US says meeting with China is step in line of communication effort

US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin

By Idrees Ali

BANGKOK (Reuters) – U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said on Monday that his meeting with China’s defense minister was an important step in efforts to develop lines of communication between the two militaries.

Austin and Chinese Defense Minister General Wei Fenghe met behind the scenes at the Dialogue Shangri-La security summit in Singapore for nearly an hour on Friday, with both sides holding their opposing views on Taiwan’s right to self-governance. .

Despite tensions between the United States and China, US military officials have long sought to have open lines of communication with their Chinese counterparts in order to mitigate potential problems or deal with any accidents.

“It was an important step in our efforts to develop open lines of communication with the leadership of the People’s Liberation Army… It was an important opportunity to raise our concerns about the potential for instability in the Taiwan Strait,” Austin told reporters during a visit to the Thailand.

The United States is Taiwan’s most important international supporter and arms supplier, a source of constant friction between Washington and Beijing.

China, which claims self-governing Taiwan as its own territory, has increased military activity near the island in the past two years, responding to what it calls “collusion” between Taipei and Washington.

In a speech on Sunday, Wei said it was up to the United States to improve bilateral relations with its country.

(Additional reporting by Martin Petty)


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