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US won't flinch if interests threatened, says Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin to China

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US | July 28, 2021 2:45:06 AM IST
Amid a diplomatic standoff between the US and China, US Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin has said that Washington does not seek conflict with Beijing but is eager to partner with other powers in the Indo-Pacific region to ensure stability.

"We will not flinch when our interests are threatened. Yet we do not seek confrontation," Austin who is on a tour of south-east Asia said during a speech in Singapore.

"I am committed to pursuing a constructive, stable relationship with China, including stronger crisis communications with the People's Liberation Army. Big powers need to model transparency and communication. We hope we can work together on common challenges, especially climate change," he said further.

Relations between Washington and Beijing have been fractious, and senior diplomats have traded barbs on several occasions since Biden became president. On Monday, Chinese vice-foreign minister Xie Feng accused the US of treating the country as an "imaginary enemy" in a strong message to the visiting US deputy secretary of state, Wendy Sherman.

The Defence Secretary also decried the actions of Myanmar's military rulers and urged a regional bloc to keep demanding an end to the violence.

Austin applauded the Association of Southeast Asian Nations for its efforts to solve the crisis, including a consensus reached with Myanmar's military leader in April.The five-point document calls for an immediate end to violence and the start of a dialogue among contending parties, with a special ASEAN envoy mediating in the talks. However, a special envoy still hasn't been appointed.

"The Myanmar military's refusal to respect the inalienable rights of the Burmese people and to defend their basic well-being is flatly unacceptable," Austin said, adding a military exists to serve its people, not the other way around. "And so we call on the Myanmar military to adhere to the ASEAN five-point consensus and to forge a lasting peace."

He said the US will work with partners in the region to urge Myanmar's military to "move in the right direction" and release civilians it has imprisoned. (ANI)

 
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