Speaking at the Moscow Conference on International Security, Li said attempts to “use Taiwan to contain China,” would “surely end in failure,” according to state-run news agency Xinhua.
Li’s comments echoed previous statements by Chinese officials but the location of his speech was significant and symbolic given Moscow’s ongoing invasion of Ukraine.
China’s ruling Communist Party claims the self-governing democracy of Taiwan and has vowed to take control of it, by force if necessary. It has repeatedly castigated American interactions with the island, with which Washington does not have official diplomatic ties, including for the sale of US arms to Taipei.
Li, who was sanctioned by the US in 2018 for purchases of Russian weapons, joined the Moscow security conference as he began a six-day trip to Russia and its close ally Belarus.
Senior defense officials from more than 20 “friendly states,” including Belarus, Iran and Myanmar will also attend the forum, Russian state media previously reported, citing Moscow’s defense ministry, which organizes the annual event. No Western countries were invited, state media said.
The visit is Li’s second to Russia since assuming his role as defense chief earlier this year. It comes as Beijing has continued to bolster its security ties with Moscow, despite its unrelenting assault on Ukraine, which has triggered a humanitarian disaster with global ramifications.