The US commander called, China did not pick up the phone

Chinese military officials have not responded to many calls from the US amid rising tensions in the Taiwan Strait.

Three well-informed sources revealed to Politico that many calls this week from senior U.S. defense officials, including Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Mark Milley, to their counterparts in China failed to is responded to.

Milley last called his Chinese counterpart, People’s Liberation Army (PLA) General Staff Chief Li Zuocheng, on July 7, according to the Pentagon. The two men met online via secure transmission, discussing the importance of maintaining communication channels and reducing risks between the militaries of the two countries.

Minister Austin last met his Chinese counterpart Wei Fenghe in June, on the sidelines of the Shangri-La Security Dialogue conference in Singapore.

“The Minister has repeatedly stressed the importance of comprehensively maintaining communication channels with China’s defense leadership, ensuring that the two countries avoid miscalculation. This position has not changed,” said Todd Breasseale, acting director. Pentagon press secretary, said.

General Mark Milley holds a press conference at the Pentagon on January 28.  Photo: Reuters.

General Mark Milley holds a press conference at the Pentagon on January 28. Image: Reuters.

Randy Schriver, a former Pentagon adviser on Asia policy under President Donald Trump, criticized China’s way of ignoring communications from the US as unwise and risky.

He said that cutting off military contacts is one of China’s familiar measures when there is tension with the US. However, the former Pentagon official worries that Beijing’s current diplomatic retaliatory tactics will increase the risk of conflict, especially when tensions are high across the Taiwan Strait.

“If the Chinese military becomes increasingly aggressive and is frequently positioned near US forces, the more we need a dialogue mechanism to ensure a safe operating environment,” Schriver said.

Beijing announced yesterday that it was suspending communication with Washington in a number of important areas, including exchanges between senior military commanders of the two countries, regional commanders and maritime safety dialogue.

The announcement did not directly refer to communications between US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Mark Milley with their counterparts in China. Beijing said it remains open to communication at the leadership level.

US National Security Council spokesman John Kirby later said China “doesn’t rule out the whole opportunity for dialogue between senior members of the two countries’ militaries”. The White House is concerned that Beijing’s move will increase the risk of unintended incidents, especially when the tense area is concentrated in the military assets of the two countries.

The Chinese military held six live-fire drills around the island of Taiwan on August 4-7, a day after US House Speaker Pelosi finished her visit to the island.

The military move is the largest scale in decades. The drill location is in the Taiwan Strait, Ba Si Canal, East China Sea and Pacific Ocean. One of the six drill areas is located less than 20 kilometers from Kaohsiung City, on the southern island of Taiwan.

Taiwanese officials today accused the mainland of deploying military ships and aircraft to practice attacks on the island. Some assets have crossed the Taiwan Strait median line, which is implicitly understood as the security demarcation line in the strait.

Name (Theo Politico)

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