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News   Defense News

Austin Meets With Chinese Counterpart in Singapore

June 10, 2022 | BY Jim Garamone , DOD News

Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III met today with Chinese Defense Minister Gen. Wei Fenghe to discuss U.S.- China defense relations.

A group of people sit around a long table.
Defense Meeting
Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III meets with Chinese Defense Minister Gen. Wei Fenghe at the Shangri-La Dialogue in Singapore, June 10, 2022.
Photo By: Chad J. McNeeley, DOD
VIRIN: 220610-D-TT977-0356A

The two met on the fringes of the Shangri-La Dialogue in Singapore. A senior defense official described the meeting as professional and focused. 

Wei requested the meeting earlier in the week. The meeting was scheduled for 30 minutes but lasted a little less than an hour. 

The two men discussed global and regional security issues and the bilateral defense relationship between the United States and China. They spent most of the meeting discussing Taiwan. 

On the global and regional security issues, the two discussed North Korea and the challenges in Northeast Asia. They also discussed the Russian invasion of Ukraine. "Secretary Austin reiterated the point he made when they spoke on the phone that we were watching the situation very carefully and strongly discouraged China from providing material support to Russia for its war in Ukraine," the official said. 

A sailor guides a helicopter on a flight deck at night.
Chopper Guidance
Navy Petty Officer 2nd Class David Miller directs a Royal Thai navy Sikorsky helicopter during bilateral readiness training aboard the USS Jackson in the Gulf of Thailand, May 25, 2022.
Photo By: Navy Lt.j.g. Alexandra Green
VIRIN: 220525-N-EU544-8765A

Austin and Wei discussed the need for crisis communication between the two militaries. Austin urged China's People's Liberation Army to participate more proactively in crisis communications and crisis management mechanisms. "General Wei was responsive to that," the official said.  

U.S. officials see these lines of communications as guardrails to keep both sides from veering off the road toward escalation, the officials said. 

The conversations could be at the highest levels of the two defense establishments, but the official believes there will be additional open military channels from the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff to his counterpart or from the commander of U.S. Indo-Pacific Command. 

A military aircraft is refueled in midair.
Hornet Refueling
A Marine Corps F/A-18C Hornet conducts aerial refueling with an Air National Guard KC-135 Stratotanker over the Pacific Ocean, May 28, 2022.
Photo By: Marine Corps Cpl. Tyler Harmon
VIRIN: 220528-M-JO217-1534

Austin reiterated to Wei that there is no change in U.S. policy toward Taiwan. He clearly spelled out the U.S. policy, "which is that we are [to] remain committed to our 'One China' policy as enumerated in the Taiwan Relations Act and the Six Assurances, the Three Joint Communiques," the official said. 

Austin also made it clear that the United States does not support any unilateral changes to the status quo, and the United States does not support Taiwan independence. 

Still, the United States also has major concerns about increasing PLA behavior — particularly "unsafe, aggressive, unprofessional behavior," and U.S. officials are concerned "that the PLA may be attempting to change the status quo through its operational behavior."

Two Marines fire a missile during a training exercise.
Missile Exercise
Marines fire a missile system during an exercise at Combined Arms Training Center, Camp Fuji, Japan, May 10, 2022.
Photo By: Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Lorenzo Ducato
VIRIN: 220511-M-GN953-1380

The secretary also read chapter and verse of the Taiwan Relations Act and stressed the part about the peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait "being of grave concern" to the United States, the official said.  

Austin told Wei that the United States will continue to provide arms with defensive character to Taiwan as called for under the act. Also contained in the act is language that says "the United States will maintain the capacity to resist any resort to force that threatens the security of the people on Taiwan," the official said.