BEIJING – China’s Defense Minister Wei Fenghe has announced that his country is willing to “fight to the end” to protect its national interests, both economically – in the midst of the trade war with the US – and militarily, if some extreme force dares to challenge the one-China policy and separate Taiwan from the mainland.
The Chinese minister made these statements within the Shangri-La Dialogue security forum, a day after his American counterpart Patrick Shanahan tried to gather an international coalition against China’s growing power in the Indo-Pacific.
“No attempt to divide China will be successful. Any interference in the Taiwan issue is doomed to failure,” he said.
“China should be and will be reunited,” the defense minister said.
Wei insisted that Beijing will not give up “an inch” of its “sacred land” and that the Chinese People’s Liberation Army serves “exclusively for self-defense purposes,” so it will only attack if attacked.
If the threat of a larger conflict extends across the Pacific, the minister stressed that China and the US are aware that a war could mean a “disaster” for both countries. In addition, Wei said Beijing is firmly committed to regional peace and stability and will never pursue expansionist policies.
“If the US wants to talk, we will keep the door open, if they want to fight, we will fight to the end,” he said.
However, the official stressed that despite disputes with Washington, bilateral relations have developed significantly in the last 40 years.
“The cooperation benefits both, the confrontation is painful for both,” said the minister, stressing the importance of communication between the parties.
China has repeatedly accused the United States of conducting provocations in the region and has warned China against sending military ships and aircraft to nearby disputed islands in the South China Sea. Washington often sends warships to the South China Sea, a strategic route as part of what Washington calls “protection of freedom of navigation.”