US And China Defense Ministers Discuss Taiwan, Ukraine-Russia In First In-Person Talks Since 2022: 'Positive, Practical And Constructive'

In a move that could signal easing tensions, the defense chiefs of the U.S. and China have met for the first time in person since last year. The meeting took place against a backdrop of strained relations over Taiwan and the South China Sea.

What Happened: In a significant diplomatic engagement, the defense ministers of the United States and China convened for an in-person meeting on the sidelines of the Shangri-La Dialogue in Singapore, South China Morning Post reported on Friday. This marked the first face-to-face discussion between the ministers since 2022, signaling a thaw in military communications.

Senior Col. Wu Qian described the talks between Chinese Defense Minister Dong Jun and his U.S. counterpart, Lloyd Austin, as “positive, practical, and constructive.”

The dialogue, which extended to 75 minutes, surpassed the anticipated duration and covered topics including military relations, Taiwan, the South China Sea, and the Ukraine-Russia crisis.

The meeting also broached the creation of a crisis communications working group, a step towards enhancing policy communication between the two nations. Dong Jun urged the U.S. to cease sending “wrong signals” to Taiwanese independence forces, while Austin stressed the importance of open military communication lines and expressed concern over China’s actions near Taiwan.

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Chinese Lt. Gen. He Lei noted the resumption of high-level military exchanges as beneficial for stabilizing ties. Both parties brought 10 officials each to the discussions, which followed attempts to restore military communication channels after a hiatus since Nancy Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan in August 2022.

Why It Matters: The engagement comes amid heightened military activities in the Taiwan Strait, including recent People’s Liberation Army drills. The US and China continue to navigate their complex relationship, with the U.S. opposing any forceful reunification of Taiwan with China, despite not recognizing Taiwan as an independent state.

The high-stakes meeting between U.S. and Chinese defense ministers is a critical step in mitigating tensions that have escalated in recent months. In April, the U.S. considered imposing sanctions on Beijing banks over their alleged involvement in Russia’s war in Ukraine, with U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken warning that China “can't have it both ways.” This move underscored the growing rift between the two nations and the serious implications of their geopolitical maneuvers.

Chinese envoy for European affairs recently responded that it is “unfair” to put the burden of the Ukraine-Russia war on China.

Additionally, in May, Beijing urged the U.S. to refrain from “dangerous and destabilizing actions” amid a dispute in the South China Sea, highlighting the precarious nature of their military interactions in the region.

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Photo via Shutterstock

This story was generated using Benzinga Neuro and edited by Pooja Rajkumari

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Posted In: NewsPoliticsGlobalGeneralDong JunLloyd AustinPooja RajkumariSouth China SeataiwanUkraine-RussiaUS-ChinaWu Qian
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