Chinese Defense Minister Wei Fenghe told U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin that Taiwan is a part of China during the first phone call between the two defense leaders.
Wei told Austin Wednesday that no one could change Taiwan’s status as part of China, warning that “If the Taiwan issue were not handled properly, it would have a damaging impact on Sino-U.S. relations,” according to Reuters.
A Pentagon spokesperson told Fox News Digital that Austin stressed that the U.S. remains committed to the one China policy but did not confirm or deny Wei’s remarks.
The call was a follow-up to a recent call between President Biden and Chinese President Xi Jinping, with Austin and Wei discussing U.S.-Chinese defense relations, according to Pentagon Press Secretary John Kirby. Austin and Wei also discussed Russia’s ongoing invasion of Ukraine.
China has vowed to strengthen its ties to Russia despite being pressed by the U.S. and NATO to apply more pressure to Moscow amid Russia’s ongoing war in Ukraine.
“No matter how global dynamics evolve, China will, as usual, strengthen strategic coordination with Russia,” the Chinese foreign ministry assured Russian ambassador to China Andrey Denisov Tuesday.
The comments came just weeks after Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi joined with his Russian counterpart, Sergei Lavrov to call Western sanctions of Russia as “illegal” and “counter-productive.”