Chinese Defense Minister: ‘We Will Not Relinquish a Single Inch’ of Taiwan, Hong Kong, or South China Sea



Chinese Defense Minister Gen. Wei Fenghe vowed at the Xiangshan security forum in Beijing on Monday that “the momentum of China’s reunification cannot be stopped by any individuals or forces.”

Wei’s remarks included specific rebukes to pro-democracy activists in Hong Kong and Taiwan.

“We will not relinquish a single inch of territory passed down from our forefathers,” Wei declared, a sentiment widely interpreted as a reference to China’s expansive territorial claims in the South China Sea.

“National reunification is the only rightful path, and pursuing secession is a dead end,” he said, warning “secessionists” in Taiwan that China’s patience with them is limited.

He also stressed that foreign countries will not be allowed to interfere with China’s claims on Taiwan, stating that Beijing will never accept “big stick diplomacy” or “long-arm jurisdiction” from other powers and deriding economic sanctions as “never effective to achieve any results.”

Wei accused the United States of provoking regime change “color revolutions” in other countries – a term used because the first such political upheavals in eastern Europe were branded names like the “Rose Revolution” in Georgia and “Orange Revolution” in Ukraine – and implied the Hong Kong uprising is such an American scheme.

“Wanton interference in other countries’ affairs will never win,” he said. “Interfering in other countries’ domestic affairs, instigating a color revolution or even attempts to subvert the legitimate governments of other countries are the real causes of wars and unrest in different regions.”

The South China Morning Post thought Wei’s speech to the Xiangshan forum was generally “less hawkish” than his address in 2018, possibly because Beijing is interested in repairing relations with the U.S. and presenting itself as a force for “win-win” regional cooperation.

Stars and Stripes, on the other hand, took Wei’s belligerent language as a harbinger of worsening relations with the U.S. and quoted the State Department’s top Asia diplomat, David R. Stillwell, dismissing China’s “preposterous nine-dashed line” in the South China Sea as a grab for territory unsupported by “legal, historic, or geographic merit.”

Stillwell also noted that for all its talk about international respect and rejection of “big stick diplomacy,” China has no qualms about bullying smaller nations like Vietnam into recognizing its claims and aggressively developing islands whose ownership is disputed.