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Austin, who spoke at the International Institute for Strategic Studies in Singapore on Tuesday, said the United States "will not flinch when our interests are threatened," specifically referencing supporting Taiwan, but added that the U.S. is not seeking a "confrontation" with China.
"Unfortunately, Beijing’s unwillingness to resolve disputes peacefully and respect the rule of law isn’t just occurring on the water," he said. "We have 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."
The secretary of defense added that the U.S. will "stay focused on helping Taiwan to defend itself or having the capabilities to defend itself going forward," adding, "The way you manage [disputes] counts."
Austin's trip to the Pacific comes as the Biden administration is changing the military's operations in both Afghanistan and Iraq. The U.S. will have all of its troops out of Afghanistan by Aug. 31, which was moved up from the originally scheduled Sept. 11 end date, while President Joe Biden and Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa al Kadhimi announced on Monday that the U.S.’s combat mission will cease at the end of the year.
Despite the warning, Austin affirmed that the U.S. is "committed to pursuing a constructive, stable relationship with China" and said the country isn't "asking countries in the region to choose between the U.S. and China."
Former U.S. Indo-Pacific Command chief Adm. Phil Davidson warned that China's "ambitions to supplant the United States" makes Taiwan a focal point during testimony in front of the Senate Armed Services Committee in March, according to Defense One. He predicted a "threat" to Taiwan to "manifest during this decade, in fact in the next six years."
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Original Author: Mike Brest
Original Location: Lloyd Austin issues warning to China over Taiwan