“I think it’s unfortunate,” Austin told reporters in Tokyo, warning that after recent “provocative interceptions” by Chinese warplanes, he was more concerned about the possibility of a crash that “could quickly spin out of control,” according to AFP.
On Monday, the Pentagon announced that Beijing had rejected a US invitation to hold a meeting between US and Chinese defense ministers this week on the sidelines of a defense summit in Singapore.
“The People’s Republic of China has informed the United States that it is declining an invitation from us in early May for a meeting this week in Singapore between Secretary Austin and Chinese Minister of National Defense Li Shangfu,” the door said. -Pentagon spokesman, General Pat Ryder, in a statement. Monday.
“The People’s Republic of China’s unwillingness to engage in meaningful military talks is worrisome, but it will not weaken the Department of Defense’s commitment to seek to open lines of communication with the People’s Army. release,” Ryder said.
For its part, Beijing was content to say through its spokesperson: “The United States clearly knows the reason for the current difficulties in military communication”.
Austin stopped in Tokyo for a short visit on the way to Singapore, telling reporters, “They’ve heard me talk many times about the importance of high-potential countries and the need for them to talk to each other so to be able to manage crises and prevent things from getting unnecessarily out of control.” .
He added that the “recent provocative interceptions of our planes and those of our allies” by China are “extremely disturbing”.
“I hope they change their actions, but since they haven’t yet I’m afraid an accident will happen at some point and it will spiral out of control very quickly.”
Furthermore, earlier, a senior Defense Ministry official described the refusal to accept the invitation as “the latest in a series of apologies”, and said that China, from 2021, ” rejected or did not respond to more than 12 requests for communication from the Ministry of Defense between the two directorates, and on several requests for permanent dialogues, and about ten requests for communication at the level of the work teams.
The US administration imposed sanctions on Li Shang Fu in 2018 over his purchase of Russian weapons, but the Pentagon says the case does not prevent Austin from officially dealing with him.
On Tuesday, the US military announced that a Chinese military pilot performed an “unwarranted aggressive maneuver” on Friday near a US military reconnaissance aircraft flying over the South China Sea.
Video footage released showed a fighter jet passing in front of an American plane shaking due to the turbulence caused by the passing Chinese fighter.
China responded on Wednesday by accusing the United States of carrying out “provocative and dangerous maneuvers”, pointing out that the American reconnaissance aircraft “deliberately entered our training area”.
The events come at a time of rising tensions between Beijing and Washington over issues such as Taiwan and the flight of a Chinese balloon over US territory earlier this year.
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