“We will fight at all costs and we will fight to the end. This is the only choice for China,” Wei Fenghe said at the “Shangri-La Dialogue” security forum in Singapore.

“Those who pursue Taiwanese independence with the aim of dividing China will certainly not achieve their ends,” he said. “No one should ever underestimate the determination and ability of the Chinese armed forces to safeguard its territorial integrity.”

His speech came the day after statements by US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin denouncing Beijing’s “provocative and destabilizing” military activity near Taiwan.

China considers this democratic and self-governing island of 24 million to be one of its historical provinces, even if it does not control it, and has increased pressure against Taipei in recent years, for example through campaigns incursions into the Taiwan Air Defense Zone.

These actions have increased tensions with the United States, which are already high on many other levels.