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US, China military talks resume after year-long hiatus

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General Charles “CQ” Brown, the chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, engaged in a crucial conversation with China’s General Liu Zhenli on Thursday.

This marks the resumption of high-level defense talks between the two nations after a more than year-long halt.

The freeze in talks began in late 2022 when China expressed its displeasure over a visit by then-US House speaker Nancy Pelosi to Taiwan.

However, leaders from both countries agreed to resume discussions during a recent meeting.

Captain Jereal Dorsey, a spokesman, revealed that General Brown emphasized the importance of responsible competition management, the avoidance of miscalculations, and the maintenance of open communication lines.

The statement further highlighted General Brown’s call for substantive dialogue with the People’s Liberation Army to minimize the risk of misunderstandings.

The military leaders engaged in discussions covering various global and regional security issues during their video teleconference.

The halt in talks was triggered by China’s strong reaction to Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan in August 2022, leading to the suspension of cooperation with the US on critical issues such as climate change, anti-drug efforts, and military talks. China also conducted its largest-ever war games around Taiwan, underscoring the sensitivity of the Taiwan issue.

The recent tensions were exacerbated by incidents in 2023, including the alleged shooting down of a Chinese spy balloon over US airspace, a meeting between Taiwan’s President Tsai Ing-wen and Pelosi’s successor Kevin McCarthy, and American military aid for Taipei.

The thaw in relations was initiated by the summit between US President Joe Biden and Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping in California last month. During the summit, both leaders agreed to restore military-to-military communications and ease tensions. Pentagon spokesman Major General Pat Ryder described the call between General Brown and General Liu as a “positive development,” emphasizing the importance of keeping communication open to prevent miscalculations.

While lower-level military talks persisted during the hiatus, the resumption of regular and higher-level communications is seen as a crucial step towards stabilizing US-China relations.

Bonny Lin, the director of the Center for Strategic and International Studies China Power Project, noted that this dialogue provides a forum for both sides to address concerns and potentially reduce misunderstandings.

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