WASHINGTON– Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin on Wednesday spoke with his Chinese counterpart for the very first time given that becoming Pentagon chief more than a year earlier, breaking a communications impasse that American officials saw as increasingly hazardous in the middle of issue that Beijing may supply military support for Russias war in Ukraine.Austin, who calls China the U.S. militarys leading long-lasting challenge but has actually been required to focus greatly on Russia this year, requested the telephone discussion with Gen. Wei Fenge after months of failed effort to speak with Gen. Xu Qiliang, the greatest ranking uniformed officer in the Communist Party military structure.Austin wanted to talk to Xu due to the fact that, as deputy chairman of the partys Central Military Commission, which controls the Peoples Liberation Army, Xu is more prominent than Wei. In Wednesdays phone call, Austin echoed Bidens messages on the significance of handling U.S.-Chinese tactical competition, including in the nuclear, space and cyber arenas, and enhancing crisis interactions between the global powers, the senior defense authorities said.Austin also raised U.S. issues about what Washington views as Chinese military justifications versus Taiwan, the island democracy that Beijing has firmly insisted must ultimately be united with the Chinese mainland, the authorities stated. In February, Xi and Russian President Vladimir Putin declared that the friendship between their counties “has no limitations,” although it stays to be seen whether the subsequent Russian intrusion of Ukraine has cooled Xis interest in closer ties.The Biden administrations very first high-level meeting with Chinese authorities came in March 2021 when Secretary of State Anton Blinken and Bidens nationwide security advisor, Jake Sullivan, met in Anchorage, Alaska, with their Chinese counterparts, who shocked their American hosts by complaining about a list of issues.Since then, there has actually been a succession of phone and video calls between Blinken and Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi but fairly few in-person conferences.
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