US Defense Chief Speaks For First Time With Chinese Counterpart

    Image copyright: AP [via Independent]

    The Facts

    • US Defense Sec. Lloyd Austin and his Chinese counterpart, Wei Fenghe, talked for the first time on Wed., discussing defense relations, regional security, and Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

    • Specifically, the Pentagon chief raised concerns over Chinese military actions in Taiwan, the South China Sea and the East China Sea.

    The Spin

    Pro-China narrative

    Good relations with the US are important for China; it isn't seeking hegemony, and doesn't want a new Cold War. Nevertheless, the US shouldn't underestimate China's determination and capability when it comes to its core interests, and mustn't attempt to challenge red lines.

    Anti-China narrative

    China has a proven desire to reshape the international order and expand its clout in the Pacific region. Further, if its military provocations against Taiwan, human rights abuses in Xinjiang, and efforts to crush Hong Kong's pro-democracy movement weren't enough, the prospect of an alliance with Moscow gives very good reason for the West to be concerned.

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