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Chinese general takes tough stance on Taiwan and other disputes at international naval gathering

Chinese general takes tough stance on Taiwan and other disputes at international naval gathering

 


QINGDAO One of China's top military leaders has taken a hard line on regional territorial disputes, telling an international naval gathering in northeast China on Monday that the country would retaliate forcefully if its interests are threatened.

The 19th biennial meeting of the Western Pacific Naval Symposium opened in the port city of Qingdao, home to China's northern naval force, providing a striking backdrop to China's massive military expansion over the two recent decades, which has seen China build or renovate three aircraft carriers. .

The four-day meeting brought together representatives from partners and competitors, including Australia, Cambodia, Chile, France, India and the United States, and comes against a backdrop of heightened tensions over China's assertive actions in the Taiwan Strait and the East and South China Seas, and as the Chinese navy has become the largest in the world in terms of number of hulls.

Zhang Youxia, vice chairman of the ruling Communist Party's Central Military Commission, which controls the armed forces, spoke of common development and said decoupling, friction and confrontation would only divide the world into isolated islands. guarding each other with suspicion.

However, he then looked at China's territorial claims, which have not been recognized under international law and, in some cases, have been denied. Beijing ignored decisions that were not favorable to it, particularly in the South China Seawhere it is in conflict with five other parties over islands, waterways and underwater resources.

Japan continues to defend its control over the uninhabited Senkaku island chain, called Diaoyu by China, in the East China Sea against incursions by the Chinese coast guard.

Taiwan last week strengthened its grip in the disputed South China Sea by establishing satellite communications between the main island and its garrison on Taiping Island, also known as Itu Aba, the largest land extent of the highly contested Spratly Islands chain. China has created seven artificial islands in the region by piling sand and cement on coral reefs, then equipping them with airstrips and other military infrastructure.

Zhang said China's territorial sovereignty does not tolerate any infringement and its core interests cannot be challenged. We do not provoke trouble, but we will never shy away from provocation. The Chinese army will resolutely defend reunification and the interests of the motherland. »

Zhang has spoken in the past of Beijing's determination to take control of the autonomous island republic of Taiwan, which it claims as its own territory, using force if necessary. With its crucial high-tech economy, Taiwan strengthens its defenses alone and with the help of the United States, where Congress this weekend approved 8 billion dollars in military aid for Taiwan and the Indo-Pacific.

Taiwan is also building its own submarines and training aircraft and is awaiting delivery of upgraded versions of F-16 fighters, battle tanks and other equipment from the United States.

Zhang appeared to emphasize China's unilateral approach to foreign relations and military conflicts, such as that taken by Xi Jinping, the top military commander, Communist Party leader and lifelong head of state, who eliminated all dissenting opinions.

China remains committed to resolving maritime disputes with countries directly concerned through friendly consultations, but we will not allow our good faith to be abused, Zhang said. Particularly regarding the autonomous island republic of Taiwan, which Beijing is threatening to use force to bring under its control. We will take justified actions to defend our rights in accordance with the law.

Zhang's comments follow a major upheaval in China's military in recent months, which has seen the still unexplained disappearance of former Defense Minister Li Shangfu and several senior missile corps officers.

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Bodeen reported from Taipei, Taiwan.

Copyright 2024 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without permission.

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