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U.S.-China Relations Strained Further as Meeting Request Between Defense Chiefs Denied


In what is being seen as a fresh indication of escalating tensions between the U.S. and China, Beijing reportedly turned down an invitation for a discussion between the defense leaders of both nations at an upcoming security summit in Singapore.

Earlier this week, reports revealed that the People’s Republic of China (PRC) declined an invitation, extended in early May, for U.S. Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin to meet with China's Minister of National Defense Li Shangfu at the summit in Singapore, according to a Pentagon announcement shared with the Wall Street Journal.

Despite this setback, the Pentagon reasserted its commitment to transparent dialogue, emphasizing its crucial role in preventing competitive dynamics from escalating into open hostilities.

White House spokesperson John Kirby confirmed last week that efforts were underway by the Defense Department to initiate discussions between Austin and his newly-appointed Chinese counterpart.

The possibility of this high-level interaction had attracted significant attention, given the backdrop of regional security concerns and ongoing trade disputes that have hindered efforts at reestablishing a productive dialogue between the two economic superpowers.

In response to the declined invitation, China's foreign ministry held the U.S. accountable, asserting that the American side was fully conscious of the reasons contributing to the stagnant military communication. Foreign ministry spokesperson Mao Ning called on the U.S. to rectify its detrimental practices, demonstrate sincerity, and set up an environment conducive to productive dialogue between the two militaries.

This diplomatic friction follows a contentious exchange between U.S. Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo and Chinese Commerce Minister Wang Wentao on trade, investment, and export policies during a recent cabinet-level meeting in Washington.

The refusal of the Chinese defense chief to engage with his U.S. counterpart is not a good omen, opined Singapore-based security analyst Ian Storey. "In the context of increasing U.S.-China friction, General Li's decision not to meet his American counterpart could increase regional anxiety," he added.

Austin and Li are both scheduled to be in Singapore for the Shangri-la Dialogue commencing this Friday, a gathering of defense officials and analysts renowned for facilitating numerous side meetings. The two are anticipated to have separate discussions with other regional counterparts.

Li, a key figure in the modernisation of the People’s Liberation Army, has been subject to U.S. sanctions since 2018 due to procurement of combat aircraft and equipment from Rosoboronexport, Russia’s principal arms dealer. He also serves on China’s Central Military Commission, the country’s highest defense body under the command of President Xi Jinping.

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Unknown member
Jun 01, 2023

I would assume that this a fixable issue?

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Unknown member
May 31, 2023

Eff the Chinese, they're evil bastards. They've got nothing coming from us but a hard time.

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