Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin meets for the first time face-to-face with his Chinese counterpart

Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin met his Chinese counterpart for the first time on Friday after their delegations arrived in Singapore for an Asia defense summit.

The face-to-face meeting between Mr. Austin and General Wei Fenghe, Minister of National Defense of the People’s Republic of China, lasted about 30 minutes on the sidelines of the three-day Shangri-La Dialogue. Pentagon officials said the two men discussed US-China defense relations and regional security issues.

“Secretary Austin discussed the need to responsibly manage competition and maintain open lines of communication,” the Pentagon said in a statement. “The Secretary stressed the importance for the People’s Liberation Army to engage in substantive dialogue on improving crisis communications and reducing strategic risks.”

Mr Austin regularly refers to the People’s Republic of China as the main “pace challenge” for the United States, and the two nations are at odds on a range of issues. He has only spoken to China’s defense minister once before, in a phone call on April 20, according to CNN.

The United States wants to use the summit to push back against China’s growing influence in the region while strengthening ties with other Asian countries as part of its strategy to focus on the Indo-Pacific region.

During their brief meeting on Friday, the two men discussed several topics, including the Korean Peninsula and Russia’s unprovoked invasion of Ukraine, the Defense Ministry said.

Mr Austin told General Wei that the United States remains committed to the long-standing “one China policy”, while calling on Beijing to refrain from further “destabilizing” actions towards Taiwan, which is a province. separatist. China has stepped up political and military pressure on Taipei as Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen has regularly chastised their efforts to undermine democracy on the island.

“The Secretary reaffirmed the importance of peace and stability across the strait (and) opposition to unilateral changes to the status quo,” the Pentagon said.

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Post expires at 12:30am on Wednesday June 22nd, 2022