US Defense Secretary Receiving Silent Treatment From Chinese Generals

According to a report, the U.S. Secretary of Defense, thus far, has not talked to the leading officials of China’s military since he took office back in January 2021. The fact remains despite efforts from the Pentagon for communication. 

On Friday, a U.S. defense official confirmed to Reuters a strained relationship between the U.S. and China. However, the source added that the U.S. certainly would want to talk; they just wanted to make sure that they have a conversation at the right level. 

Meanwhile, a second U.S. defense official also told Reuters that the Biden administration has yet to determine whether the Secretary of Defense should first reach out. They are also trying to decide whether or not they should contact Central Military Commission Vice Chairman Xu Qiliang or Chinese Defense Minister Wei Fenghe. 

Xu Qilian is said to have a more substantial influence on Chinese President Xi Jinping.

Relationship Between U.S. and China at a Low Point

The scheduled Shangri-La Dialogue Asian security summit in Singapore next month might have given Austin the chance to speak with Wei. However, it was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

“China State Visit” (CC BY 2.0) by Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office

The relationship between the U.S. and China is at its lowest. Recently it was a result of the distrust of the origins of the COVID-19 pandemic. It was added by Chinese browbeating toward Taiwan and its treatment of Muslims in Xinjiang. This was also agitated by China’s claims in the South China Sea.

A warning was issued by the Chinese government earlier this week. They made a statement that the U.S. should not “stir up trouble.”

This statement was made after a guided-missile destroyer passed through Taiwan Strait. The USS destroyer also entered waters surrounding a group of islands that China claims as to their territory. 

China has also strengthened its island holdings within the very critical South China Sea. They also built a new island outpost by piling sand cement on coral reefs and covering them with airstrips and other infrastructures. Other than this, they also build the world’s biggest navy and coast guard.

Territorial Claims by Neighboring Countries, Ignored

Meanwhile, territorial claims by smaller neighboring countries around China have been ignored. Including among them were calls from the Philippines and Vietnam. China also ignored the international arbitral ruling that declared most of its territorial claims in the South China Sea. 

In response to these daunting moves, the U.S. Navy routinely administers its freedom of navigation operations. A move to support its right to sail in international waters. 

Then, on Thursday, the Chinese People’s Liberation Army made a statement accusing the U.S. of escalating the risk of “misunderstandings, misjudgments.” They also accused the U.S. of escalating “accidents at sea.” Accordingly, the Chinese Army also alleged that USS Curtis Wilbur’s movements were “unprofessional and irresponsible.”

In response to this, the U.S. Navy’s 7th Fleet called the claims of China “false.” They added that Beijing has been asserting “excessive and illegitimate maritime claims.” The 7th Fleet alleged that China does all these at the expense of the Southeast Asian neighbors in the South China Sea.”

The 7th Fleet also added that the freedom of navigation operation of the USS Curtis Wilbur followed international law.