US-China conclude two days of military talks in Washington

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The United States and China concluded two days of military talks in Washington on Tuesday, the Pentagon said, the latest engagement between the two countries since they agreed to resume military-to-military ties.

U.S. President Joe Biden and Chinese President Xi Jinping agreed Late last year to restart the engagement that had been severed by Beijing after then-House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi visited self-ruled Taiwan in August 2022.

Michael Chase, the deputy assistant secretary of defense for China, Taiwan, and Mongolia, met with China’s Major General Song Yanchao, deputy director of the central military commission office for international military cooperation, the Pentagon said. These were the 17th U.S.-China defense policy coordination talks.

“The two sides discussed U.S.-PRC defense relations, and Dr. Chase highlighted the importance of maintaining open lines of military-to-military communication in order to prevent competition from veering into conflict,” the statement added, using an acronym for the People’s Republic of China.

The top U.S. military officer, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Charles Q. Brown, held a virtual meeting with his Chinese counterpart, General Liu Zhenli, last month.

Pentagon officials say communication between the two militaries is crucial to preventing a miscalculation from spiraling into conflict.

U.S. officials have cautioned that even with some restoration of military communications, forging truly functional dialogue between the two sides could take time.

Washington and Beijing are at loggerheads over everything from the future of democratically ruled Taiwan to territorial claims in the South China Sea. Diplomatic relations are still recovering after the U.S. downed an alleged Chinese spy balloon in February.

Taiwan is holding presidential and parliamentary polls this weekend, which are taking place against a backdrop of a ramped-up war of words between Taiwan and China, which views the island as its own territory despite the strong objections of the Taiwanese government.

(Reporting by Idrees Ali and Phil Stewart; Editing by Sandra Maler)