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In Singapore, China warned the US while Zelensky sought support

Competing tensions over US global power took center stage at a security conference on Sunday, where China accused the United States of stoking tensions around Taiwan and the South China Sea, and President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine is seeking greater support for his embattled country.

These scenes took place at the Shangri-La Dialogue, an annual security forum in Singapore that has long been a barometer for the ups and downs in US-China relations.

This year, U.S. Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III and Chinese Defense Minister Admiral Dong Jun, organize negotiations, something the top defense officials of the two countries cannot always do at this meeting. But Admiral Dong made clear that China remains deeply opposed to US influence and alliance building across Asia, especially US support for Taiwan, the democratic island that Beijing claims. Dad is his territory.

“These evil intentions are dragging Taiwan to the risk of war,” Admiral Dong told the meeting after making an indirect but unmistakable reference to Taiwan’s political and military support. United States to Taiwan. “Anyone who dares to separate Taiwan from China will be smashed to pieces and seek their own destruction.”

Admiral Dong’s warnings, like other aggressive comments by Chinese military officers at the meeting, reflect that Beijing and Washington remain deeply divided on some fundamental issues in the region, even as they discuss ways to keep military conflicts at sea and in the air from escalating into crises.

Last month, China hosted two days of menacing military exercises across Taiwan, accusing the country’s new president, Lai Ching-te, trying to gain independence for the island. Mr. Lai’s Democratic Progressive Party has insisted that Taiwan have separate status, although Mr. Lai has made clear that he will not seek full independence.

Mr. Austin warned in a speech on Saturday against “regional actions that erode the status quo and threaten peace and stability,” an indirect reference to China’s pressure on Taiwan. Mr. Austin also said “we all have a common interest in ensuring that the South China Sea remains open and free,” despite China’s territorial claims in the sea.

But Admiral Dong accused an unnamed Southeast Asian country – apparently the Philippines – of causing trouble on disputed islands and reefs at sea, and once again suggested that the US was the real culprit. .

“A certain country, provoked by external forces, has abandoned its agreements,” he said in a speech to diplomats, military officials and experts, many from Asian countries. bilateral agreements, breaking promises and taking premeditated actions to stir up incidents.” “China has exercised enough restraint to respond to these provocations, but this restraint also has its limits.”

The Philippines has been at odds with China over its claims in the South China Sea, in an area Manila calls the West Philippine Sea. In 2016, an international tribunal under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea rejected China’s expansive claims in the South China Sea, including shoals near the Philippines. Beijing ignored that ruling.

At a meeting in Singapore, Philippine president Ferdinand Marcos Jr. warned on Friday that his government could call for assistance from the United States under a mutual defense treaty in the event of a Chinese ship caused the death of a Filipino sailor. .

A US official who heard Admiral Dong’s speech objected to his portrayal of China and its People’s Liberation Army as innocent victims in regional disputes. The official, speaking on condition of anonymity to discuss geopolitical tensions, said the admiral’s assertion contradicted the Chinese military’s “coercion activities” in the region.

Even in Singapore, Mr. Austin and other Western officials were reminded that Ukraine’s more than two-year war against Russian aggression continues to demand the attention of leaders and resources. of taxpayers.

Mr. Zelensky spoke at the meeting early Sunday afternoon. A Pentagon spokesman said Austin met with him on the sidelines to discuss the current battlefield situation and reassure him of America’s commitment to ensuring Ukraine has what it needs to defend itself. guard.

“It is a reminder to countries in Asia and the Indo-Pacific that the war taking place in Ukraine is not just a European problem. It is a problem for the world,” said Bonnie S. Glaser, executive director of the Indo-Pacific program at the U.S. German Marshall Fund.

“Zelensky realized that he had to go out and remind the world to continue to support the war that his country is participating in,” said Ms. Glaser, who was present at the conference in Singapore.

Have to face up with The Russian army advanced in its countryMr. Zelensky was called on the United States and Europe stepped up support for its forces and overcame concerns about having Ukraine fire U.S. missiles and other weapons at military targets inside Russia.

Mr. Zelensky said on social networks that he met with members of the US Congress at the meeting in Singapore, including Representative Michael McCaul of Texas, a Republican and chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee. Mr. Zelensky thanks you for help win approval in April to request additional military support for Ukraine, but also said more was needed.

“We talked about the front-line situation and military support, especially additional systems and missiles to strengthen our air defense capabilities,” Zelensky said.


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