China accused the United States of trying to “hijack” support from Asia- Pacific countries to turn them against Beijing .

The United States is trying to force its own interests “using the pretext of multilateralism,” Chinese Defense Minister General Wei Fenghe denounced at a conference in Singapore .

He lashed out at US defense secretary Lloyd Austin’s “scurrilous accusations” made the day before that China is destabilizing the region with its claims on Taiwan and its military activities in the area.

Austin had emphasized the need for multilateral partnerships with Pacific nations, which Wei called an attempt to corner China.

“No country should impose its will on others or abuse others under the guise of multilateralism,” the Chinese official stated.

“This strategy is an attempt to influence a small and exclusive group on behalf of a free and open Indo-Pacific region, an attempt to hijack countries in our region against a specific country. It is a strategy to create conflict and confrontation in order to contain and corner others,” he added.

China has been modernizing its military and trying to expand its influence in the region. It recently signed a security agreement with the Solomon Islands that some fear could lead to the construction of a Chinese naval base in the Pacific, and it has begun expanding a port in Cambodia that could give Beijing access to the Gulf of Thailand.

Last year, US officials accused China of testing a hypersonic missile, though China insists it was “a routine spacecraft test.”

Asked about that test on Sunday, the Chinese minister came close to admitting that it was indeed a hypersonic missile.

“As for hypersonic weapons, many countries are developing weapons and I think it should surprise no one that China is doing the same,” he said.

“China will develop its military forces, I think that is natural,” he added.

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