Defense Minister Wei Fenghe told his United States counterpart Mark Esper on Monday in Bangkok that China will never tolerate any move by separatists to actualize “Taiwan independence”.
During their first face-to-face meeting since Esper took office, Wei said that China is always committed to solving the Taiwan question by peaceful means, but will never countenance major “Taiwan independence” acts, according to Senior Colonel Wu Qian, a spokesman for the Defense Ministry.
Wei told Esper that China requests that the US handle the Taiwan question in a discreet and appropriate manner and not bring new unstable elements into the Taiwan Straits, Wu said at a news briefing in the Thai capital after the defense leaders’ meeting.
Speaking of issues pertaining to the South China Sea, the defense minister reiterated China’s determination to safeguard its territorial sovereignty and marine rights and interests and also repeated the country’s resolution to protect the South China Sea’s peace and stability.
“The Chinese side also urges the US side to stop flexing its muscles in the South China Sea and to not provoke and escalate tensions in this region,” Wu said.
The spokesman also said the two defense heads were positive about exchanges between the Chinese and US armed forces, adding that the two militaries will stay in contact to discuss detailed arrangements.
Wei arrived in Bangkok on Friday for a formal visit to Thailand and co-chaired the 10th China-ASEAN Defense Ministers’ Informal Meeting on Sunday. ASEAN is the Association of Southeast Asian Nations.
In another development, the People’s Liberation Army Navy confirmed on Monday that China’s second aircraft carrier sailed through the Taiwan Straits on Sunday as part of a routine sea trial.
The carrier, yet to be commissioned and named, was heading for the South China Sea to carry out a sea trial that would include equipment tests and personnel training, said Senior Captain Cheng Dewei, a spokesman for the PLA Navy.
He called the operation a normal arrangement during the ship’s construction and testing, saying that it was not aimed at any specific target nor related to current situations.
Geng Shuang, a Foreign Ministry spokesman, said on Monday that people should not make a fuss about the carrier sailing through the Taiwan Straits because it was just a normal training operation “at our own doorstep”.
This is the new carrier’s ninth sea trial since its maiden trial in May 2018. Construction of the vessel began in November 2013 in Dalian, Liaoning province. It was launched in April 2017.