U.S. Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin urged China to continue communication with the United States to avoid any unnecessary conflicts. Photo by Bonnie Cash/UPI | License Photo
June 3 (UPI) -- U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin on Saturday rebuked China for not taking crisis management between the two countries "seriously" while Beijing's military chief responded with sharp criticism.
Austin, speaking at the Shangri-La Dialogue in Singapore, urged China to continue to engage in security talks with Washington to avoid any unintended clashes, saying that open lines of communication with Beijing were essential to avoid any possible conflicts.
"I am deeply concerned that the [China] has been unwilling to engage more seriously on better mechanisms for crisis management between our two militaries," Austin said. "The United States does not seek a new Cold War. And competition must not spill over into conflict."
Austin also addressed the issue of Taiwan, saying that aggressive moves by China could create a similar scenario to Russia's invasion of Ukraine.
He talked about "how dangerous our world would become if big countries could just invade their peaceful neighbors with impunity."
However, a Chinese general who also spoke in Singapore responded that Austin was distorting the facts and that the United States was responsible for changing the status of the Taiwan strait.
"First, there is only one China in the world, and Taiwan is a sacred and inalienable part of the Chinese territory," Lt. Gen. Jing Jianfeng, deputy chief of the Central Military Commission's Joint Staff Department, said in a statement carried by official media.
"Second, the one-China principle is the common consensus of the international community and it is the proper obligation of abiding by norms governing international relations," he added
Meanwhile, Japan, the United States and Australia all agreed to expand joint military drills on the sidelines in Singapore.
The three nations "strongly opposed any destabilizing and coercive unilateral actions that may escalate tensions in the East China Sea," they declared in a joint statement.