Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin has asked three times to speak with his Chinese counterpart, but the Chinese Communist Party has refused each time, according to the Financial Times.
Lloyd asked specifically to meet with General Xu Qiliang, vice-chair of the Central Military Commission, in what would be the first public meeting between U.S. and Chinese officials since a thorny meeting between Secretary of State Tony Blinken and his Chinese counterpart in March. Austin seeks to discuss the rising tensions between China, the U.S. and other nations in the Indo-Pacific and South China Sea. (RELATED: UK Navy To Deploy Largest Fleet In Decades To South China Sea)
“The Chinese military has not been responsive,” a US defense official reportedly told the Financial Times about the requests for a call.
Chairman of the Join Chiefs Gen. Mark Milley also has not spoken to his Chinese counterpart since January, according to FT. (RELATED: Navy Claims China’s ‘Aggressive Actions’ Are Compromising American Power At An ‘Alarming Rate’)
China has been escalating tensions with its neighbors and the U.S. for years, making claims of sovereignty in the South China Sea that infringe on international law. It has also long maintained that Taiwan is its sovereign territory, a claim the U.S. has gone to great lengths to contest.
China routinely runs aggressive naval maneuvers and, more recently, faux bombing runs on Taiwan and even U.S. targets. The Chinese military conducted a simulated missile attack on the USS Theodore Roosevelt, one of America’s 11 aircraft carriers.
The U.S. has made a habit of sending fleets into the areas of the South China Sea that China claims to own.
President Joe Biden and Austin ordered a new task force to conduct a review of U.S. force posture as it relates to China in early February.
Biden has identified the communist nation as America’s chief threat, framing the conflict as one that will decide whether democracy or autocracy will lead the world into the future.