Over the weekend, China’s Defense Minister Li Shangfu sharply warned against establishing “NATO-like” alliances in the Indo-Pacific. In an effort to foster such alliances, there is “a form of hijacking regional countries and fueling conflict and confrontation,” Li said at the Shangri-La Dialogue security conference in Singapore on Sunday. It threatens “a vortex of collisions”. First, a Chinese naval vessel and a US warship in the Taiwan Strait came very close (see video above).
The Indo-Pacific includes the northern Indian Ocean, the western central Pacific and some adjacent seas, including their islands. This space needs “open and inclusive collaboration and not involvement in small cliques,” Li said in his speech. A “violent conflict or confrontation between China and the United States” would cause the world “excruciating pain”.
Alliances as a counterweight to China
Li’s comments reflect long-standing Chinese criticism of US efforts to solidify alliances in the region and counter China’s rise. A year and a half ago, the United States, Australia and Great Britain founded the Indo-Pacific security alliance Aukus – in response to China’s growing influence in the region. Washington is also a member of what is known as the Quad Group along with India, Japan and Australia. The alliance also aims to counterbalance China’s military and economic power claims.
The United States sees China as the world’s biggest geopolitical challenge. There are a number of points of contention between the two states, including trade and China’s handling of Taiwan and the conflict with Ukraine. Beijing regards Taiwan as a breakaway region that it wants to reunite with the mainland – by military force if necessary. China’s defense minister made it clear: “If anyone dares to separate Taiwan from China, the Chinese military will not hesitate for a moment.”
Dangerous incident in the Taiwan Strait
Only on Saturday did a dangerous encounter take place between the Chinese and US armies in the strait between the island of Taiwan and mainland China. A Chinese naval ship approached the US destroyer USS Chung-Hoon in an “unsafe manner”, the US military said. The Chinese ship caught up with the Chung-Hoon in the Taiwan Strait at a distance of only about 140 meters. US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin described the incident as “extremely dangerous”. The Chinese ship passed “probably 150 feet” in front of the Chung-Hoon. He called on Beijing to “really take the right measures to curb this kind of behaviour”. Otherwise, “accidents could happen that could cause things to spiral out of control,” Austin told reporters in Singapore.
I am Wallace Jones, an experienced journalist. I specialize in writing for the world section of Today Times Live. With over a decade of experience, I have developed an eye for detail when it comes to reporting on local and global stories. My passion lies in uncovering the truth through my investigative skills and creating thought-provoking content that resonates with readers worldwide.