The Chinese administration has refused a meeting proposed by the United States of America at the level of defense ministers, on the occasion of a security forum in Singapore. The rejection of the invitation was announced by the Department of Defense in Washington.
Beijing refused Washington
Beijing declined the invitation of US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin for a meeting with his Chinese counterpart Li Shangfu in Singapore. The announcement was made on Tuesday by Pentagon spokesman Pat Ryder.
Lloyd Austin will tour Asia this week, visiting Japan, India and Singapore, where the Shangri-La Dialogue Security Forum is meeting.
“The People’s Republic of China (PRC) informed the US overnight that it declined our invitation from early May for Secretary (Lloyd) Austin to meet with PRC Minister of National Defense Li Shangfu in Singapore this week.
The (Defense) Department strongly believes in the importance of maintaining open lines of military communication between Washington and Beijing to ensure that this rivalry does not turn into conflict,” the Pentagon told the Wall Street Journal.
Washington, several failed attempts
In fact, Washington had several attempts, starting in March, to facilitate a conversation between Lloyd Austin and the Chinese defense minister.
Bilateral relations have been tense since February, when the United States of America shot down a Chinese spy balloon crossing American airspace. Following that incident, the Biden administration is trying to improve relations with Beijing.
“It’s a complicated relationship with ups and downs,” John Kirby, the National Security Council’s strategic communications coordinator at the White House, said last week.
US defense officials said the new rejection of Washington’s proposal to China was made in an “unusually blunt” message.
Some US officials have warned that China’s refusal to hold the meeting could raise concerns among US allies in Southeast Asia, who are worried they could find themselves caught in the middle between the two powers.