The Pentagon had suggested a meeting between Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and Chinese Defense Minister Li Shangfu, but the Chinese defense ministry declined the invitation. According to the US Department of Defense, maintaining open lines of communication between Washington and Beijing is integral to avoiding conflict.
An unnamed US defense official was quoted as saying China’s rejection was “an unusually blunt message”. Recent attempts by the Pentagon to establish contact with Chinese counterparts have failed. Early this month, Beijing had reportedly informed Washington there was “little chance” for a meeting due to sanctions placed on the Chinese defense minister for alleged involvement in Russian weapons purchases.
The Chinese foreign ministry has stated that they doubt the credibility of Washington’s willingness to engage in dialogue while simultaneously engaging in “economic coercion”, human rights abuses and escalating tensions in the Taiwan Strait accusations made by G7 during a summit in Hiroshima, Japan earlier this month.