Home Politics Monitor Washington and Beijing to meet over Taiwan
Politics Monitor

Washington and Beijing to meet over Taiwan

American Defense Minister Lloyd Austin will meet his Chinese counterpart Dong Jun next week, the Pentagon announced on Friday, at a time when Beijing undertook large-scale military maneuvers around Taiwan.

The island, of which Beijing claims sovereignty, is supported militarily by the United States, which opposes any modification by force of the status of Taiwan, without calling for its independence.

According to the Pentagon, Lloyd Austin will meet with Admiral Dong Jun on the sidelines of their participation from May 31 to June 2 at the Shangri-La Dialogue in Singapore, an annual summit for defense officials around the world.

“The war”
China on Friday accused Taiwan’s new President Lai Ching-te of pushing the island toward “war” as Chinese warships and fighter jets surrounded the territory in military maneuvers.

Beijing announced the end of these maneuvers on Friday. The Chinese army “successfully completed” the “Joint Sword-2024A” exercises directed against Taiwan, a presenter from CCTV-7, the Chinese state television responsible for military news, declared Friday evening.

The army’s Eastern theater of operations announced Thursday morning that it had started these maneuvers, scheduled to last until Friday inclusive. But he had still not explicitly confirmed on Saturday that they had ended the day before.

Washington called on Beijing for “restraint,” saying “China must not use the political transition in Taiwan as a pretext or excuse for provocative and coercive measures.”

Blinken’s visit
The meeting between Lloyd Austin and Dong Jun had been widely anticipated since their telephone discussion in April – the first exchange between the two powers’ defense ministers in nearly 18 months.

Joe Biden’s United States and China have strengthened their communication channels in an effort to ease tensions between the two countries. The head of American diplomacy Antony Blinken made an official visit to Beijing and Shanghai last month.

But defense issues lagged behind in this relaxation of tensions until the decision in November by Chinese President Xi Jinping to resume high-level military dialogue during a meeting with Joe Biden in California.

Lloyd Austin will also travel to Cambodia next week for discussions with defense ministers from the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), before finishing his trip in France, where he will join Joe Biden for the celebration of the 80th anniversary of the Landings.

New operation
The trip was announced despite a “non-surgical procedure” planned for Lloyd Austin on Friday evening, for which he plans to temporarily hand over duties to his deputy Kathleen Hicks.

The procedure, “related to his bladder problem,” will make him “temporarily incapable of performing his duties,” announced Pentagon spokesperson Pat Ryder.

Lloyd Austin, 70, came under fire at the start of the year for not having informed the White House of his hospitalization for complications linked to cancer treatment.

This article is originally published on lematin.ch

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