Asia-Pacific

China will defend its claims over Taiwan

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China will fight anyone who tries to interfere in its "reunification" with Taiwan, its Defence Minister says in a speech peppered with threats against the US.

China's defence minister has warned its military will "resolutely take action" to defend Beijing's claims over self-ruled Taiwan and disputed South China Sea waters.

Speaking at an annual security conference in Singapore on Sunday, Wei Fenghe says: "Should anybody risk crossing the bottom line, the PLA will resolutely take action and defeat all enemies ... and fight to the end".

The PLA stands for the People's Liberation Army.

Chinese Defense Minister General Wei Fenghe makes a speech at the Asia Security Summit in Singapore.
Chinese Defense Minister General Wei Fenghe makes a speech at the Asia Security Summit in Singapore.
AAP

He defended China's right to build "limited defence facilities" in the contested South China Sea, where its sweeping claims are challenged by several smaller neighbours.

On Saturday, US Acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan told the same gathering that China's efforts to militarise man-made outposts in the South China Sea are a "toolkit of coercion," saying activities by Beijing the US perceives as hostile must end and the US would no longer "tiptoe" around Chinese behaviour in Asia.

China has been incensed by recent moves by US President Donald Trump's administration to increase support for self-ruled and democratic Taiwan, including US Navy sailings through the Taiwan Strait that separates the island from mainland China.

Defence ministers hold talks in Singapore on the sidelines of the Asia Security Summit.
Defence ministers hold talks in Singapore on the sidelines of the Asia Security Summit.
KYDPL KYODO

"No attempts to split China will succeed. Any interference in the Taiwan question is doomed to failure," said Wei, dressed in his uniform of a general in the People's Liberation Army.

The US, like most countries, has no formal ties with Taiwan, but is its strongest backer and main source of weapons.

China translates the word "tong yi" as "reunification", but it can also be translated as "unification", a term in English preferred by supporters of Taiwan independence who point out the Communist government has never ruled Taiwan and so it cannot be "reunified".

China-US ties have become increasingly strained due to a bitter trade war, US support for Taiwan and China's muscular military posture in the South China Sea, where the US also conducts freedom-of-navigation patrols.

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