China tracked two American and Canadian warships transiting through the Taiwan Strait Saturday, even as U.S. Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin warned against conflict in the region.
China’s navy and air force tracked the two vessels throughout the strait, according to a statement from the People’s Liberation Army Eastern Theater Command that blamed the U.S. and Canada for “causing trouble intentionally” and hurting regional peace and stability.
The U.S. Navy conducted a transit through the Taiwan Strait as top American and Chinese military leaders gathered at the Shangri-La Dialogue in Singapore. Earlier Saturday, Austin used a speech at the event to warn that a conflict over Taiwan would “affect the global economy in ways that we cannot imagine.”
China has rebuffed U.S. requests for a meeting between Austin and his Chinese counterpart, Li Shangfu, at the conference, after the Biden administration ruled out removing sanctions placed on Li in 2018. The two leaders did shake hands at a dinner on Friday.
Austin on Saturday reiterated calls for greater communication between the American and Chinese militaries, saying “conflict in the Taiwan Strait would be devastating.”
“For responsible defense leaders, the time to talk is every time, and the right time to talk is now,” Austin said. “I’m deeply concerned that the PRC has been unwilling to engage more seriously on better mechanisms for crisis management between our two militaries. But I hope that will change, and soon.”
The U.S. regularly conducts transits of the narrow strait between Taiwan and China, which regards the self-governing island as its territory. The last publicized one took place in April.
Following Saturday’s transit, the Chinese military vowed to take “all necessary measures” against all threats, provocations and safeguard its national sovereignty, security and regional stability. The statement didn’t make it clear what further actions China planned to take.
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