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China would have rejected a call from the Pentagon chief three times for violation of protocol

Published:

26 may 2021 11:55 GMT

Lloyd Austin would have liked to speak with Xu Qiliang, vice chairman of China’s Central Military Commission, when Beijing considers his counterpart to be Defense Minister Wei Fenghe.

Washington continues to try to enter into a dialogue with representatives of the Chinese military leadership, after Beijing allegedly rejected several requests for telephone conversations from the head of the Pentagon, Lloyd Austin, for protocol violations.

According Financial Times, which cites an anonymous source from the US Defense Department, the Chinese side reportedly rejected Austin’s requests to speak with Xu Qiliang, vice chairman of China’s Central Military Commission, on three occasions. For its part, Global Times explains that the Pentagon did not follow diplomatic protocol.


A Chinese military source specified in statements to South China Morning Post that Beijing considers Austin’s counterpart to be Defense Minister Wei Fenghe and not Xu, so Austin’s request offended the Chinese Defense Ministry.

“We wish to have a dialogue”

Pentagon spokesman John Kirby told reporters Tuesday that the US authorities “certainly want to have a dialogue” with Beijing. “We want to have a dialogue with our counterparts in Beijing, and we are still working on how it will be and how it will happen,” he said.

Plans for talks were also set back by the cancellation of the Shangri-La Dialogue security forum, which was to be held in Singapore next month, but was suspended due to the increase in COVID-19 cases in the city-state. Austin had planned to attend as part of his trip to Asia, while China also reportedly sent a delegation and was considering sending Wei.

  • Meanwhile, military tensions between the two countries continue, with protests from Beijing over the US military presence in the region. China denounced last Thursday that the US warship USS Curtis Wilbur “illegally entered” its territorial waters in the South China Sea, and it “resolutely” opposed this action by Washington. Previously, China on Tuesday voiced a strong protest over the passage of the USS Curtis Wilbur through the Taiwan Strait.

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