China’s new defense minister Li Shangfu has threatened a military conquest of Taiwan. Ahead of the Asian security conference Shangri-La Dialogue in Singapore, General Li Shangfu, in a meeting with the city-state’s Defense Minister Ng Eng Hen, said China seeks peaceful “reunification” but will not allow the Taipei-ruling Progressive Party ( DPP) striving for independence.
“We will never promise to refrain from using force,” Chinese state media quoted him on Friday as saying about the meeting the day before. “China must be united.” The Chinese leadership will resolutely defend national sovereignty and territorial integrity, said the general, who is taking part in the security dialogue for the first time. Federal Defense Minister Boris Pistorius also arrived in Singapore on Friday for the meeting.
China regards Taiwan as part of the People’s Republic
China regards the democratic island republic as part of the People’s Republic. However, Taiwan, which today has a population of 23 million, has had an independent government for more than seven decades. After Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, concerns have grown that China could use similar violence against Taiwan.
The United States has committed itself to the island’s ability to defend itself, which has so far primarily meant arms deliveries. US President Joe Biden had pledged to use US troops to help Taiwan in the event of a Chinese attack.
US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin, who is also attending the Singapore conference, asked his Chinese counterpart Li Shangfu to meet on the sidelines. However, the Chinese side rejected this. One point of contention is that the US imposed sanctions on the general in 2018, which Beijing is demanding are lifted. In any case, there is largely radio silence between the two countries, as relations have fallen to a low point.