The Chinese military has started ignoring the Biden Pentagon requests for its top leaders to speak in what seems to be a diplomatic stalemate.
A new report in Financial Times has revealed that China has “refused” three requests from the Biden Administration for discussions with China’s top military leader, General Xu Qiliang, and Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin.
Chinese state-run outlet Global Times reported that this report was “not true” and said Austin was being “unfriendly and unprofessional.” The report said that China had “wrote a congratulatory letter through diplomatic channels” to Austin after becoming defense secretary and requested that the two defense chiefs should “have talks at the right time,” and that the U.S. did not respond to the letter.
The report says that the Pentagon requested discussions with another military leader, which it said was “unfriendly and unprofessional” and “irresponsible.”
The Pentagon responded by avoiding returning name-calling.
“I won’t do the public tit-for-tat here,” Pentagon Press Secretary John Kirby said to reporters.
“We want to have a discussion with Beijing, and we are still working on what that will look like and how that will transpire. And I believe I will just leave it at that,” he said.
A defense official also revealed that there were discussions for Austin to meet the Chinese defense minister, Wei Fenghe, in Singapore in June, but that Austin decided against the meeting in favor of speaking with the higher-ranked Xu.
Casting a shadow over the dispute is the issue of the two nation’s top diplomats meeting in Anchorage, Alaska.
What was expected to be a scripted statement before the closed-door meeting turned into an unusually tense moment in front of stunned reporters.
U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken and national security adviser Jake Sullivan opened their meeting with China’s top diplomat Yang Jiechi and State Councilor Wang Yi in Anchorage, Alaska, sparring in a highly unusual back-and-forth in front of cameras https://t.co/cl3SoVXQmE pic.twitter.com/pLcC69Omf6
— Reuters (@Reuters) March 19, 2021
👀 Xi delegation tells Biden delegation that they don’t have the qualification to say they speak to China “from a position of strength.”
This squabble played out at publicly in Alaska, in front of press, at 1st meeting between Biden admin and China.
— Jennifer Jacobs (@JenniferJJacobs) March 18, 2021
n light of this, Biden officials have reported that they do not wish to have high-level meetings with China “just for the sake of doing so.”
Making things weirder is that Xu did agree to meet with former President Trump’s Defense Secretary, Jim Mattis.
This breakdown in relations is happening as tensions rise over China’s aggressiveness over Taiwan and the South China Sea, both of which China says is its territory.
In light of the dispute that surfaced yesterday between China’s Southern Theater Command and US Navy on USS Curtis Wilbur’s Freedom of Navigation Operation around the Paracelsus Islands (as 1 example), this lack of communication is a serious issue.
— James Schoff (@SchoffJ) May 21, 2021
US-China relations at worst level since Tiananmen Square protests/massacre in ‘89.
But especially given absence of trust on both sides, we need to be talking. China’s refusal to meet US Defense Secretary is irresponsible. https://t.co/Sy6TiQJcFC
— ian bremmer (@ianbremmer) May 22, 2021
A former Trump official and now aide to Republican Kevin McCarthy (R-CA), Chad Gilmartin, said that it was “dangerous” for the Defense Secretary not to speak to his Chinese counterpart after taking office.
Dangerous: Biden’s Defense secretary has been unable to speak to his Chinese counterpart since he took office.
This follows China’s foreign affairs chief lecturing Secretary of State Blinken in Anchorage saying the U.S. it cannot “speak to China from a position of strength.”
— Chad Gilmartin (@ChadGilmartinCA) May 24, 2021
Author: Blake Ambrose