China tells Pentagon: Dialogue important but not sans principles - M5 Dergi
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China tells Pentagon: Dialogue important but not sans principles

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China’s Defense Ministry spokesman blames US side for difficulties in holding dialogue

China’s Defense Ministry on Wednesday acknowledged the importance of maintaining communication with its US counterpart but said the “principles” guiding bilateral relations could not be ignored.

“China attaches great importance to the development of Sino-US military relations and communication at all levels,” said Tan Kefei, spokesman of China’s Defense Ministry.

Tan said in a statement that dialogue “cannot be without principles, and communication cannot be without a bottom line.”

“The current difficulties in the exchanges between the two militaries are entirely on the US side.

“On the one hand, the US keeps saying that it wants to strengthen communication, but on the other hand, it ignores China’s concerns and artificially creates obstacles, seriously undermining the mutual trust between the two militaries,” said the Chinese Defense Ministry spokesman.

The Defense Ministry statement came after the Pentagon requested a meeting of the defense chiefs of the two countries on the sidelines of an annual security forum in Singapore. Beijing declined the request.

Chinese State Councilor and Defense Minister Gen. Li Shangfu is attending the 20th Shangri-La Dialogue in Singapore from May 31 to June 4.

Lloyd Austin, the US defense secretary, is also attending the dialogue, where global leaders and policymakers will come together to discuss important issues.

On Tuesday, China’s Foreign Ministry asked the US to create a “necessary atmosphere” for bilateral dialogue.

Patrick Ryder, Pentagon spokesman had told Anadolu, that China “informed the US that they have declined our invitation” for Austin to meet with Li Shangfu in Singapore this week.

Ryder, however, stressed the importance of maintaining open channels of communication between the militaries of the two countries to ensure that competition does not turn into conflict.

Li was promoted as China’s chief defense official earlier this year in March. He faces US sanctions for promoting China-Russia defense dealings.

China’s “unwillingness to engage in meaningful military-to-military discussions” will not diminish the US Defense Department’s commitment to seek open lines of communication with the People’s Liberation Army at multiple levels as part of responsibly managing the relationship, said Ryder.

Li’s sanctions designation under the Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act does not prevent Austin from meeting with him in the process of conducting official United States government business, said Ryder.

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