During the APEC summit in San Francisco, US President Joe Biden and Chinese President Xi Jinping had a high-level meeting regarding military-to-military communications for about 2 hours on 15 November 2023.
Both Presidents reached agreements on several key areas that include curbing the production of illicit fentanyl and resuming military-to-military communications, according to a senior administration official from the White House. They also agreed to engage in intergovernmental dialogue on artificial intelligence and add direct flights between the two countries.
Military-to-military communications between the US and China
US and China pledged military cooperation that would bring the U.S. and China closer to resuming regular talks under what’s known as the Military Maritime Consultative Agreement, which until 2020 had been used to improve safety in the air and on the sea.
Military-to-military communications open the door for agreements at senior levels, including allowing the Hawaii-based commander of U.S. Pacific forces to engage with counterpart theater commanders.
After the high-level meeting, Chinese President Xi and Biden agreed to resume high-level military dialogues based on equity and respect between both the US and China.
The agreement comes after US military leaders had expressed repeated concerns about the lack of communication with China, particularly as the number of unsafe or unprofessional incidents between the two nations’ ships and aircraft has spiked.
As per the Pentagon’s report on China’s military power, Beijing has for very long “denied, canceled or ignored” military-to-military communications and meetings with the Pentagon.
Military-to-military communications are essential for the US to maintain peace and harmony in the Indo-Pacific region. The aggressive attitude of China in the Indo-Pacific and South China Sea is worrisome for the US and its allies.
Direct military contacts between the US and Beijing dropped off during the COVID-19 pandemic, due both to travel restrictions and tensions over China’s potential responsibility for the deadly virus that began within Chinese borders. In August 2022, Beijing suspended all military contacts with the US in the wake of former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan.
Tensions grow between the US and China. White House officials suggested China was using Pelosi’s visit as a convenient excuse to cut off ties, which were strained by other points of contention, including strict economic sanctions.
Military-to-military communications are necessary for the US to maintain peace and harmony in the Indo-Pacific region. The aggressive attitude of China in the Indo-Pacific and South China Sea is worrisome for the US and its allies.
The resume of Military-to-Military Communications between China and the US would be beneficial for the US role in the Indo-Pacific region.
The lack of communication between the US and China heightened worries about an increase in risk. Even though tensions with Russia have spiked over the war in Ukraine, military commanders have continued to use a telephone line to the conflict operations in Syria.
Tension between China and US also grew when US shot the spy ballon of China on its soil. US is concerned about China’s growing presence in Indo-Pacific and other regions like Arab region after China played role of mediator between Saudi Arabia and Iran.
Currently, when the conflicts like Russia-Ukraine War and the Israel-Hamas War are going on around the world, peace and cooperation between nations are important. This military cooperation between the US and China is a positive step forward. APEC Summit played a crucial role in bringing Chinese President Xi Jinping and US President Joe Biden together on an international platform to communicate.