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Beijing and Washington will resume military communications "in the coming months", assures Austin

The United States and China will resume military communications "in the coming months", assuredé Friday the American Minister of Defense Lloyd Austin, & the outcome of rare discussions à Singapore with its Chinese counterpart described as "positive" by a Beijing spokesperson.

The American and Chinese defense chiefs had “positive, practical and constructive” discussions, said the spokesperson for the Chinese Minister of Defense, Wu Qian, after an hour of talks between Dong Jun and Mr. Austin on the sidelines of the Shangri-La Dialogue, the annual defense forum which is being held until Sunday.

In a report of the discussions communicated by the Pentagon, Mr. Austin assured that the United States and China would resume military communications by telephone “in the coming months”, reaffirming the announcement made by President Joe Biden and Chinese President Xi Jinping in November 2023.

Beijing suspended military discussions with Washington at the end of 2022 in response to the visit to Taiwan by Nancy Pelosi, then Speaker of the House representatives.

The American minister also welcomed the plan to convene a working group on crisis communication with China by the end of the year.

The Chinese defense spokesperson said that relations between the Chinese and American armies had “stopped their decline” and were stabilizing.

He warned, however, that it is not possible for Beijing and Washington to resolve all bilateral issues in one meeting, stressing that US actions in Taiwan seriously violate the one-China principle.

The Shangri-La Dialogue, which brings together defense chiefs from around the world, including French Minister of the Armed Forces Sébastien Lecornu, has in recent years become a barometer of Sino-American relations.

This meeting comes a week after major military maneuvers led by China, during which Chinese warships and fighter planes surrounded Taiwan, including Beijing claims sovereignty.

The island is supported militarily by the United States, which opposes any modification of its status by force, without calling for its independence .

China has accused Taiwan's new president Lai Ching-te of pushing the island towards “war”, calling him a “dangerous separatist”.

Mr. Austin warned his Chinese counterpart Friday that Beijing should not use Taiwan's political transition “as a pretext for coercive measures,” according to a Pentagon statement.

Rivalries in the South China Sea, claimed largely by Beijing, should also feature in the background of this forum.

Beijing takes a very dim view eye Washington's strengthening defense ties in the Asia-Pacific region, particularly with the Philippines, and the regular deployment of warships and combat aircraft to the Taiwan Strait and the South China Sea.

Beijing and Washington will resume military communications "in the coming months", assures Austin

U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin speaks at the Shangri-La Summit in Singapore on June 3, 2023 © AFP – Roslan RAHMAN

The US president's administration and China have stepped up communications to ease friction between nuclear-armed rivals. Secretary of State Antony Blinken visited Beijing and Shanghai last month.

– Points of friction –

Before President Joe Biden and Chinese President Xi Jinping announced a resumption of military dialogue, Austin warned that incidents risked spiraling out of control, particularly in the absence of open lines of communication between the American and Chinese forces.

The meeting between MM. Austin and Dong, their first in person, portends further military talks to ease tensions.

The two officials will also deliver speeches this weekend in which they are expected to discuss a series of sticking points regarding their countries.

Increasingly concerned about the rapid development of China's military capabilities, Washington has strengthened its alliances and partnerships in the region to counter Beijing's growing territorial assertions.

In a communication on the social network he would meet with his regional counterparts and continue his department's work with “like-minded Indo-Pacific partners to advance our shared vision of a free and open region.”

Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos, who has sought to deepen defense cooperation with the United States while opposing Chinese actions in waters off the Philippines, is scheduled to deliver the speech Friday afternoon 'opening of the forum.

All rights of reproduction and representation reserved. © (2024) Agence France-Presse

Teilor Stone

By Teilor Stone

Teilor Stone has been a reporter on the news desk since 2013. Before that she wrote about young adolescence and family dynamics for Styles and was the legal affairs correspondent for the Metro desk. Before joining Thesaxon , Teilor Stone worked as a staff writer at the Village Voice and a freelancer for Newsday, The Wall Street Journal, GQ and Mirabella. To get in touch, contact me through my teilor@nizhtimes.com 1-800-268-7116