Written by: euronews with ap
US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said Saturday that dialogue between the United States and China is “essential” and will avoid miscalculations that could lead to conflict.
Austin was speaking in Singapore at the Shangri-La conference devoted to dialogue on defense issues, after Beijing rejected an invitation for a formal meeting between him and his Chinese counterpart Li Changfu. However, the two ministers shook hands and spoke for the first time during the opening dinner of this conference.
“The United States believes that open lines of communication with the People’s Republic of China are essential, particularly between military and defense officials” in the two countries, Austin said in a speech.
“The more we talk, the more we can avoid misunderstandings and miscalculations that could lead to crisis or conflict,” he added.
The United States had invited me to meet with Austin on the sidelines of the conference. But Beijing refused, and a spokeswoman said, “The United States clearly knows why there are currently difficulties in military communication” between the two countries.
In 2018, the US administration imposed sanctions on Shangfu, who became defense minister last March, for purchasing Russian weapons. But the Pentagon says that does not preclude Austin from having a formal dialogue with him.
Austin lamented during the conference, saying that “a friendly handshake at a dinner party is not a substitute for a substantial commitment.”
Austin is currently on an Asian tour that has taken him to Japan and will also include a visit to India.
This tour comes within the framework of Washington’s efforts to strengthen its alliances and partnerships in the region in the face of China’s rising influence.