U.S.-China military communication revival in progress, confirms Beijing

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Senior Colonel Wu Qian

30th November 2023 – (Beijing) Beijing confirmed on Thursday that it is actively in dialogue with Washington to re-establish military communication channels. This move follows the agreement reached by the leaders of these two nations earlier this month. Senior Colonel Wu Qian, the spokesperson for China’s defence ministry, made the announcement during a press briefing, stating that both countries’ defence authorities are co-operating to resume military-to-military communication, underpinned by mutual respect and equality.

This is the inaugural confirmation by the Chinese defence ministry that it is collaborating with the US to re-establish military communication channels. These channels were previously suspended due to an escalation of tensions between the two global powers.

Senior Colonel Wu Qian said, “In line with the consensus reached by the two heads of state, the countries will resume high-level military communication, as well as the China-US Defence Policy Coordination Talks and the China-US Military Maritime Consultative Agreement meetings. Telephone conversations between theatre commanders are also set to take place.”

He further emphasised China’s commitment to its military relationship with the US. The Chinese military is primed to work with its American counterpart to foster a robust and stable bilateral military relationship.

The announcement comes two weeks after Chinese President Xi Jinping and US President Joe Biden met in San Francisco, where they agreed to restore several military communication channels. Some of these channels were previously suspended by Beijing in August last year, following a visit to Taiwan by then U.S. House speaker Nancy Pelosi.

Wu Qian noted that Presidents Xi Jinping and Biden agreed on over 20 deliverables across various sectors during their meeting. These agreements, he said, have charted a course for the healthy, sustainable growth of U.S.-China relations.

In addition, Wu Qian highlighted Beijing’s willingness to cooperate on regulating and enhancing the military use and governance of artificial intelligence (AI). He called on the countries to adopt a prudent and responsible attitude towards the research, development, and application of AI technologies in the military field.

However, Wu Qian also issued a stern warning against US military aid and activities near China’s shores. He criticised plans by Taiwan to purchase six retired US military combat ships and build missile sites, accusing Taiwan of relying on the U.S. and seeking independence. He warned that this could push Taiwan into a disaster and cause significant harm to the Taiwanese people.

Furthermore, Beijing expressed its opposition to Washington’s support for the Philippines’ resupply mission to the Second Thomas Shoal in the disputed Spratly Islands in the South China Sea. Wu Qian cautioned that US intervention could worsen the situation, as proven by historical precedents.