China Opposes United States-Led Meeting Between Defense Chiefs

China rejected a request by United States government officials for a meeting between the two countries’ defense leaders, as tensions between the two nuclear powers mount.

Per a report by The Wall Street Journal, China made this decision on May 29 and was due to China’s annoyance with the US over the sanctions it imposed on the Chinese defense minister.

The Pentagon called for the meeting to be held on the sidelines of a yearly security forum in Singapore.

“Overnight, the PRC (the People’s Republic of China) informed the US that they have declined our early May invitation for [Defense] Secretary [Lloyd] Austin to meet with PRC Minister of National Defense Li Shangfu in Singapore this week,” the Pentagon stated in a statement to the Journal.

The US military has recently manifested its frustration for being blown off by Chinese officials on multiple occasions in an attempt to make this meeting possible.

US Assistant Secretary of Defense for Indo-Pacific Security Affairs Ely Ratner complained that the Pentagon’s attempts to contact China’s military in recent months have been either rejected or brushed off, following China’s vow to stop dialogue with the US over the sanctions it recently imposed on China’s leading defense official.

Earlier in May, Chinese authorities notified American authorities that “there is little chance” of Li’s meeting with his American counterpart in Singapore owing to sanctions slapped on him over his alleged involvement in the purchase of Russian weapons systems.

Chinese authorities further stressed that it saw no reason to maintain dialogue with the US as long as it pursued a misleading foreign policy.

“Where is the sincerity and sense of dialogue, when the US side talks about the need to maintain contacts only to use them as a means to put pressure on China and hamstring our country,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson, Mao Ning, declared at a press briefing on May 22.

She also urged American authorities “immediately lift sanctions” against China, continuing, “It is necessary to create a favorable atmosphere and favorable conditions for dialogue and contact.”

Tensions between China and the US have been on the rise as the US continues its “pivot to Asia” in an effort to contain China. Such security competition will inevitably lead to a clash between the two nuclear powers — a frightening prospect. 

Cooler heads must prevail here so that diplomacy and nationalist policies can rectify whatever disputes the two countries have. 

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