Senior defense officials from the United States and China met in Cambodia Tuesday, possibly to lower the temperature of lingering tensions between the countries, dating back to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's August visit to Taiwan.
According to the Associated Press, Tuesday's meeting of Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and Gen. Wei Fenghe, China's minister of national defense, marked the second face-to-face encounter in six months between the military chiefs.
In a Pentagon press release, Austin pressed China's Wei on the "increasingly dangerous behavior" of Beijing's forces occupying the Indo-Pacific region.
As a counter, Beijing reasoned that its air force pilots demonstrated "maximum restraint" with various military exercises or simulations — featuring other countries — taking place in the South China Sea.
According to Brig. Gen. Pat Ryder, the Pentagon press secretary, Austin then told Wei the U.S. would "continue to fly, sail and operate wherever international law allows."
Ryder added, "Secretary Austin emphasized the need to responsibly manage competition and maintain open lines of communication."
Shortly after that, the Pentagon reports that Austin "underscored his opposition to unilateral changes to the status quo" and asked China to refrain from destabilizing actions toward Taiwan.
Back in August, Newsmax chronicled the comments of a Bi-khim Hsiao, Taiwan's highest-ranking official based in the United States, who believed that Speaker Pelosi's Taiwan visit brought worldwide credibility to the region — despite China's public objections to the visit.
"The more [China bullies] us, the more we need friends," said Hsiao, just hours before the U.S. and Taiwan divulged plans to conduct trade negotiations.
On Tuesday, Chinese Defense Ministry spokesperson Senior Col. Tan Kefei described the U.S.-China talks "as a concrete measure to implement the important consensus reached between Xi and Biden," according to the AP.
General Wei offered a similar acknowledgment, according to a Chinese defense ministry readout. He said Xi and Biden were "charting the right course for the development of China-U.S. relations."
However, the above comment came with a caveat.
Wei said: "The responsibility for the current situation in China-U.S. relations lies with the U.S., not with China."
"... China values the development of relations between the two countries and the two militaries, but the U.S. must respect China's core interests," added Wei.
According to Newsweek, Wei repeated Xi's description of Taiwan as "the very core of China's core interests" and represents "the first red line that must not be crossed in China-U.S. relations."
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