The chair of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen. C.Q. Brown, spoke to his Chinese counterpart on Thursday morning, the Pentagon said in a statement as the United States and China resumed military communications.
Brown's conversation with China's Gen. Liu Zhenli ended a nearly year-and-a-half impasse between the nations' militaries, a freeze sparked by then-House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan in August 2022.
It was the first of what officials said will be renewed talks between the two nation's senior military leaders, as the Biden administration works to thaw relations with Beijing.
Their contact via Zoom comes on the heels of similar conversations between top U.S. and Chinese diplomats, all triggered by the meeting last month between President Joe Biden and China's President Xi Jinping.
Biden's meeting with Xi, on the sidelines of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit in San Francisco, was aimed in part at restoring the military talks amid escalating concerns about frequent unsafe or unprofessional incidents between the two nations’ ships and aircraft in the Pacific region.
Brown and Liu “discussed the importance of working together to responsibly manage competition, avoid miscalculations, and maintain open and direct lines of communication,” said Navy Capt. Jereal Dorsey, Brown’s spokesman, in the statement.
The U.S. has consistently viewed military communications with China as critical to avoiding any missteps between their armed forces and to maintaining a peaceful Indo-Pacific region.
Brown's call is the first Cabinet-level communication with China since Secretary of State Antony Blinken spoke on Dec. 6 with Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi.
While few other details about Brown's call were released, a senior U.S. defense official and a senior military official said it was an important first step. These are the kinds of discussions that the U.S. needs to have with China, they said, in order to avoid misunderstandings or miscalculations as the two militaries interact. The two officials spoke to reporters on condition of anonymity to provide information before the call.
They said the U.S. is talking with China at various levels to work out a series of calls and meetings in the coming weeks and months. They include plans to hold the bilateral Defense Policy Coordination Talks early next year and the possible resumption of the China-U.S. Military Maritime Consultative Agreement talks in the spring.
During the call Brown reaffirmed the importance of holding the policy and maritime talks as well as opening the lines of communication with top Pacific commanders from the two countries, Dorsey said in his statement.
This report contains material from Reuters and The Associated Press.
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