DHARAMSALA, 22 Nov: Reaffirming the importance of peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait, the US Secretary of Defence Lloyd Austin has urged China to refrain from further destabilising actions toward Taiwan.
The Pentagon chief “underscored his opposition to unilateral changes to the status quo and called on the People’s Republic of China (PRC) to refrain from further destabilising actions toward Taiwan” during his meeting with Minister of National Defence of the PRC Wei Fenghe on the margins of the Association of Southeast Asia Nations Defence Ministers Meeting-Plus in Siem Reap, Cambodia on Tuesday.
“Secretary Austin and General Wei discussed U.S.-PRC defence relations and regional and global security issues. Secretary Austin emphasised the need to responsibly manage competition and maintain open lines of communication,” the Pentagon said in a press release.
According to Pentagon, the Secretary “also discussed the importance of substantive dialogue on reducing strategic risk, improving crisis communications, and enhancing operational safety during his first face-to-face meeting with his Chinese counterpart since House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s visit to Taipei in August.
Secretary Austin has also “raised concerns about the increasingly dangerous behaviour demonstrated by PLA aircraft in the Indo-Pacific region that increases the risk of an accident” and also “affirmed that the United States will continue to fly, sail, and operate wherever international law allows.”
According to a report on Bloomberg, while the Chinese officials have agreed on the need to strengthen crisis management and called the meeting positive, it held the US solely responsible for deteriorating ties between the world’s two biggest economies.
“The responsibility of the current state of affairs of China-US relations does not lie with China — the main reason is that the US has made the wrong strategic judgment,” Chinese Defence Ministry Spokesman Tan Kefei was quoted as saying in the report.
He has further declared that the US should “adopt a rational and practical China policy to really remove the root causes of the crisis.”
The report further described the meeting as “the latest effort to put the US-China relationship on a more stable footing following the first in-person talks between Chinese President Xi Jinping and US President Joe Biden last week in Indonesia.”
Wei and Austin, the Defence Chiefs of China and the US last met in June in Singapore, with Taiwan as the focal point of their meeting.