United States Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin warned Washington would not accept “bullying or coercion” in the Pacific during remarks on China at a key security summit in Singapore on Saturday, June 3.
Speaking at the IISS Shangri-La Dialogue, Austin accused China of conducting “an alarming number of risky intercepts of US and allied aircraft flying lawfully in international airspace.”
“To be clear, we do not seek conflict or confrontation,” he said. “But we will not flinch in the face of bullying or coercion.”
Austin also highlighted Taiwan, saying Washington was opposed to any “unilateral” changes to the island’s status, and calling for better dialogue between US and Chinese military leadership.
“I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: great powers must be beacons of transparency and responsibility. And the United States is deeply committed to doing our part,” he said. Credit: United States Department of Defense via Storyful
LLOYD AUSTIN: The People's Republic of China continues to conduct an alarming number of risky intercepts of US, an Allied aircraft flying lawfully in international airspace. We've all just seen another troubling case of aggressive and unprofessional flying by the PRC. So we will support our allies and partners as they defend themselves against coercion and bullying.
To be clear, we do not seek conflict or confrontation, but we will not flinch in the face of bullying or coercion. Now, all of this is especially important in the Taiwan Strait. Also, like to be clear about another point, United States remains deeply committed to preserving the status quo in the strait, consistent with our long standing one China policy and with fulfilling our well-established obligations under the Taiwan Relations Act.
Our policy is constant and firm. It has held true across US administrations. And we will continue to categorically oppose unilateral changes to the status quo from either side. Also, highlight that conflict is neither imminent or inevitable. Deterrence is strong today, and it's our job to keep it that way.
The whole world has a stake in maintaining peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait, the whole world. The security of commercial shipping lanes and global supply chains depends on it. And so does freedom of navigation worldwide. But make no mistake. Conflict in the Taiwan Strait would be devastating. So we are determined to maintain peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait. And so are a number of other countries around the world, and that number continues to grow.
President Biden has been clear. The United States does not seek a new Cold War, and competition must not spill over into conflict. And the region should never be split into hostile blocs. Instead, we're working to strengthen the guardrails against conflict and to redouble our diplomacy and to bolster peace and security and stability in the region.
United States believes that open lines of communication with the People's Republic of China are essential, especially between our defense and military leaders. For responsible defense leaders, the right time to talk is any time. The right time to talk is every time, and the right time to talk is now. Dialogue is not a reward. It is a necessity. And a cordial handshake over dinner is no substitute for a substantive engagement. And the more that we talk, the more we can avoid the misunderstandings and miscalculations that could lead to crisis or conflict.
I am deeply concerned that the PRC has been unwilling to engage more seriously on better mechanisms for crisis management between our two militaries, but I hope that will change and soon. I've said it before, and I'll say it again, great powers must be beacons of transparency and responsibility. And the United States is deeply committed doing our part. And we are determined to keep this region open, peaceful, and prosperous.