Senior U.S. and Chinese defense officials met at the Pentagon on Monday and Tuesday for the first time since January 2020, a major diplomatic step.
Resumption of U.S.-China Military Talks
Washington and Beijing have resumed military-to-military discussions after poor ties marked by a paucity of conversations between military and political officials. Michael Chase, the Pentagon’s Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for China, and Maj. Gen. Song Yanchao, China’s Central Military Commission’s deputy director for international military cooperation, led the talks.
The two-day talks focused on defense cooperation, with the U.S. emphasizing ongoing military contact. The U.S. pledged to operate securely and responsibly under international law. Repeated harassment of legitimately operating Philippine vessels in the South China Sea and the U.S.’s Taiwan policy were cited. The Chinese delegation’s visit followed November’s high-level meeting between President Joe Biden and Xi Jinping.
The once-yearly U.S.-PRC Defense Policy Coordination Talks, held virtually in 2021, were canceled in 2023 by China in protest over Nancy Pelosi’s Taiwan tour.
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Diplomatic Aims of U.S.-China Military Talks in the Indo-Pacific
Lack of communication increased fears of military miscalculation in the Indo-Pacific, where China has asserted itself in the South China Sea. The talks aim to resolve issues and avert confrontation in the U.S.-PRC defense cooperation via open and honest conversations.
The Pentagon stresses the significance of reestablishing communication links to avoid unexpected wars. The senior defense source, speaking anonymously, said that both sides could freely express their concerns, signifying a diplomatic attempt to reduce tensions and foster understanding between the two military and economic powerhouses.