U.S. and China Clash Over Taiwan at Shangri-La Dialogue

U.S. and China Clash Over Taiwan at Shangri-La Dialogue

On Friday, the US and China’s defence leaders met for the first time in two years, sparring over Taiwan. However, they emphasised the importance of maintaining open military communications. Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin and China’s defence minister, Dong Jun, met at the Shangri-La Dialogue in Singapore.

After Taiwan’s presidential election and President Lai Ching-te’s inauguration, Austin expressed concern about Chinese military operations near the island. He stressed that Taiwan’s political transition should not be exploited as a pretext for China’s aggressive measures. Dong cautioned that US meddling in Taiwanese politics breaches commitments and sends the wrong signal to separatist elements in Taiwan, labelling Lai as a “separatist.”

Both parties highlighted the importance of military-to-military communications despite tensions. Additionally, the conflicts in the South China Sea, Ukraine, and Gaza were also discussed. Later, Philippine President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. addressed the conference, emphasising the significance of the South China Sea for world trade and reaffirming the country’s legal and geopolitical position.

The Philippines, Brunei, Malaysia, Taiwan, and Vietnam all claim sovereignty over parts of the South China Sea, but China claims sovereignty over the majority. According to Wellington Koo, Taiwan’s Defence Minister, peace could be maintained if Beijing stopped its military provocations.