stated, in a veiled reference to the United States, that some country keeps playing the Taiwan card against China in order to interfere with internal matters. He said, "No one can block China's road to reunification."
In an address delivered to the Dialogue on Saturday, Austin accused Beijing of "provocative and destabilizing" military activity and stated that the United States will stick behind its allies and partners in the Asia Pacific.
Wei stated on Sunday that it was up to the United States to improve the relationship, as ties had reached a critical stage.
Multiple times reiterating that China seeks peace and stability and is not an aggressor, he urged the United States to "stop demonizing and isolating China."
Wei, clad in his military uniform, told delegates the bilateral relationship cannot develop unless the U.S. side can achieve this.
In a more conciliatory tone, he advocated for a stable China-U.S. relationship, which he deemed "essential for global peace."
Increasing Chinese military aircraft incursions into Taiwan's air defense identification zone have contributed to a rise in tensions over the island (ADIZ).
During a visit to Japan last month, U.S. President Joe Biden appeared to breach decades of US policy when he stated that the United States would support Taiwan militarily if it were attacked by China.
Since then, the White House has maintained that its stance of "strategic ambiguity" regarding intervention has not changed.
China's sweeping claims to the South China Sea, through which trillions of dollars in annual shipping traffic passes, have inflamed tensions with Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines, Taiwan, and Vietnam, competing claimants.