Support our mission
Lloyd Austin, U.S. secretary of defense, during a House Armed Services Committee hearing in Washington, D.C., on April 5, 2022.

Lloyd Austin, U.S. secretary of defense, during a House Armed Services Committee hearing in Washington, D.C., on April 5, 2022. (Eric Lee/Bloomberg)

U.S. and Chinese defense officials said they planned further talks after Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and his counterpart sparred over Taiwan and other regional security issues for almost an hour.

Both sides emerged from the first in-person encounter between Austin and Chinese Defense Minister Wei Fenghe on Friday in Singapore citing plans for additional discussions. A Chinese military spokesman described the meeting as a start toward resuming a normal dialogue, although a senior U.S. defense official said no date for follow-up meetings had been set.

The two defense chiefs tussled over Taiwan, which the U.S. official said consumed a bulk of the meeting on the sidelines of Asia’s biggest security conference, the IISS Shangri-La Dialogue. Wei condemned the latest American move to sell arms to the democratically run island, Wu Qian, the Chinese defense spokesman, told reporters.

“General Wei emphasized that, should someone split Taiwan from China, then the PLA will have no choice but to fight at any cost and crush any attempt at Taiwan independence,” Wu said.

The world’s two largest economies have clashed over a range of strategic flash points from Taiwan’s status to what Washington says is Beijing’s tacit support for Russia’s war in Ukraine. Biden officials have repeatedly stressed the need for “guardrails” to prevent these tensions from getting out of hand.

Austin reiterated U.S. opposition to any decision by China to provide support for Russia in the conflict, something China denies doing. Nonetheless, Wu described the discussions as “a strategic conversation conducted in a candid, positive and constructive manner.”

Austin used the meeting with his China counterpart to renew calls for more measures to keep future crises from escalating into conflict. China has so far resisted calls by the Biden administration for more robust communication between military commanders to minimize the risk of miscalculation.

“Secretary Austin discussed the need to responsibly manage competition and maintain open lines of communication,” the U.S. side said in a statement. “The secretary underscored the importance of the People’s Liberation Army engaging in substantive dialogue on improving communications during crises and reducing strategic risk.”

Austin reaffirmed the U.S.’s commitment to its “one China policy” and “called on the PRC to refrain from further destabilizing actions toward Taiwan,” according to the readout.

The senior U.S. defense official said before the meeting that China’s behavior at home and abroad has left it more isolated in the region. The official said that the example of Ukraine looms large in Asia, demonstrating the risks of disorder and disputes over spheres of influence.


Stripes in 7



around the web


Sign Up for Daily Headlines

Sign-up to receive a daily email of today’s top military news stories from Stars and Stripes and top news outlets from around the world.

Sign up