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Austin Holds First Discussion with Chinese Counterpart in Nearly Two Years

Credits: CNN

Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and his Chinese counterpart, Minister of Defense Adm. Dong Jun, held an important video teleconference, marking the first high-level military communication between the two countries in nearly two years.

The conversation covered a range of topics, including U.S.-China defense relations, operations in the South China Sea, U.S. policy toward Taiwan, the conflict in Ukraine, and recent provocations from North Korea.

Prior to the call, a senior defense official emphasized the importance of maintaining open lines of communication to prevent competition from escalating into conflict. This dialogue aims to avoid misperceptions, misunderstandings, or miscalculations that could lead to conflict.

Minister of Defense Adm. Dong Jun (Credits: CNN)

The conversation between Austin and Dong is outstanding as it’s the first substantive exchange between the Pentagon chief and a Chinese counterpart since November 2022.

While Austin briefly interacted with Dong’s predecessor in June at a defense forum in Singapore, formal meetings were rejected by China at that time.

The call reflects a broader thaw in diplomatic relations between the U.S. and China, following President Biden‘s meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping in San Francisco five months ago. Since then, the two leaders have also spoken over the phone.

Lloyd Austin (Credits: Business Recorder)

Military communication between the U.S. and China had been limited after China severed most military ties with the U.S. in response to then-House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan in August 2022.

U.S. and Chinese military officials recently met in Hawaii to discuss the Military Maritime Consultative Agreement, aimed at reducing air and sea clashes.

Additional MMCA meetings are expected later this year, signaling ongoing efforts to facilitate communication and engagement between senior defense and military leaders of both countries.

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