TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — U.S. and Chinese military leaders held talks on crisis communication this week amid increasingly heightened tensions between the two countries over the disputed South China Sea.
The exchange came amid American Secretary of Defense Mark Esper and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo's tour of India, Sri Lanka, the Maldives, Indonesia, and Vietnam, where they have been urging countries to work with the U.S. to meet the growing security threat posed by China in the Indo-Pacific region.
The American and Chinese militaries held a video conference about crisis communication from Wednesday to Thursday (Oct.28-29), Reuters cited Chinese defense ministry spokesman Wu Qian (吳謙) as saying. Wu said that during the talks, Esper denied a news report that the U.S. was reviewing a plan to hit Chinese man-made islands and reefs in the South China Sea using an MQ-9 drone if President Donald Trump loses the election on Nov. 3.
Esper said Washington “has no intention of creating a military crisis with the Chinese,” according to the spokesman. Wu said, “We urge the U.S. to walk the talk, keep its promise, and take measures to prevent provoking China military [sic] in the air and sea,” adding that Beijing will respond in the event of an attack at sea.
The two countries' militaries will hold avideo conference mid-November on humanitarian aid and one on maritime security before the end of the year, Wu added.
The Pentagon did not say whether Esper had personally participated in the talks but stated they were a chance to create principles to “prevent and manage crisis and reduce risk to forces.” In a statement, the Pentagon said, “The two sides agreed on the importance of establishing mechanisms for timely communication during a crisis, as well as the need to maintain regular communication channels to prevent crisis and conduct post-crisis assessment.”