US warns China over support to Russia; Beijing hits back with “military collusion” with Taipei

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A top US defense official has warned his Chinese counterpart about China’s increasing cooperation with Russia, even as Chinese President Xi Jinping and Russian President Vladimir Putin met and pledged to strengthen ties between the two countries. Ely Ratner, US Assistant Secretary of Defence for Indo-Pacific Security Affairs, spoke by video teleconference with China’s) Major General Li Bin, Director of the Central Military Commission Office for International Military Cooperation, on Friday.

Ratner discussed the relationship between Russia and North Korea as well as “serious concern over China’s support for Russia’s defence industrial base that enables Russia’s war in Ukraine,” the Pentagon said in a readout. Putin was on an official two-day visit to China to mark the 75th anniversary of the establishment of ties between Moscow and Beijing, during which he and his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping pledged a “new era” of partnership.

The US Defense Assistant Secretary also reiterated that the United States remains committed to the ‘One China’ policy, which is guided by the Taiwan Relations Act, the Three US-China Joint Communiques, and the Six Assurances, and he reaffirmed the importance of maintaining peace and stability across the Strait. The US official also spoke with his Chinese counterpart about the escalating tension between China and the Philippines near the South China Sea shoal.

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China, meanwhile has criticised the US of “military collusion” with Taiwan. According to Beijing-headquartered Global Times, the Central Military Commission Office for International Military Cooperation told the US Assistant Secretary of Defense in the video call on Friday that the “military collusion” between the US and Taiwan as well as the “separatist acts” of the “Taiwan independence forces”, are the main sources of disruption to the current stability in the Taiwan Straits.

“China will take resolute and decisive countermeasures against any ‘Taiwan independence’ separatist activities and foreign connivance and support,” the spokesperson noted. China on Friday also criticised a US military vessel’s recent “provocative moves,” stating that the US side’s invocation of the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) reveals its hegemonic nature.

Addressing a press conference in response to a media query about US guided-missile destroyer USS Halsey’s sailing through the Taiwan Strait, a Chinese military spokesperson said, “The Chinese side strongly deplores and firmly opposes this and has lodged solemn representations with the US side.” Friday’s talks between US defense official Ely Ratner with Chinese official Li Ben follows the call in April between US defense secretary Lloyd Austin with China’s defense minister, Admiral Dong Jun.