This June 3rd, the Shangri-La Dialogue, held annually in Singapore to address security issues in the Asia-Pacific zone, could launch a dialogue between Beijing and Washington. But “Hopes quickly dashed” note South China Morning Post (SCMP) : “The American and Chinese delegations returned to their usual positions” about Taiwan. US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin “emphasized his desire to strengthen his regional alliances” and continue to protect the Taiwan Strait from any “aggression or intimidation”. By his side “Chinese military official justifies national military action” and accused Austin of“baseless accusations”.

Tensions have escalated in recent months, if not years, over Taiwan, an island whose autonomy the US supports and China sees as an apostate province calling for a return to its fold. Both Beijing and Washington have said they are ready to use their military power. The Chinese army is conducting military exercises on the outskirts of Taiwan, and the United States is selling weapons to it.

Two warships in the strait

In Singapore “Perhaps high-ranking Chinese and American military officials shook hands,” both sides, speaking in different contexts, quickly “eliminated any hope of meeting Austin and his Chinese counterpart, Li Shangfu.” What, on the other hand, kept “On the sidelines of this conference, bilateral negotiations were held with our colleagues from Malaysia, Germany, Great Britain, Australia, Japan and South Korea,” writes a Hong Kong newspaper.

In the same time, “US destroyer USS Chung-Hoon and Canadian frigate HMCS Montreal crossed the Taiwan Strait”, also notes SCMP.

A spokeswoman for the US Navy spoke about the routine operation, “in waters where there is free navigation and overflight in accordance with international law”, US media reports CNN.

On the Chinese side, Lieutenant General Jing Jianfeng, for his part, condemned the frequent passage of American military buildings through the Taiwan Strait, as well as American attempts to push other countries to “interfere” on the Taiwan question. In his opinion, Washington thus encourages “the island’s desire for independence, thereby forcing the People’s Liberation Army [APL] step up their military exercises in the area,” summarizes SCMP.

“The PLA is ready at any moment to defend the sovereignty, reunification and territorial integrity of China,” the lieutenant general said.

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