China said it would not tolerate “any Taiwan independence incidents” and urged the United States not to provoke any further problems or interference in the region.
This latest incident reported by Reuters involved the “Chinese carrier ship passed through the Taiwan Strait on Sunday, tailed by U.S. and Japanese ships.”
US Defense Secretary Mark Esper and Chinese Defense Minister Wei Fenghe met in Bangkok where they are attending a summit with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and other countries.
Wei is reported to have told Esper that China is determined to maintain “peace and stability in the South China Sea and demands the US stop flexing its muscles in the South China Sea and do not provoke and escalate tension in the South China Sea.” They also discussed the unrest in Hong Kong and a host of other security-related issues.
The day before, Esper had publicly accused Beijing of “increasingly resorting to coercion and intimidation to advance its strategic objectives” in the region.
Esper acknowledged in a Tweet that the two discussed “how our two nations can continue a relationship focused on maintaining the international rules based system.”
Met w/China’s MinDef Wei Fenghe to discuss how our two nations can continue a relationship focused on maintaining the international rules based system we’ve known for 70 yrs. The US seeks a #FreeAndOpenIndoPacific w/respect for national sovereignty & peaceful dispute resolution. pic.twitter.com/QqF6fmZhVV
— Secretary of Defense Dr. Mark T. Esper (@EsperDoD) November 18, 2019
Chinese Defense Ministry spokesman Wu Qian said in a follow-up to the meeting:
“We (call on) the US side to stop intervening in the South China Sea and stop military provocation in the South China Sea.”
The US has routinely sent naval warships and aircraft to both the South China Sea and Taiwan Strait ostensibly to uphold that rules-based system. Concerning the new Chinese-made carrier conducting movements through the Taiwan Strait and into the South China Sea, a PLA Navy spokesman said it was “normal practice” for carriers that are in development to conduct such traverses and tests, and that “It is not aimed at any specific target and has nothing to do with the current situation.”