Pentagon: Mattis to meet with Chinese counterpart this week

Pentagon: Mattis to meet with Chinese counterpart this week

Defense Secretary James Mattis will meet with his Chinese counterpart later this week at the Pentagon, a Defense Department spokesman confirmed Monday.

Col. Rob Manning told reporters that Mattis will meet with Chinese Defense Minister Wei Fenghe during a two-day visit.

Manning said he had no further details on the dates or time of the meetings as “we’re still in the planning process for this.”

The U.S. and China have had a strained military relationship for years, but tensions have been building recently as the Trump administration in September hit Beijing with tariffs on $200 billion in Chinese goods. The president also threatened to impose another $257 billion in tariffs.

Numerous incidents between the two militaries in the disputed South China Sea — including an unsafe interaction in early October between a Chinese warship and a U.S. destroyer — has further inflamed the relationship.

Mattis and Wei last met in October on the sidelines of an Asian security forum and largely discussed China's increasing military presence in the South China Sea, a major international shipping lane. 

Assistant Secretary of Defense Randall Schriver told reporters at the time that Mattis and Wei didn't resolve disagreements between the U.S. and China about the buildup.

“There will be issues that are long-term challenges to manage,” Schriver said.