SINGAPORE ( Associated Press) — U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin on Saturday insisted on U.S. support for Taiwan, hinting that recent Chinese military activity around the self-governing island threatens to change the status quo in the region. .
Austin highlighted the “steady increase in provocative and destabilizing military activity near Taiwan,” including almost daily military flights near the island by the People’s Republic of China. The defense secretary was speaking in Singapore on the sidelines of the so-called Shangri-La Dialogue, Asia’s main annual defense forum.
“Our policy hasn’t changed, but unfortunately that doesn’t seem to be true for the PRC,” he added.
Austin said Washington remains committed to a “one China policy,” which recognizes Beijing but allows informal relations and defense ties with Taipei.
Taiwan and China were separated during a civil war in 1949, but China claims the island as its own territory and is not ruling out using military force to take it over.
China has stepped up its military provocations against Taiwan’s democratic government in recent years, aiming to intimidate it into accepting Beijing’s demands to unify with the communist-ruled mainland.
“We remain focused on maintaining peace, stability and the status quo across the Taiwan Strait,” Austin said in his speech. “But the PRC’s moves threaten to undermine security, stability and prosperity in the Indo-Pacific.”
He drew a parallel to the Russian invasion of Ukraine, saying that the “indefensible attack on a peaceful neighbor has galvanized the world and… has reminded us all of the dangers of undermining an international order rooted in rules and respect.”
“The rules-based international order is just as important in the Indo-Pacific as it is in Europe,” Austin added.
Rising reported from Bangkok