Beijing has declined a US invitation for a meeting in Singapore between US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin and his Chinese counterpart, Li Shangfu (李尚福), the Pentagon said.
“Overnight, the PRC informed the US that they have declined our early May invitation for Secretary Austin to meet with PRC Minister of National Defense Li Shangfu in Singapore this week,” Pentagon spokesman Brigadier General Pat Ryder said on Monday in a statement, referring to the People’s Republic of China.
“The PRC’s concerning unwillingness to engage in meaningful military-to-military discussions will not diminish [the Department of Defense’s] commitment to seeking open lines of communication with the People’s Liberation Army,” he said.
When asked about the meeting, the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs would not confirm that Beijing had declined the invitation.
“The US knows clearly why there are currently difficulties in military communication between China and the US,” Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesperson Mao Ning (毛寧) told a regular press conference yesterday.
“The US should earnestly respect China’s concerns of sovereignty, security and interests, immediately correct its incorrect actions, show sincerity, and create the atmosphere and conditions for China-US military dialogue,” she said.
A senior US defense official described the declined invitation as “just the latest in a litany of excuses,” saying that since 2021, China has “declined or failed to respond to over a dozen requests from the Department of Defense for key leader engagements, multiple requests for standing dialogues and nearly 10 working-level engagements.”
Li was sanctioned by the US government in 2018 for buying Russian weapons, but the Pentagon says that does not prevent Austin from conducting official business with him.
The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) removed former minister of foreign affairs Qin Gang (秦剛) from his post after an investigation concluded that he had conducted an affair and fathered a child while serving as ambassador to the US, the Wall Street Journal reported. Top officials were told in August that a CCP inquiry into Qin uncovered “lifestyle issues,” the newspaper reported yesterday, citing people familiar with the situation that it did not describe. That phrase usually means sexual misbehavior of some type in the parlance of Chinese officialdom. Two of the people said the affair led to the birth of a child in
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