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The Pentagon said that Beijing refused to meet with the US Secretary of Defense

The Pentagon said that Beijing refused to meet with the US Secretary of Defense

The Pentagon said on Monday that Beijing had rejected an invitation from the United States for a meeting this week in Singapore between Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and his Chinese counterpart Li Shangfu, regretting the “disturbing” situation.

“China has notified the United States that it has declined our invitation in early May for Secretary Austin to meet with Minister of National Defense Li Changfu this week in Singapore,” Pentagon spokesman Pat Ryder said in a statement.

“The worrying unwillingness of the People’s Republic of China to engage in meaningful discussions between the two militaries will not diminish our commitment to seeking to open lines of communication with the Chinese military,” the spokesperson added.

In response to a question about this invitation, the Chinese Foreign Ministry did not confirm its refusal.

“The United States clearly knows why there are difficulties in military communication between China and the United States,” spokeswoman Mao Ning said at a regular press conference on Tuesday.

“The United States should sincerely respect China’s sovereignty, security and interests, promptly correct its incorrect actions, show sincerity, and create a favorable atmosphere and conditions for military dialogue between China and China and the United States,” she added.

Lloyd Austin is due to travel to Singapore this week to attend the Shangri-La Dialogue on Defense and Security in the Asia-Pacific Region. During the previous edition, in June 2022, he met Li Changfu’s predecessor, Wei Fenghe.

The US administration imposed sanctions on the current Chinese defense minister in 2018 for his purchase of Russian weapons, but the Pentagon asserts that this does not prevent the US defense minister from conducting official exchanges with him.

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By the end of 2022, tensions between Beijing and Washington escalate over Taiwan and a Chinese spy balloon is supposedly shot down by an American plane while it was flying over the United States.

The US administration has since tried to strengthen alliances and partnerships in Asia in order to counter Beijing’s increasingly assertive actions in the region, even if the two camps have also sometimes played appeasement.

White House National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan met with Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi in Vienna in May. US President Joe Biden recently indicated that relations between Washington and Beijing should relax “very soon”.