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War with China over Taiwan would be ‘devastating,’ says Defense Secretary Austin

U.S. Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin warned that a war over Taiwan would have “devastating” effects on the global economy.

Austin made the remark Saturday at the Shangri-La Dialogue security summit in Singapore.

“Conflict is neither imminent nor inevitable. Deterrence is strong today – and it’s our job to keep it that way,” Austin told attendees.

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Lloyd Austin

US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin attends the 20th Shangri-La Dialogue summit in Singapore on June 3, 2023.  (ROSLAN RAHMAN/AFP via Getty Images)

The Shangri-La Dialogue, named after the hotel where the summit has been held since 2002, is attended by representatives from dozens of Asian countries.

“The whole world has a stake in maintaining peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait. The security of commercial shipping lanes and global supply chains depends on it,” the defense secretary said. “And so does freedom of navigation worldwide. Make no mistake: conflict in the Taiwan Strait would be devastating.”

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Shangri-La Dialogue China Germany

German Defense Minister Boris Pistorius greets his Chinese counterpart, General Li Shangfu, during a meeting in Singapore on the occasion of the Shangri-La Dialogue Asian security forum.  ( Britta Pedersen/picture alliance via Getty Images)

Officials from the People’s Republic of China were present at the dialogue, including Austin’s Chinese counterpart, General Li Shangfu.

“Conflict in the Taiwan Strait would affect the global economy in ways we cannot imagine,” Austin said.

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U.S. defense officials have been sounding the alarm that China could launch an invasion on the self-ruled island of Taiwan by 2027, and though Taiwanese residents are divided on their concerns over the imminent threat, they are in apparent agreement in believing the U.S. will not come to their aid.

The U.S., though it does not recognize the island as a sovereign nation under the “One China” policy, has made commitments to Taipei under the Taiwan Relations Act and warned the Chinese Communist Party about making any attempts to change the status quo in the region.  

Lloyd Austin Shangra-La Dialogue

US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin speaks during the 20th Shangri-La Dialogue summit in Singapore on June 3, 2023. (Photo by Roslan RAHMAN / AFP)  ((Photo by Roslan RAHMAN / AFP)  (Photo by ROSLAN RAHMAN/AFP via Getty Images))

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According to the State Department, the U.S. has committed itself to make “available defense articles and services as necessary to enable Taiwan to maintain a sufficient self-defense capability.”

The Taiwan Relations Act also says the U.S. “maintains our capacity to resist any resort to force or other forms of coercion that would jeopardize the security, or the social or economic system, of Taiwan.”

Fox News Digital’s Caitlin McFall and Aishah Hasnie contributed to this report.

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