China hits back at Austin's accusations

China has hit back at US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin for a speech that indirectly accused China of targeting Philippine vessels in the South China Sea.

The deputy chief of the Central Military Commission's Joint Staff Department, Lieutenant General Jing Jianfeng, spoke to reporters on Saturday in Singapore.

He referred to Austin's speech at the Shangri-La Dialogue security forum earlier in the day. Austin said harassment the Philippines has faced is "dangerous."

Lieutenant General Jing said the root cause of escalating tensions in the South China Sea lies in what he called the Philippine's "perfidy and provocations, and US interference."

He rejected the speech as completely unreasonable.

He also accused the US and the Philippines of creating confrontation and crisis, and harming the common interests of regional countries.

Lieutenant General Jing criticized the US for supporting independence and providing weapons to Taiwan in recent years.

He added that the Chinese military will never allow Taiwan to break away from China and will never stop fighting "Taiwan independence" separatist forces.