STORY: Speaking at Asia's top security summit, Austin said that open lines of communication between U.S. and Chinese defense and military leaders were essential to strengthen guard rails against conflict and bolster stability in the Asia-Pacific.
China's Minister of National Defence Li Shangfu had this week declined an invitation to meet Austin at the security summit. On Friday (June 2), the two shook hands on the sidelines of the conference but did not have a "substantive exchange," the Pentagon said. Li delivers his own speech on Sunday (June 4).
In response to Austin's comments, Senior Colonel Zhao Xiaozhuo, a researcher at China's Academy of Military Sciences told reporters the U.S. official risks creating confrontation in the Asia-Pacific region, including over Taiwan
The relationship between the United States and China is at its lowest point in decades, as they remain deeply divided over everything from the sovereignty of Taiwan to espionage and territorial disputes in the South China Sea. One of the thorniest security issues between the two superpowers is over the future of Taiwan, a self-governing territory which Beijing wants to bring under its rule. There are increasing concerns that China could invade Taiwan with the U.S. drawn into any conflict.