US, Chinese defense chiefs hold ‘straightforward’ talks amid tensions

Cheryl Sanders
October 21, 2018

Schriver said he believed that sentiment was shared by China's military, noting that it recently requested Thursday's talks in Singapore after Beijing decided against a planned Mattis-Wei meeting in China.

The much-anticipated meeting between the Pentagon chief and General Wei Fenghe saw the men address long-standing frictions - including Beijing's actions in the South China Sea - but also centred on strengthening ties to withstand political crises like the one now engulfing the two nuclear powers.

A meeting between the two men had initially been scheduled to take place in Beijing last weekend, but it fell through after China declined to make Wei available.

"I don't think Asian leaders see lasting commitment from the United States on things other than North Korea and trade deficits".

Sen. Jack Reed, the ranking Democrat on the Senate Armed Services Committee, praised Mattis' experience in light of President Donald Trump's comments that the defense secretary was a "sort of a Democrat" and could leave his post.

Military-to-military ties have always been one of the more fragile parts of the overall U.S.

The pair had been due to meet earlier the month but Beijing cancelled the meeting, apparently in retaliation for Washington sanctioning a unit of China's military for buying Russian fighter jets and missiles in September.

The U.S. side is devoted to promoting the relations between the U.S. and Chinese militaries, and hopes to further enhance exchanges between the two militaries at all levels, and take good advantage of the mutual trust and cooperation mechanism, so as to push the relations between the two militaries ahead on a right track.

The United States and China are engaging in a diplomatic tug-of-war over support from the 10 members of the ASEAN on the South China Sea issues.

Southeast Asian navies are heading to their first joint exercises with China in its southern waters next week, and defense officials agreed Friday to conduct a similar drill with the USA next year.

The ASEAN ministers applauded the participation of the US and China as their partners at the ADMM, saying that the US-China relationship plays an important role in regional peace and stability.

"Our message will be no single country can change worldwide law, global norms", he said.

"They do face potential risk angering China", Schriver said.

Four Asean members - Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines and Vietnam - have conflicting claims in the South China Sea with Beijing.

The new air guidelines - a set of communication protocols called Game (Guidelines for Air Military Encounters) - are meant to reduce the likelihood of accidents that could escalate into a conflict, especially with increased air traffic in the region. US Navy ships conduct "freedom of navigation" operations in these areas, though, and US Air Force bombers sometimes conduct "flyovers" over the South China Sea.

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