UPDATED 3:58 PM PT – Tuesday, July 27, 2021
Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin warned China the U.S. would not “flinch” when its interests have been threatened, but added the Biden administration would not seek out confrontation. During a speech in Singapore on Tuesday, Austin said he has been committed to pursuing a constructive and stable relationship with China.
The defense secretary specifically noted he wanted stronger crisis communications with the Chinese army and hoped to work with Beijing on addressing common challenges. However, he also called out the communist nation for its claims in the South China Sea by saying they had no basis in international law.
“Unfortunately, Beijing’s unwillingness to resolve disputes peacefully and respect the rule of law isn’t just occurring on the water,” he explained. “We’ve also seen aggression against India, destabilizing military activity and other forms of coercion against the people of Taiwan and genocide and crimes against humanity against Uyghur Muslims in Xinjiang.”
But let me be clear: I am committed to pursuing a constructive, stable relationship w/ China, including stronger crisis communications w/ the PLA. Big powers need to model transparency & communication. We hope we can work together on common challenges, especially climate change. pic.twitter.com/E6KwMZIoRN
— Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III (@SecDef) July 27, 2021
Austin’s comments come as tensions continue to grow between Washington and Beijing.