US Defense Secretary Austin Asserts Opposition to Chinese Coercion and Bullying
US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin addressed the issue of Chinese assertiveness during his speech at the Shangri-La Dialogue, a prominent defense forum. He reiterated the United States’ firm stance against Chinese coercion and bullying towards its allies and partners.
Austin emphasized the importance of a “free, open, and secure Indo Pacific within a world of rules and rights” as the best approach to counter China’s increasing assertiveness in the region.
Austin highlighted the US commitment to upholding international law, particularly in relation to maritime activities.
He emphasized that every country, regardless of size, should have the freedom to conduct lawful activities in accordance with international law.
Austin also stressed the importance of alliances and partnerships. Emphasizing that the US is doubling down on its commitment to its allies in the Indo-Pacific region.
The US Defense Secretary outlined various areas where the United States is actively engaged in the Indo-Pacific region.
Austin mentioned the US’s efforts in providing COVID-19 vaccines, disaster relief, and humanitarian assistance during the pandemic.
He also emphasized the US commitment to combat climate change, illegal fishing, and ensuring stable supply chains. All of which are of great importance to nations in the Asian-Pacific region.
Austin expressed the US commitment to deterring North Korea’s missile threat and China’s claims on Taiwan. He assured that the US has been actively involved in defense planning, coordination, and training with partner nations.
Austin made it clear that the US does not seek conflict or confrontation. But it will stand firm against bullying and coercion.
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Chinese Coercion Importance of Maintaining Peace and Stability
Austin reaffirmed the US’s deep commitment to the longstanding one-China policy while opposing unilateral changes to the status quo by either side.
He emphasized that conflict is not imminent or inevitable, highlighting the importance of maintaining peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait.
Austin drew attention to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine as an example of the dangers posed by big countries invading their peaceful neighbors with impunity.
While attending the forum, Austin extended an invitation to China’s defense minister, General Li Shangfu, for substantive engagement. However, Li declined the invitation.
Austin expressed his disappointment, stating that a mere handshake over dinner is insufficient and that meaningful dialogue is necessary to address key issues.
Austin echoed Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese’s call for China to engage in regular, direct communications to prevent potential conflicts.
He stressed the importance of continuous dialogue and the need to start discussions immediately.
In summary, US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin delivered a clear message against Chinese coercion and bullying, highlighting the US commitment to maintaining a free and open Indo-Pacific region.
Austin emphasized the significance of upholding international law, supporting allies, deterring threats, and promoting peace.
He called for substantive engagement and direct communication to address key challenges and maintain stability in the Taiwan Strait.