US and China to Resume Military Communications Amid High Tensions

US and China to Resume Military Communications Amid High Tensions
US and China to Resume Military Communications Amid High Tensions . REUTERS/Edgar Su
US and China to Resume Military Communications Amid High Tensions
US and China to Resume Military Communications Amid High Tensions . REUTERS/Edgar Su

US and China to Resume Military Communications Amid High Tensions

US and China to Resume Military Communications Amid High Tensions

US and China to Resume Military Communications Amid High Tensions

Key Highlights:

  • US and China will resume military communications in the coming months.
  • First face-to-face meeting between US and Chinese defense chiefs in 18 months.
  • Discussions included Taiwan tensions, South China Sea disputes, and global security.

The United States and China will reestablish military-to-military communications “in the coming months,” US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin announced following his meeting with Chinese counterpart Dong Jun in Singapore on Friday. This interaction, held on the sidelines of the Shangri-La Dialogue, was the first direct meeting between the US and Chinese defense chiefs in 18 months.

The meeting occurred amid heightened regional tensions. Recently, China conducted a significant military drill around Taiwan and has been assertively pursuing territorial claims in the East and South China Seas. Concurrently, Beijing has criticized US efforts to enhance security cooperation with allies such as Japan, South Korea, and the Philippines.

Austin highlighted the necessity of maintaining open military communication channels to prevent misunderstandings and manage crises. He reiterated the plan, confirmed by US President Joe Biden and Chinese President Xi Jinping in November 2023, to resume telephone conversations between theatre commanders soon. Additionally, a crisis-communications working group is expected to be established by the end of the year.

Expressing concerns over China’s military actions around Taiwan, Austin emphasized that Taiwan’s recent political transitions should not be used as pretexts for coercive measures. He reaffirmed the US commitment to its longstanding one-China policy, underpinned by the Taiwan Relations Act and other agreements, and underscored the importance of peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait.

Furthermore, Austin stressed the importance of freedom of navigation in international waters, particularly in the South China Sea. He also addressed global security issues, including Russia’s war against Ukraine and China’s support for Russia’s defense industry, as well as provocations from North Korea contributing to the conflict.

The Shangri-La Dialogue, featuring defense officials from around the world, continues until Sunday, with notable speakers such as Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos.

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