China's Defence Minster Wei Fenghe lashed out at the United States on Sunday. Picture: Xinhua via Getty Images

SINGAPORE, 13 JUNE 2022 (SKY NEWS) —China’s Defence Minister has lashed out at the United States saying it is trying to turn Pacific nations against Beijing “under the guise of multilateralism” in an attempt to “to create conflict and confrontation”

China’s Defence Minister General Wei Fenghe has accused the United States of trying to “hijack” the Indo-Pacific region by turning nations against Beijing.

U.S Secretary of Defence Lloyd Austin on Saturday lashed out at China for creating instability in the region with its claims to Taiwan.

General Wei responded to the accusations on Sunday declaring Washington is putting its own interests in the Pacific forward “under the guise of multilateralism”.

“No country should impose its will on others or bully others under the guise of multilateralism,” he said.

“The strategy is an attempt to build an exclusive small group in the name of a free and open Indo-Pacific to hijack countries in our region and target one specific country — it is a strategy to create conflict and confrontation to contain and encircle others.”

China has increasingly focused its attention on the Pacific region, with a recent security pact with the Solomon Islands causing concern for Australia and the U.S.

The deal could give Beijing a military base less than 2,000 kilometres from Australian shores but both the Solomon Islands and Chinese governments have denied the claims.

Lloyd said on Saturday there has been “an alarming increase in the number of unsafe aerial intercepts and confrontations at sea” at the hands of Chinese planes and ships.

However General Wei dismissed the “smearing accusation” as he doubled down on the comments against the U.S saying it was “stirring up trouble” with Pacific nations.

“Some big power has long practised navigation hegemony on the pretext of freedom of navigation,” General Wei said.

“It [U.S] has flexed the muscles by sending warships and warplanes on a rampage in the South China Sea.”

The comments follow accusations from the US stating that China had tested a hypersonic missile – a weapon which is harder for missile defence systems to counter.

China denied the accusations claiming it was a “routine test of a spacecraft” – but on Sunday General Wei came close to acknowledging the allegations.

“As for hypersonic weapons, many countries are developing weapons and I think there’s no surprise that China is doing so,” General Wei said.

“China will develop its military.

“I think it’s natural.”

Australian Defence Minister Richard Marles met with General Wei on Sunday where each raised concerns amid rising tensions over the Indo-Pacific.

Marles said he hoped the 2critical first meeting” signals a shift in its relations with China in de-escalating tensions and the end of a diplomatic freeze.

The pair were all smiles as they spoke about the two countries’ “complex” relationship in a “very frank and full exchange”.

“This was an important meeting between two countries of consequence in the Indo-Pacific meeting,” the Australian Defence Minister said.

“It was a critical first step.

“Australia and China’s relationship is complex and it’s precisely because of this complexity that it is really important that we are engaging in dialogue right now,” he said…PACNEWS

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