The United States and China witnessed a breakthrough as their top military officials engaged in a virtual meeting, marking the first such conversation in over a year. The Pentagon disclosed that US Air Force General Charles Q Brown, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, held discussions with General Liu Zhenli of China’s People’s Liberation Army (PLA). The talks covered various global and regional security issues, emphasizing the significance of responsible competition management and the need to avoid misunderstandings.
Resuming Diplomacy: US and China Reconnect in Military Talks
China had suspended high-level talks following a visit to Taiwan by then-US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi in August 2022. However, a recent meeting between the leaders of both nations led to the agreement to resume these crucial discussions. During the online session, General Brown underscored the importance of substantive dialogue to reduce the risk of misunderstandings. He stressed the need for open and direct lines of communication, expressing his willingness to engage in discussions.
In response, General Liu emphasized that developing a healthy military-to-military relationship requires the US to have a correct understanding of China. The Chinese defense ministry released a statement outlining Liu’s perspective, underscoring the importance of respecting China’s territorial sovereignty and maritime rights in the South China Sea.
While the call between Brown and Liu is considered a positive development, US officials have cautioned that restoring military communications is just the beginning. Both nations remain at odds over various issues, including Taiwan, the South China Sea, and trade.
Strategic Communication Continues: US-China Military Talks Evolve After Biden-Xi Meeting
The call is part of broader efforts initiated during the meeting between US President Joe Biden and Chinese President Xi Jinping in November. The leaders had agreed to restore military-to-military communications as a means to ease tensions. Pentagon spokesman Major General Pat Ryder described the call as crucial for preventing miscalculations between the two large militaries.
Liu has emerged as a significant figure in China’s military hierarchy and is seen as a potential replacement for the dismissed national defense minister, General Li Shangfu. The resumption of high-level military talks is a positive step, although challenges persist in resolving broader issues between the two nations.