China rebuts U.S. defense secretary’s remarks on South China Sea, Taiwan


SINGAPORE, June 11 (Xinhua) — China strongly objected to remarks made by U.S. Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin on Saturday at the ongoing 19th Shangri-La Dialogue regarding the South China Sea and Taiwan, calling them unfounded declarations and false accusations against China.

Austin’s accusation that China’s “unprofessional and frequent interceptions” of other countries’ airplanes in the air space of the South China Sea does not accord with the fact, said Lieutenant General Zhang Zhenzhong, deputy chief of the Joint Staff Department of the Central Military Commission, at a press briefing.

“We have to point out that the place or the air space where this event happened were in the air space near China’s Xisha and Nansha Islands, not the air space of American allies. And China has to take necessary counter measures to safeguard its sovereignty and security interests. The counter measures we have taken are conducted in a professional and safe way,” Zhang said.

Zhang said that the title of militarization of the South China Sea is more suited for the United States as it frequently sends warships and planes to intrude into the adjacent waters and air space of China’s islands and reefs in the South China Sea and frequently carries out closing reconnaissance and targeted military exercises in the area.

“We have deployed necessary defense facilities in our own territory. It is a natural right of a sovereign country to do so. It is also a necessary response to the provocative actions of other parties. It is fair to say that the United States is the biggest force driving the militarization of the South China Sea,” he said.

Zhang stressed that there was never any trouble in the South China Sea until the United States created troubles.

Calling Austin’s remarks on Taiwan interference in China’s internal affairs, Zhang urged Washington to stopping playing the “Taiwan card.”

By sending officials to visit Taiwan, claiming support for Taiwan’s “self-defense” capacity, revising its so-called fact sheet of “U.S.-Taiwan” relations and arms sales, the United States has sent wrong signals to the “Taiwan independence” separatist forces and escalated tensions across the strait, Zhang said, noting that “This is extremely dangerous.”

“The Taiwan question is the one question that could most easily lead the China-U.S. relations into conflict. Mishandling of the Taiwan question will have a destructive impact on bilateral ties. The People’s Liberation Army always stands ready to resolutely safeguard national sovereignty, security and territorial integrity at any cost,” he said.

While commenting on the United States’ so-called “Indo-Pacific strategy,” Zhang said it is a strategy that causes division, instigates confrontation and undermines peace in the Asia-Pacific region.

“The U.S. Indo-Pacific strategy is a strategy that goes against historical trends and prevailing will of regional countries. It only serves the U.S. own interests and therefore is doomed to failure,” he said.

Zhang said that the United States often talks about the rule-based international order, but it actually treats international rules and norms as a toy.

Withdrawing from treaties, breaking away from agreements at its own will, waving the stick of unilateral sanctions against other countries, and interfering in other countries’ internal affairs, the United States, in reality, tries to rule the world with its own domestic laws and gangster rules, said Zhang.

“The United States is the biggest source of instability in international order, the backstage manipulator for global turmoil and a dangerous threat to regional peace and stability,” Zhang added.