China’s defense minister has accused the United States and its allies of trying to destabilize the Indo-Pacific, just hours after warships from the two countries were involved in a near collision.
In a combative speech to the Shangri-La Dialogue security summit in Singapore on Sunday, Li Shangfu accused the U.S. of “provoking bloc confrontation for self-interest” and said Washington and its allies were making up rules to assert dominance over the region.
He also warned that any “severe confrontation” between the US and China would be “an unbearable disaster for the world.”
Li’s warning comes a day after U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin told the same forum a war over Taiwan would be “devastating” and affect the global economy “in ways we cannot imagine.”
Questioned after his speech on the incident, Li said the U.S. naval presence in the strait was an example of Washington creating chaos in the region.
Earlier, the U.S. accused a Chinese warship of cutting in front of an American vessel that was taking part in a joint exercise with the Canadian navy in the Taiwan Strait, forcing the American vessel to slow down to avoid a collision.
Hours earlier, the US Indo-Pacific Command said, a Chinese destroyer had cut across the bow of the USS Chung-Hoon during a joint exercise between American and Canadian navy vessels in the Taiwan Strait.
According to the U.S., the Chinese ship came within 150 yards of the USS Chung-Hoon, less than the length of the Arleigh Burke-class ship itself.
“Chung-Hoon maintained course and slowed to 10 knots to avoid a collision,” the U.S. statement said.
The Chinese ship acted in an “unsafe manner” and “violated the maritime ‘rules of the road’ of safe passage in international waters,” it said.
The incident is the second time in two weeks that Chinese military personnel have engaged in aggressive maneuvers in the vicinity of U.S. military personnel near China’s border.