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China, US hold 'productive' defence talks

2022-11-22 HKT 13:01
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  • Defence Minister Wei Fenghe is seen after a meeting with US Secretary of Defence Lloyd Austin. Photo: AP
    Defence Minister Wei Fenghe is seen after a meeting with US Secretary of Defence Lloyd Austin. Photo: AP
Defence Minister Wei Fenghe on Tuesday told his US counterpart that Taiwan is at the core of China's core interests, and was a "red line" that must not be crossed.

"The resolution of Taiwan is a matter for Chinese people, no external force has the right to interfere," Wei said at a meeting with US Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin on the sidelines of a gathering of Southeast Asian defence chiefs in Cambodia.

Wei added the United States must respect China's core interests and hoped it could adopt a rational, practical policy towards China, and get China-US relations back on track.

It was the defence ministers’ second face-to-face talks this year, with US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin emphasising the need to improve crisis communications.

The roughly 90-minute meeting in Cambodia was described as "productive and professional" by a US official. It was the pair's first since a visit to Taiwan by US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi in August enraged Beijing.

Austin discussed the importance of "substantive dialogue on reducing strategic risk and enhancing operational safety," Pentagon spokesman Brigadier General Pat Ryder said in a statement after the meeting.

"He [Austin] raised concerns about the increasingly dangerous behaviour demonstrated by PLA [People's Liberation Army] aircraft in the Indo-Pacific region that increases the risk of an accident," Ryder said.

In June, a Chinese fighter jet dangerously intercepted an Australian military surveillance plane in the South China Sea in May, Australia's defence department said.

A senior US defence official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said Austin and Wei also had a "lengthy" discussion about Taiwan and talked about restarting in the coming months some of the mechanisms that had been cancelled after Pelosi's visit.

"There's an expectation that there will be some restart of some of the mechanisms that have been frozen for the last six months," the official said.

The talks follow a three-hour meeting between President Xi Jinping and the US leader Joe Biden last week on the sidelines of the G20 summit in Indonesia, aimed at preventing strained ties from spilling into a new Cold War. (Reuters)
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Last updated: 2022-11-22 HKT 15:55