Chinese Defence Minister Wei Fenghe said on Sunday that it was up to the United States to improve the bilateral relationship, as ties were at a critical juncture.
He also vowed that China will “fight to the very end” to stop Taiwan from declaring independence.
It was the latest salvo in a growing war of words between the superpowers over the self-ruled, democratic island, which Beijing views as part of its territory awaiting reunification.
Frequent Chinese aerial incursions near Taiwan have raised the diplomatic temperature, and on Saturday, US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin accused Beijing of “destabilising” military activity in a speech to the Shangri-La Dialogue security summit.
Defence Minister Wei Fenghe hit back in a fiery address at the same event, saying Beijing had “no choice” but to fight if attempts are made to separate Taiwan from China.
“We will fight at all cost, and we will fight to the very end,” he said.
“No one should ever underestimate the resolve and ability of the Chinese armed forces to safeguard its territorial integrity.”
“Those who pursue Taiwanese independence in an attempt to split China will definitely come to no good end,” he added.
Wei on Sunday also said that it was up to the United States to improve bilateral ties.
Repeating several times at the security meeting that China only sought peace and stability, and was not an aggressor, he called on the United States to “strengthen solidarity and oppose confrontation and division”.
He said China firmly rejected “US smearing, accusations and even threats” in Austin’s speech on Saturday.
“We request the US side to stop smearing and containing China. Stop interfering in China’s internal affairs. The bilateral relationship cannot improve unless the US side can do that,” Wei said.