| 16 April 2024, Tuesday |

Pentagon Chief unable to talk to Chinese military leaders despite repeated attempts

US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin, despite multiple attempts at opening talks, has so far been incapable of talking with China’s Top Commander.

Relationships between China and the USA have increased and the two largest economies worldwide clash between the human rights records of Taiwan and China and their military activities in the South China Sea. China has become a country of increasing importance.

Despite the tensions and heated rhetoric, U.S. military officials have long sought to have open lines of communication with their Chinese counterparts to be able to mitigate potential flare-ups or deal with any accidents.

“The military relationship is strained, no question about that. It’s hard to know how much this is reflective of that strain as much as it is just Chinese intransigence,” a U.S. defense official said.

“But we certainly want to have a dialogue. We just want to make sure we have a dialogue at the proper level,” the official, speaking on the condition of anonymity, added.

China’s Embassy in Washington could not immediately be reached for comment.

A second U.S. official said there was a debate in President Joe Biden’s administration about whether Austin should speak with vice chairman of China’s Central Military Commission, Xu Qiliang, or Chinese Defense Minister Wei Fenghe.

Xu is seen as having more power and influence with Chinese President Xi Jinping.

Later this month in Singapore, Austin would have had the opportunity to meet Wei during a meeting attended by the regional Defense Ministries, but the event was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

First of all, the Financial Times reported the failure of the Pentagon to reach the Chinese.

Senior defense officials from China and the USA held crisis communication talks at the end of last year.

Although high-level military talks have not taken place since Biden came office in January, in Alaska in March senior diplomats from the two countries met. The talks were rancorous and did not produce diplomatic achievements.

  • Reuters