- China will "fight to the very end" to stop Taiwan's independence, the Chinese defense minister said.
- Wei Fenghe's speech was the latest in a series of exchanges between China and the US over Taiwan.
- On Saturday, the US Defense Secretary accused China of "provocative" military activity near Taiwan.
China will "fight to the very end" to stop Taiwanese independence, the country's defense minister said on Sunday in a combative speech in which he also referred to the US as a "bully."
"Let me make this clear," Wei Fenghe said at the Shangri-La Dialogue security summit in Singapore, per The Washington Post. "If anyone dares to secede Taiwan from China, we will not hesitate to fight. We will fight at all costs. And we will fight to the very end."
Wei's speech was the latest in a weekend of aggressive exchanges between Chinese and US military chiefs over the issue of Taiwan — the self-ruled, democratic island that China views as part of its territory.
"No one should ever underestimate the resolve and ability of the Chinese armed forces to safeguard its territorial integrity," Wei said, per AFP.
Accusing Washington of "interfering in China's internal affairs," he added that "those who pursue Taiwanese independence in an attempt to split China will definitely come to no good end."
A day earlier, US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin accused China of a "steady increase in provocative and destabilizing" military activity near the island. This includes Chinese military aircraft flying near Taiwan in "record numbers in recent months," he said.
"We remain focused on maintaining peace, stability, and the status quo across the Taiwan Strait," he said on Saturday at the same event. "But the PRC's (People's Republic of China's) moves threaten to undermine security, and stability, and prosperity in the Indo-Pacific. And that's crucial for this region, and it's crucial for the wider world."
"Maintaining peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait isn't just a US interest. It's a matter of international concern," Austin continued.