US and Chinese Defense Ministers Meet in Singapore for the First Time

US and Chinese Defense Ministers Meet in Singapore for the First Time
Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III greets Chinese Defense Minister Wei Fenghe at the Shangri-La Dialogue in Singapore

International Military - United States Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin and Chinese Minister of Defense General Wei Fenghe held their first face-to-face meeting on Friday (10/6/2022). Austin and Wei Fenghe met at the main defense summit held in Singapore .

The meeting at the Shangri-la Dialogue took place during Austin's fourth trip to the Indo-Pacific region following a formal request from China's military leadership. The meeting lasted almost an hour. Prior to that meeting, the two spoke only once on the phone at the end of last April in a call that lasted about 45 minutes.

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According to the Pentagon, during the meeting, Austin reiterated that the US remains committed to its old policy of "one China." "Secretary Austin discussed global and regional security issues, and reiterated to General Wei that the United States remains committed to our longstanding one China policy, which is guided by the Taiwan Relations Act, the Three US-China Joint Communiqu├ęs, and the Six Guarantees," it said. The Pentagon in a statement.

"The minister reiterated the importance of peace and stability in the Straits, opposed to unilateral changes to the status quo, and called on the PRC to refrain from further destabilizing actions against Taiwan," the statement continued, using the acronym for China's official name, the People's Republic of China. CNN.

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According to the statement, the two also discussed the need to maintain open lines of communication. "Minister Austin discussed the need to manage competition responsibly and keep lines of communication open. The minister underlined the importance of the People's Liberation Army engaging in substantive dialogue to improve communication during crises and reduce strategic risks," he said.

Prior to the meeting, a US defense official said Washington would try to establish lines of communication at the highest military levels as a mechanism to avoid a situation that would lead to conflict between the two Pacific powers.

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"The US would also like to see a communication mechanism between commanders at the theater level," the officials said. "This has been a priority for us in defense relations," the official said. The US has frequently cited what it sees as growing Chinese aggression in the region, accusing the People's Liberation Army of carrying out unsafe and dangerous activities, particularly around the South China Sea and Taiwan.

At the same time, China has been vocal in condemning relations between the US and Taiwan. After a congressional delegation visited Taiwan late last month, the Chinese Embassy in Washington urged the US to avoid sending the wrong signal to "Taiwan independence" separatist forces, according to a statement from the embassy.

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That same week, China sent 30 warplanes to Taiwan's air defense identification zone, the highest daily figure in four months. "The Taiwan issue will be prominent in all secretarial conversations," the senior defense official said. Austin is scheduled to address the conference in one of the keynote addresses at the Shangri-La Dialogue on Saturday morning, followed by a speech by Wei on Sunday morning.

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