Beijing rejects Pentagon’s request for high-level military dialogue
Beijing rejected the Pentagon’s request for senior Chinese officials to hold talks with the new US Secretary of Defense, complicating relations between the two countries as tensions between the world’s two most powerful military forces increase.
US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin (Lloyd Austin) has made three requests to speak with General Xu Qiliang, Vice Chairman of the Central Military Commission and member of the Politburo Standing Committee, China’s top military official. According to the trio, after the deadlock, China refused to participate.
US officials have stated that they do not want to hold high-level meetings with China for this purpose, especially after senior foreign policy officials from these countries have participated in public diplomacy. Spit In Alaska in March.
However, the Biden administration believes that due to the increased tension in the Indo-Pacific region, it is important for Austin to engage in dialogue with Xu. With the Chinese navy and air force carrying out aggression near Taiwan, the ties between the two militaries have become increasingly close, especially in the South China Sea.
An official from the US Department of Defense told the Financial Times about the call request between Austin and Xu: “The Chinese military did not respond.”
According to another official, in addition to a stalemate over Austin’s demands, General Mark Millley, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, had not spoken with his counterparts since early January until Joe Biden was sworn in.
Since Biden took office, these countries have protected everything from the suppression of Uighurs in Xinjiang to China’s military activities around Taiwan. China as an imperial power attacked the United States.
In March, when US officials told the British Financial Times that President Xi Jinping was in office, China flew a record number of fighters and bombers into Taiwan’s air defense identification zone in March. flirt Attempt to occupy Taiwan. Although some experts believe that the threat is not that serious, many believe that Taiwan is a dangerous hotspot.
Earlier this year, Chinese fighter jets simulated a missile attack on the USS Theodore Roosevelt near Taiwan. China also holds a positive view of the disputed Senkaku Islands in the East China Sea. The islands are managed by Japan but claimed by Beijing.
Austin originally planned to travel to Singapore to participate in the Shangri-La Defense Forum in June, and it is expected that Chinese Defense Minister Wei Fenghe will attend. Due to Covid-19 concerns, the event has been cancelled this week.
US defense officials said that discussions about the meeting with Wei in Beijing are already under discussion. But he said that Austin, the fourth-largest member of the U.S. cabinet, chose to hold a meeting to promote the call with Xu. In China’s political and military system, Xu ranks higher than Wei.
A US official said: “We believe that the appropriate counterpart is the vice chairman of the Central Military Commission.”
Jim Mattis met Xu in Beijing in 2018 during President Donald Trump’s term as Secretary of Defense. But China almost always provides the Minister of Defense instead. This is increasingly frustrating the United States, because he has little power in the Chinese system and has not served as a member of the 25 Politburo that governs China.
The White House is divided on how Austin should handle this issue. Some National Security Council officials opposed Austin and Wei’s exchanges. The other group has weaker resistance, but hope Austin will use any meeting or phone call to tell Wei that he will only talk with the vice chairman of CMC.
NSC declined to comment. The first defense official confirmed that there had been a split, but declined to provide any details. The Chinese Embassy in Washington did not respond to a request for comment.
Bonnie Glaser, a China expert at the German Marshall Foundation, said that it is important for the Pentagon to be able to contact real military decision makers, and pointed out that CMC exercises command over PLA.
She said: “In order to address the US’s growing concerns about Chinese military operations and measures to reduce risks to avoid conflicts between US and Chinese forces in close combat operations, the focus should be on CMC.”
Although some officials and experts said Austin should insist on talking to Xu, others said that even if Beijing continues to arrange phone calls with the vice chairman of the Central Military Commission, the United States must maintain communication with the Chinese military, which is very important.
Heino Klinck, a former Pentagon Asian official who served as a defense officer in China for many years, said that due to the different structures of the two countries’ armies, it has been challenging the agreement to meet with China.
Klink said: “Given the situation in Taiwan and other countries such as the East China Sea and the South China Sea, and China’s attempts to coerce our major allies and partners such as Australia, it is important to have clear communication,”
“We need to convey to the Chinese what our own red lines are, because they convey their red lines.”
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