China, US military officials held talks to discuss relations

China, US military officials held talks to discuss relations
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U.S. and Chinese defense officials held two days of talks amid strained relations between the two nations, the Pentagon revealed late Wednesday. 

Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for China Michael Chase led the secure video conference on Tuesday and Wednesday with Maj. Gen. Huang Xueping, deputy director of the People’s Liberation Army’s Office for International Military Cooperation. 

“During the talks, the two sides held a frank, in-depth, and open discussion on a range of issues affecting the U.S.-[People’s Republic of China] defense relationship,” according to a Defense Department statement. “Both sides reaffirmed consensus to keep communication channels open. The U.S. side also made clear our commitment to uphold shared principles with our allies and partners in the Indo-Pacific region.” 

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U.S.-China relations remain deeply strained over trade, technology, human rights and military activities in the South China Sea. The U.S. military periodically sends warships and planes to the region to promote freedom of navigation, but China, which has built airstrips and other military infrastructure on man-made islands in the sea, is rankled by the exercises. 

Asked about the talks on Thursday, Pentagon press secretary John KirbyJohn KirbyWarren calls for Senate probe of 2019 Syrian airstrike that killed dozens of civilians Pentagon digs in on vaccine mandate for Oklahoma National Guard Outcry grows over Russian missile test that hit satellite MORE said the meetings were “productive” and “an important first step in the communications process” between the two countries, but declined to give further details. 

But Beijing blamed Washington for “considerable difficulties and challenges” between the two militaries due to its “continuous provocation and containment” of China, Chinese Defense Ministry spokesperson Wu Qian said Thursday.

“China’s sovereignty, dignity and core interests broke no violations,” he said.

He noted, however, that the two sides “exchanged in-depth views on relations between the two countries and the two militaries and issues of common concern.”