China rejects US request for meeting of defense chiefs
China rejected a request by the US for a meeting of the defense chiefs of the two countries on the sidelines of an annual security forum in Singapore, News.Az reports citing Anadolu Agency.
“Overnight, the PRC informed the US that they have declined our invitation for Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin to meet with Minister of National Defense Li Shangfu in Singapore this week,” Pentagon Spokesman Patrick Ryder told Anadolu, referring to the People’s Republic of China, China’s official name.
Ryder emphasized the importance of maintaining open channels of communication between the militaries of the two countries to ensure that competition does not turn into conflict.
"The PRC’s concerning unwillingness to engage in meaningful military-to-military discussions will not diminish DoD’s (the Department of Defense’s) commitment to seeking open lines of communication with the People’s Liberation Army at multiple levels as part of responsibly managing the relationship."
Li’s sanctions designation under the Countering America's Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA) does not prevent Secretary Austin from meeting with him in the process of conducting official United States government business, noted Ryder.
Meanwhile, a senior defense official told Anadolu that this is not the first time that China has rejected invitations from the defense secretary, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff or other department officials to communicate.
"Frankly, it’s just the latest in a litany of excuses. Since 2021, the PRC has declined or failed to respond to over a dozen requests from the Department of Defense for key leader engagements, multiple requests for standing dialogues, and nearly 10 working-level engagements," he said.