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An aerial view of the Pentagon, May 15, 2023. © Navy Petty Officer 2nd Class Alexander Kubitza, DOD

Austin Meets Virtually With Chinese Defense Minister for First Time

Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III spoke with his Chinese counterpart via video teleconference about an assortment of topics, including both regional and global security issues

Published on April 17, 2024

Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III held his first engagement with Adm. Dong Jun, defense minister of China, yesterday via video teleconference at the Pentagon.

The two leaders covered an assortment of topics during their discussion, including defense relations between the U.S. and China, as well as both regional and global security issues.

“[Austin] … underscored the importance of respect for high seas freedom of navigation guaranteed under international law — especially in the South China Sea — and reiterated that the United States will continue to fly, sail and operate safely and responsibly, wherever international law allows,” Pentagon Press Secretary Air Force Maj. Gen. Pat Ryder said during a briefing.

The secretary reiterated that the U.S. remains committed to its One China Policy, which is guided by the Three Joint Communiques, the Taiwan Relations Act and the Six Assurances.

Austin also discussed Russia’s unprovoked invasion and subsequent war in Ukraine, as well as concerns about recent provocations from North Korea, Ryder said.

The discussion, wherein Austin stressed the importance of keeping military-to-military communication lines between the U.S. and China open, followed a series of other U.S.-China talks dating back to December of last year.

On Dec. 21, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Air Force Gen. CQ Brown, Jr., met virtually with his Chinese military counterpart, People’s Liberation Army Gen. Liu Zhenli. In January, senior U.S. and Chinese defense officials gathered for two days at the Pentagon to discuss defense relations between the two countries. And earlier this month U.S. and Chinese officials met for working-level talks aimed at ensuring professional and safe interactions between the two countries’ air and naval forces.

“The department will continue to engage in active discussions with PRC [People’s Republic of China] counterparts about future engagements between defense and military officials at multiple levels, as agreed by President Biden and PRC President Xi Jinping in November 2023,” Ryder said.

Newsdesk Staff