Antony Blinken fails to resume US-China military communications

Foreign Minister Antony Blinken admitted on Monday that when he met Chinese President Xi Jinping on the government’s long-awaited trip to Beijing, he had failed to persuade China to agree to a resumption of US-China military communications .

“I think it’s absolutely vital that we have that kind of communication, military-to-military,” Blinken said at a news conference, citing recent interactions between the US and Chinese military, such as a Chinese one Fighter jet heading for a US military plane over the South China Sea in late May.

“As of this writing, China has not agreed to go ahead with this. I think this is an issue we need to continue working on. It’s very important that we restore those channels,” he said.

The Joe Biden administration hopes Blinken’s trip will put US-China relations on a better footing after a series of previous visits have angered Beijing, including then-House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s (D-CA) trip to Taiwan last year and Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-Wen’s meetings with Speaker of the House Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) and other lawmakers in California in March.

China views Taiwan as its territory and the US’s close relationship with the democratic nation as interference in its internal affairs.

Watch: Biden’s Secretary of State Blinken Says ‘We Do Not Support Taiwan Independence’ During Visit to China

US Department of State

Adding to the excitement was the fact that a Chinese spy balloon flew over the US mainland in early February this year. Blinken was scheduled to visit Beijing at the time but had to postpone the trip due to anger from both Republicans and Democrats over the balloon flying by and intelligence gathering on sensitive US military sites.

Flashback – Tester: China will send more balloons and this must not be repeated; We need a plan for the next one to be incapacitated or shot down

Immediately after Blinken’s trip was postponed, the Biden administration attempted to postpone the meeting, but so far has been unable to do so.

Beijing has virtually frozen high-level military communications with the Pentagon and recently rejected Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin’s proposal to speak with his Chinese counterpart at an Asian security conference in Singapore.

Therefore, one of the Biden administration’s demands on China during this trip was to resume military communications between the US and China, especially as the Chinese military has increased its aggressiveness towards Taiwan and the US military has attempted to open up the waterways in the country to keep the region open to international passage and to deter further Chinese aggression against Taiwan.

Blinken said the Biden administration will “continue to work” to restore military ties with China.

He said:

If we agree that we have a responsibility to manage this relationship responsibly, if we agree that it is in our mutual interest to ensure that the competitive aspects of the relationship do not conflict, then we can we certainly agree and recognize the need to ensure that the channels of communication that we both said are necessary for this also include military-to-military channels.

“We will continue to work on that and as I said there is no immediate progress but it remains a priority for us,” he added.

TOPSHOT -- U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken (L) shakes hands with Chinese President Xi Jinping at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, June 19, 2023.  On June 19, President Xi Jinping hosted Antony Blinken for talks in Beijing that marked the conclusion of two days of high-level talks by the US Secretary of State with Chinese officials.  (Photo by Leah MILLIS/POOL/AFP) (Photo by LEAH MILLIS/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken (left) shakes hands with China’s President Xi Jinping at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing June 19, 2023. (Photo by LEAH MILLIS/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)

Austin said during a Friday news conference he would continue trying to speak to his counterpart. In response to a question, he said, “I’m confident that in time that will happen. We’ll meet eventually, but we’re not there yet, not because we haven’t tried and we won’t keep trying.”

“The door is open and my line is open so they can pick up the phone and call anytime and we will continue to work to ensure we have open lines of communication,” he said.

“I think it’s important that countries with significant military capacity and capabilities have the means to talk to each other so that we can deal with potential crises and make sure things don’t get unnecessarily out of control,” he added added.

“You know, the type of relationship we want to have with China is one of competition and not one of contention, so we will continue to work to ensure that we open those lines of communication wherever and whenever possible.”

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