• 18 July, 2024
Foreign Affairs, Geopolitics & National Security

US Defence Secretary holds talks with Chinese counterpart, first since 2022

Wed, 17 Apr 2024   |  Reading Time: 2 minutes

Washington [US], April 17 (ANI) United States Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin and his Chinese counterpart Dong Jun held talks in nearly 18 months and discussed US-China defence relations and regional and global security issues, the Pentagon said.
In the meeting held via videoconference on Tuesday, Austin stressed the importance of keeping military-to-military communication lines between the US and China open, it said.
It is the first time since November 2022 that Austin has held talks with his Chinese counterpart when he spoke with the then defence minister of China Wei Fenghe in Cambodia. Dong was appointed China’s Defence minister in December. China then named General Li Shangfu as its defence minister.
In 2018, the US sanctioned Li under the Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA) when he headed the Equipment Development Department of the Chinese military. The sanctions were related to China’s purchase of ten SU-35 combat aircrafts in 2017 and S-400 surface-to-air missile system-related equipment in 2018, according to the State Department, according to a Voice of America report.
Austin and Dong on Tuesday discussed the situations in the South China Sea and around the Taiwan Strait, as well as Russia-Ukraine conflict and North Korea’s weapons development program, according to the Pentagon.
Austin “underscored the importance of respect for high seas freedom of navigation guaranteed under international law — especially in the South China Sea — and reiterated that the United States will continue to fly, sail and operate safely and responsibly, wherever international law allows,” Pentagon Press Secretary Air Force Maj Gen Pat Ryder said during a briefing.
The US secretary reiterated that the US remains committed to its One China Policy, which is guided by the Three Joint Communiques, the Taiwan Relations Act and the Six Assurances.
The video teleconference took place following an agreement between President Joe Biden and his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping last year in November near San Francisco to reopen direct military-to-military talks at several levels.
In January this year, senior US and Chinese defence officials gathered for two days at the Pentagon to discuss defence relations between the two countries.
Earlier this month, US and Chinese officials held talks aimed at ensuring professional and safe interactions between the two countries’ air and naval forces.
High-level military communication channels had been closed since Beijing shut them down to protest the 2022 visit to Taiwan by the then-US. House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi.
China has laid claim on the South China sea while Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines and Vietnam claim the areas around their coasts.
An international court ruled in 2016 that China’s nine-dash line, on which Beijing bases its claim, was without merit.
In his Tuesday meeting with the Chinese defence minister, Austin “underscored the importance of respect for high seas freedom of navigation guaranteed under international law, especially in the South China Sea,” the Pentagon said.
Meanwhile, US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen who was in China recently convened a in Washington a meeting of US-China economic and financial working groups to discuss “balanced growth.”
She told the meeting that the two countries have made progress on areas of common interest through their discussions to date, including efforts to ensure financial stability, combat money laundering and deal with climate change.
“Following my trip to China last week, I met with the chairs of the US-China Economic and Financial Working Groups after their fourth meeting. We discussed areas of common interest like combatting money laundering, promoting balanced growth, and protecting financial stability,” Yellen posted on X. (ANI)

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