Beijing will “not hesitate to start a war” if Taiwan declares independence, China’s defence minister warned his US counterpart on Friday in their first face-to-face talks.

“If anyone dares to split Taiwan from China, the Chinese army will definitely not hesitate to start a war no matter the cost,” Chinese Defence Minister Wei Fenghe told US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin.

The Chinese minister also vowed that Beijing would “smash to smithereens any ‘Taiwan independence’ plot and resolutely uphold the unification of the motherland”, according to the Chinese defence ministry.

He “stressed that Taiwan is China’s Taiwan… Using Taiwan to contain China will never prevail”, the ministry


Austin told his Chinese counterpart during the talks that Beijing must “refrain from further destabilising actions toward Taiwan”, the US Department of Defense said.

China and US are attending the 19th Shangri-La Dialogue here. The dialogue will be held from Friday to Sunday after a two-year suspension due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

A US defence official said the actions by the Chinese Army reflect that Beijing may be altering the status quo regarding Taiwan, a democratically controlled island that China claims as its sovereign territory.

“Secretary Austin also raised concerns about … statements by PLA officials that the Taiwan Strait is not international waters. [People’s Republic of China] officials have said that multiple times to the United States over the last several months and that’s deeply concerning,” the official said.

Meanwhile, as per the Chinese media portal Global Times, Wei said that Taiwan island is China’s and the one-China principle is the political basis of China-US ties. China condemns the US’ latest arms sales to the island, Wei added.

During the meeting, Wei told Austin that the Chinese military will not hesitate in crushing any attempt of “Taiwan independence” to defend national unity.

On the other hand, the US said that it is committed to its One China policy and warned that the Chinese military has become increasingly aggressive, unsafe, and unprofessional in the region, a US defense official said after the meeting at the Shangri-La Dialogue.

Upon the recently announced USD 120 million US arms sale to Taiwan, the island’s Defense Ministry said that the new arms sale will cover “spare parts for naval ships and related technical assistance.”

However, the Chinese statement has condemned the arms sale. In a statement, China said, “The US again announced arms sales to Taiwan, which has seriously undermined China’s sovereignty and security interests. China firmly opposes this and strongly condemns it.”

The issue of Taiwan took up the bulk of the meeting between Austin and Wei, the US official said.