Chinese Defense Minister Wei Fenghe says relations with the US are at a critical juncture, warning Washington to “stop harming China’s interests”.

Addressing the Shangri-La Dialogue security summit in Singapore, Wei hit back at Pentagon chief Lloyd Austin accusing Beijing of “destabilizing” military activity.

He said Beijing had “no choice” but to fight if attempts are made to separate Taiwan from China. “We will fight at all cost, and we will fight to the very end,” he said.

Wei urged Washington to “stop smearing and containing China… stop interfering in China’s internal affairs and stop harming China’s interests”. 

Wei said Washington is trying to “hijack” countries in the Indo-Pacific region, noting US President Joe Biden’s new strategy leads to “conflict and confrontation” there.

He was referring to Indo-Pacific Economic Framework, or IPEF, the US announced in May. The IPEF involves 13 countries, excluding China.

“To us, the strategy is an attempt to build an exclusive small group in the name of a free and open Indo-Pacific, to hijack countries in our region and target one specific country,” he said.

“It is a strategy to create conflict and confrontation to contain and encircle others,” he said. 

“China seeks peace and stability, and is not an aggressor in the Indo-Pacific,” he said, calling on Washington to “strengthen solidarity and oppose confrontation and division.” 

‘Impressive progress’ in nuclear weapons 

Wei told delegates at the Singapore summit that China had achieved “impressive progress” in the field of nuclear weapons.

China “has always pursued an appropriate path to developing nuclear capabilities for protection of our country,” he said.

However, Wei noted, Beijing will only use them for defending the nation, never starting a nuclear war, nor ever use nuclear weapons first.

“China’s … policy is consistent. We use it for self defense. We will not be the first to use nuclear (weapons).”

The ultimate purpose of China’s nuclear arsenal is to prevent a nuclear war, he pointed out.

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