US and Chinese defense chiefs hold first in-person talks since 2022-VIDEO

China’s Minister of National Defense Adm. Dong Jun and US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin

© APA | China’s Minister of National Defense Adm. Dong Jun and US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin

# 31 May 2024 09:41 (UTC +04:00)

The US and Chinese defense chiefs are holding a rare in-person meeting Friday as the two powers navigate a contentious security landscape across the Asia-Pacific and a range of frictions between them from China’s intimidation of Taiwan to American’s strengthening alliances in the region, APA reports citing CNN.

The meeting, between US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and China’s Minister of National Defense Adm. Dong Jun, is the first face-to-face talks between the two defense chiefs and Austin’s first such discussions with a Chinese counterpart since late 2022.

The meeting, on the sidelines of an annual defense conference in Singapore, takes place against a fraught regional backdrop. Beijing – which wields the world’s largest navy – continues to aggressively assert disputed territorial claims in the East and South China Seas, while decrying Washington’s efforts to strengthen security ties with key allies like Japan, South Korea and the Philippines.

China earlier this month staged major war games around Taiwan following the inauguration of the island’s new democratically elected president. China’s ruling Communist Party claims the self-governing democracy as its own, despite never having controlled it.

Its Coast Guard in recent weeks has also fired water cannons and sought to counter Philippine vessels operating in disputed areas of the South China Sea, stoking already heightened tensions with a US treaty ally in the region.

Beijing has also lashed out at what it sees as provocative moves between the US and its allies, with its Defense Ministry spokesperson on Thursday condemning the deployment of an American missile system during military drills in the Philippines last month.

Austin is expected to raise concerns with Dong about China’s support for Russia, US officials said ahead of the meeting. Washington in recent weeks has said dual-use exports from China are bolstering Russia’s defense industrial base as it wages war in Ukraine, with US officials warning Beijing against providing Russia with any lethal equipment.

Talks between Austin and Dong are not expected to see substantive progress towards resolving many entrenched issues between them.

At the core of those contentions is that China does not want to see America exercise its military power in Asia – a region where the US it has deep, historic security ties and seeks to maintain open waterways and deter North Korean aggression, but where China is widely viewed as wanting to establish its dominance.

But their meeting is seen by international observers as a positive step toward enhancing dialogue that could help to avoid miscommunication or military mishap veering toward conflict.

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