OAN’s Noah Herring
4:41 PM – Monday, June 5, 2023
China’s defense minister recently defended their warship that sailed directly in front of an American Destroyer and Canadian frigate traveling through the Taiwan Straight, telling some of the world’s top defense officials that “freedom of navigation” patrols are provocation to China.
The Taiwan Strait is a 180-kilometer-wide strait separating the island of Taiwan and continental Asia.
General Li Shangfu said that China does not have any problems with “innocent passage,” but that they “…Must prevent attempts that try to use those freedom of navigation (patrols), that innocent passage, to exercise hegemony of navigation.”
He also warned that any “severe confrontation” between the U.S. and China would be “an unbearable disaster for the world.”
This warning came just hours after the U.S. accused the Chinese warship of cutting in front of an American vessel. According to U.S. officials, the Chinese ship came within 150 yards of the USS Chung-Hoon forcing it to slow down to avoid collision.
When questioned after his speech on the incident, Li placed blame on Washington D.C. creating chaos in the region.
“They are not here for innocent passage, they are here for provocation,” Li said
Li maintained that if any country wants to avoid confrontation with China, then they should not send their military assets near them.
“The best way is for the countries, especially the naval vessels and fighter jets of countries, not to do closing actions around other countries’ territories,” he said. “What’s the point of going there? In China we always say, ‘Mind your own business.’”
U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said that the U.S. was stepping up and strategizing with “friends from the East China Sea, to the South China Sea, to the Indian Ocean,” in order to “deter aggression and to deepen the rules and norms that promote prosperity and prevent conflict.”
Li said that “China is open to communications between our two countries and also between our two militaries,” but has declined to meet after a request from Austin.
“History has proven time and again that both China and the United States will benefit from cooperation and lose from confrontation,” Li Said.
“China seeks to develop a new type of major-country relationship with the United States. As for the U.S. side, it needs to act with sincerity, match its words with deeds, and take concrete actions together with China to stabilize the relations and prevent further deterioration,” he continued.
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