Alwaght- The United States has expressed frustration after Chinese officials repeatedly ignored or rebuffed Pentagon’s purported efforts to make overtures.
US Assistant Secretary of Defense for Indo-Pacific Security Affairs Ely Ratner said on Thursday the Pentagon’s attempts to reach out to China’s military in recent months have been either rejected or ignored.
The US Department of Defense (DOD) is keen to maintain open lines of communication with China in the military domain “to prevent misperception and miscalculation and to prevent crises from spinning out of control,” Ratner said during an event hosted by the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington.
However, Beijing is not responding to America’s requests for contact between the countries’ military officials, he complained.
Ratner pointed out that the US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin “believes in the importance of open lines of communication with the PRC [People’s Republic of China] and we have sought to build out those open lines of communication. Unfortunately... we’ve had a lot of difficulty when we have proposed phone calls, meetings, dialogues.”
He said the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Mark Milley, along with the head of US Indo-Pacific Command Admiral, John Aquilino – and other uniformed and civilian officials – have asked Beijing for dialogue, but “those requests [were] rejected or not answered.”
Meanwhile, the Financial Times reported Beijing told Washington earlier this month that “there is little chance” of Defense Minister Li Shangfu meeting with the Americans due to the sanctions slapped by Washington on the Chinese defense chief.
Beijing and Washington’s relations have been severely strained since last August, when then-US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi visited Chinese Taipei, which China sees as a provocative move, breaching the internationally accepted “One China” principle and inciting the secessionists on an inseparable part of its territory.
In the meantime, Li met with Russian President Vladimir Putin at the Kremlin last month.
Both of the leaders approved and praised the “strategic” nature of relations between the two countries and their growing military cooperation.
“We are working actively through our military departments, regularly exchange useful information, work together in the field of military-technical cooperation, and hold joint exercises,” Putin told Li, as quoted by Russian media. “This is, undoubtedly, another important area that strengthens the exclusively trusting, strategic nature of our relations.”
“We have very strong ties. They surpass the military-political alliances of the Cold War era... They are very stable,” said Li, who was appointed to his post in March replacing Wei Fenghe as China’s defense minister.
“This is my first overseas visit since taking over as China’s defense minister...I specifically chose Russia for this in order to emphasize the special nature and strategic importance of our bilateral ties,” Li said.
Russia and China have expanded cooperation in the past two years, driven by the mutual desire to counterbalance American global dominance.
Moscow and Beijing plan to regularly organize joint maritime and air patrols in efforts to “deepen military mutual trust” with Russia to help ensure international justice and make new contributions to international and regional security, Chinese Defense Ministry spokesman Tan Kefei said during a press briefing on April 30, 2023.