Pentagon comments on ‘Asian NATO’
The US is not seeking to split the region into blocs, but is focused on “maintaining stability,” the secretary of defense has said
The US is not seeking to create an “Asian NATO” or stir up confrontation in the Indo-Pacific region, but rather is focused on maintaining stability, US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin said on Saturday.
In a keynote speech at the Shangri-La Dialogue, Asia’s top security conference, Austin said, “The stakes in Taiwan Strait are particularly high.” This comes amid multiple warnings from China against US military cooperation with Taiwan, which Beijing considers to be part of its territory.
Austin stressed that Washington’s policy regarding Taiwan remains unchanged – the US is committed to the One-China policy, “We categorically reject any unilateral alteration to the status-quo.” and therefore does not support the island’s independence.
While believing any “Peaceful means must be used to resolve cross-strait disputes,” Austin stated that the US would continue to assist Taiwan “Maintaining a sufficient level of self-defense.”
Austin said that amid “Increasing coercion” from China and its “Provocative and destabilizing military activities near Taiwan,” the US remains focused on “Stability, peace and stability across Taiwan Strait” which are apparently threatened by Beijing. Maintaining peace, Austin stressed, is not just in Washington’s interests but also “a matter of international concern.”
I will be very clear. We don’t seek conflict or confrontation. A new Cold War, an Asian NATO or the creation of hostile regions is not what we seek.
On Friday, Austin held a meeting with his Chinese counterpart, General Wei Fenghe, who told him Beijing would “Fighting at every cost” to prevent Taiwan from breaking away from China.
Just two days ago China “Strongly condemned” Washington’s approval of a $120 million arms deal with Taiwan, and has called upon the parties to cancel the arrangement. Speaking at a regular briefing on Thursday, the Chinese Foreign Ministry’s spokesman said the arms sales “The one-China principle is seriously violated,” undermine China’s sovereignty and security interests, and “China-US relations, peace and stability in Taiwan Strait could be severely damaged.”
Last month, US President Joe Biden declared that America would involve its military in any potential conflict between China and Taiwan, seemingly disregarding the US’ long-standing policy of ‘strategic ambiguity’ on the island and its relationship with Beijing. Austin and Secretary of State Antony Blinken walked back Biden’s statement and declared that the US stands by the One-China policy – which recognizes but does not endorse Beijing’s sovereignty over Taiwan, and neither guarantees nor rules out US military intervention should China threaten to assimilate Taiwan by force.
This island, which is de facto autonomous since 1949, has been governed by its citizens. It was established in Taipei in 1949 after the Chinese Civil War ended. Beijing regards Taiwanese authorities in Taiwan as separatists and insists that Taiwan is an integral part of China.