USA-DEFENSE-CHINA: Verbal escalation between the United States and China on the Pacific
by Ben Blanchard
(Reuters) – Verbal escalation between the United States and China escalated on Thursday, with the US Secretary of Defense vowing “not to give an inch” in the dispute between the two countries in the Pacific , Beijing claiming for its part that the lives of American soldiers are in danger.
Relations between the United States and China have continued to grow strained in recent months, Washington reproaching Beijing pell-mell for its management of the coronavirus epidemic, its strengthened control over Hong Kong, its territorial ambitions at sea of Southern China.
On Wednesday, the United States added 24 Chinese companies and people Washington said in military maneuvers in the South China Sea to its blacklist.
In Hawaii, US Secretary of Defense Mark Esper accused Beijing of wanting to develop a major military modernization program in order to project its power on a global scale.
“To advance the agenda of the Chinese Communist Party, the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) continues to pursue an aggressive modernization plan to achieve a world-class army by the middle of the century,” he said. he says.
“This will undoubtedly have an impact on the PLA’s provocative attitude in the South and East China Seas, and anywhere else the Chinese government considers critical to its interests.”
The United States wants, however, “to continue, hopefully, to work with the People’s Republic of China to bring it back on a course more in accordance with the order established on the basis of international rules”, he added.
Speaking ahead of a regional tour, Mark Esper described the Indo-Pacific area as the epicenter of “great power competition with China”.
He added: “We are not going to cede an inch of land in this region (…) to another country, to any other country that thinks that its form of government, its convictions on human rights, sovereignty, freedom of press, religion and assembly (…) are somehow better than what many of us share, “he explained.
The Chinese Defense Ministry said in response to the remarks that “some American politicians” wanted to harm Sino-American relations in the run-up to the November 3 elections by even seeking to create military conflicts.
“This type of behavior endangers the lives of frontline officers and soldiers on both sides,” ministry spokesman Wu Qian said Thursday at a press briefing.
China is not afraid of “provocations and pressures” from the United States, will defend itself resolutely and will not allow the United States to sow trouble, he added.
“We hope that the American side will truly adopt a strategic vision, will consider the development of China with an open and rational attitude,” he concluded.
(Ben Blanchard in Taipei; with Cate Cadell and Yew Lun Tian in Beijing; French version Claude Chendjou, edited by Jean-Michel Bélot)