China demands US to end “wrong acts” that heighten tensions

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China demands US to end “wrong acts” that heighten tensions

Chinese Defense Minister Wei Fenghe on Thursday demanded that the United States stop its “wrong words and actions” during a telephone conversation with its American counterpart, Mark Esper, the Xinhua news agency reported.

This is one of the few direct talks in recent months between senior officials from both countries.

Beijing and Washington have strengthened ties on a number of issues, including the next historic visit to Taiwan by a US minister.

The United States will send Health Secretary Alex Azar to Taipei, which will lead the highest-level delegation since 1979 when the Americans cut diplomatic relations with the island to recognize the People’s Republic of China.

This visit is considered a provocation by the communist government, which considers Taiwan as part of its territory and opposes any official relationship between the island’s authorities and foreign countries.

Bilateral tensions have also been fueled by the South China Sea. Beijing almost entirely justifies the islands in this vast maritime area.

The United States considers these claims to be excessive in relation to other neighbors (Vietnam, Philippines, Malaysia, Brunei) and frequently sends ships or aircraft carriers to the region, in the name of “freedom of navigation”.

“Wei Fenghe demanded that the United States end its wrong words and actions,” Xinhua reported.

The minister also asked Washington “to strengthen its risk management at sea, avoid taking dangerous initiatives that could lead to escalation and maintain regional peace and stability.”

On Thursday, Wang Wenbin, a spokesman for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of China, promised during a news conference “strong reprisals” for the US minister’s visit to Taiwan.

This dispute adds to the long list of issues that keep China and the United States at odds, such as the management of the COVID-19 pandemic, Huawei, the treatment of Uighur Muslims, the TikTok app, or the recent national security law in Hong Kong.