US side reiterates one-China policy, calls for ‘managing competition, maintaining communication’
The defense chiefs of China and the US met in Cambodia on Tuesday to discuss bilateral defense relations and regional and global security issues with Washington emphasizing the “need to responsibly manage competition and maintain open lines of communication.”
It is the first time high-level military dialogue took place between the world’s top economies after Beijing had decided to snap communication at the level of defense chiefs after US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi paid an unannounced trip in August to Taiwan, which China claims as its “breakaway province.”
The meeting, second between US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin and China’s Minister of National Defense General Wei Fenghe since the Joe Biden administration assumed office in Washington, took place on the margins of the Association of Southeast Asia Nations (ASEAN) Defense Ministers Meeting-Plus in Siem Reap, Cambodia.
A readout from the US Department of Defense said Austin discussed the importance “of substantive dialogue on reducing strategic risk, improving crisis communications, and enhancing operational safety.”
The US side, said the readout, “raised concerns about the increasingly dangerous behavior demonstrated by PLA (People’s Liberation Army) aircraft in the Indo-Pacific region that increases the risk of an accident.”
Beijing was yet to release its statement on the meeting between Wei and Austin.
Austin said the US “will continue to fly, sail, and operate wherever international law allows.”
Early this year in June, Wei and Austin met in Singapore.
Today’s meeting also comes after the Chinese and US presidents met in Indonesia last week – their first since the Biden administration took charge in Washington. The duo had agreed to maintain communication while US top diplomat Anthony Blinken is expected to travel to Beijing early next year.
Pointing to Russia’s war on Ukraine, Austin underscored how “both” the US and China “oppose the use of nuclear weapons or threats to use them.”
On North Korea, Austin urged Beijing to “fully enforce existing UN Security Council resolutions regarding” Pyongyang’s “unlawful weapons programs.”
Korean Peninsula has seen escalating tensions between Pyongyang and Seoul along with South Korea’s allies, including the US and Japan.
As South launched military exercises with Washington and others, Pyongyang fired dozens of missiles and projectiles in the past few weeks.
Reaffirming the importance of peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait, Austin reiterated that Washington “remains committed to our longstanding one-China policy” which is guided by the Taiwan Relations Act, the Three US-China Joint Communiques, and the Six Assurances.
However, the US defense chief expressed his “opposition to unilateral changes to the status quo” and called on Beijing to “refrain from further destabilizing actions toward Taiwan.”