China warns US it will 'start a war' if Taiwan declares independence
China on Friday threatened to "start a war" if Taiwan declared independence
The warning came at high-level talks between Lloyd Austin and General Wei
The US and China have long been at loggerheads over Taiwan's status
The meeting between Chinese defence minister General Wei Fenghe and US defence secretary Lloyd Austin at the Shangri-La dialogue, Asia's premier security meeting, got off to a decent start, with General Wei telling reporters that the discussions were "honest and sincere."
However, the meeting soon turned unpleasant as Taiwan came up, with General Wei vowing to "smash" any "independence plot" in the island and "resolutely uphold the unification of the motherland," and Austin urging China to "refrain from further destabilising actions toward Taiwan," AFP reported.
"If anyone tries to split Taiwan from China, the Chinese army will definitely not hesitate to start a war no matter the cost," Chinese defence ministry spokesperson Wu Qian was further quoted as saying by AFP during the meeting.
While further details of the meeting were unavailable at the time of writing this, the warning by China marks the most recent concrete threat to Taiwanese aspirations of independence.
Tensions between the US and China over Taiwan's status had been simmering for a long time, especially of late, in light of Beijing's decision to increase military activity around the self-proclaimed island nation.
China, which claims that Taiwan is an "inalienable" part of the mainland, has long been vocal against calls for Taiwanese independence, something it believes was born out of collusion between Taipei and Washington.
Washington, for its part, has said that it will defend Taiwan if China attempts to take the island by military force, with US President Joe Biden personally saying that the US would rush to Taiwan's aid.
During his trip to Japan earlier in May, Biden was quizzed whether the US would defend Taiwan if China attacked, a question to which Biden replied with a sombre "Yes."
"That's the commitment we made... We agree with a one-China policy. We've signed on to it and all the intended agreements made from there. But the idea that, that it can be taken by force, just taken by force, is just not, is just not appropriate," Biden had added.