The United States should not underestimate China’s determination and capability, Chinese State Councilor and Minister of National Defense Wei Fenghe said on Wednesday during a phone call with US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin.

In the phone conversation, the two Defence Ministers also exchanged views on issues such as maritime and air security and the situation in Ukraine. Mr Wei said that China and the US should earnestly implement the consensus reached by the two heads of state, China’s state-run news agency Xinhua reported.

China hopes to establish sound and stable major-country relations with the United States, Mr Wei said, adding that in the meantime, China will defend its national interests and dignity.

Mr Wei also warned the US “not to underestimate China’s determination and capability”.

The two militaries should enhance mutual trust, strengthen dialogue and exchanges, manage risks and crises, and carry out practical cooperation, so as to ensure the normal and stable development of bilateral military-to-military relations, he said.

If the Taiwan question is not handled properly, it will have a subversive effect on China-US relations, Mr Wei stressed, adding that the “Chinese military will resolutely safeguard national sovereignty, security, and territorial integrity”.

According to Xinhua, US Defence Secretary Austin said that the US will strengthen military exchanges and cooperation with China in a candid and open manner. He said that the two sides should manage competition and risks in a responsible way and properly handle the difficulties facing the two militaries.

Taking to Twitter, Secretay Austin wrote, “We discussed US-PRC defence relations, regional security issues, and Russia’s unprovoked invasion of Ukraine.”

The call was a follow-up to the video conversation between Chinese President Xi Jinping and US President Joe Biden on March 18.

US State Department Spokesperson Ned Price on Monday said that the United States will continue to carefully monitor the level of support China may show towards Russia with respect to Ukraine.

“We’re going to continue to keep a careful eye, a careful watch on the level of support the PRC (People’s Republic of China) exhibits towards Russia,” Mr Price said during a press briefing.

Mr Price added that there will be strong consequences for China if it provides weapons or supplies to Russia for its operation in Ukraine or if it helps Moscow evade Western sanctions.