United States (US) Secretary of Defense, Lloyd Austin. Photo/Reuters
SINGAPORE – Defense Minister United States of America (USA), Lloyd Austin, has sworn that Washington will not accept coercion and intimidation of any kind against its allies and partners by China . He also assured Beijing that the US remains committed to maintaining the status quo in Taiwan and prefers dialogue to conflict.
Speaking in Singapore at the Shangri-La Dialogue, Asia’s top security summit, Austin lobbied to support Washington’s vision of a free, open and secure Indo-Pacific in a world of rules and rights as the best way to counter China’s growing power in the region.
On that occasion, Austin also said he was deeply concerned about China’s reluctance to engage more seriously in military crisis management, warning that talks are the key to avoiding conflict. Open lines of communication between the US and China’s defense and military leaders are critical.
Earlier China’s Defense Minister, General Li Shangfu, declined an invitation to speak with Austin at the conference, although the two shook hands before sitting on opposite sides of the same table when the forum opened on Friday.
“The more we talk, the more we can avoid misunderstandings and miscalculations that can lead to crises or conflicts,” said Austin.
“A friendly handshake at dinner is no substitute for a substantive relationship,” he added as quoted by The Guardian, Saturday (3/6/2023).
The US itself has expanded its activities around the Indo-Pacific to counter territorial claims from China, including regularly sailing and flying over the Taiwan Strait and in the South China Sea.
“We are committed to ensuring that every nation can fly, sail and operate wherever international law permits,” Austin said.
“And every country, big or small, must remain free to carry out lawful maritime activities,” he added.