Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III emphasized the importance of maintaining open lines of military-to-military communication at multiple levels between the United States and China during his first meeting with Chinese Defense Minister Dong Jun.

The two met today in Singapore on the margins of the Shangri-La Dialogue to discuss U.S.-China defense relations, as well as regional and global security issues. 

The secretary expressed concern about recent provocative activity by China’s army around the Taiwan Strait, and he reiterated that China should not use Taiwan’s political transition — part of a normal, routine democratic process — as a pretext for coercive measures.   

The United States remains committed to its longstanding “One China” policy, which is guided by the Taiwan Relations Act, the three U.S.-China Joint Communiques and the Six Assurances.  

The secretary also reaffirmed the importance of peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait. 

Austin underscored the importance of respect for the high seas’ freedom of navigation that is guaranteed under international law, especially in the South China Sea.  

“The United States will continue to fly, sail and operate safely and responsibly wherever international law allows,” he said. 

He also discussed Russia’s unprovoked war against Ukraine and China’s role in supporting Russia’s defense industrial base.  

The secretary also expressed concerns about recent provocations from North Korea, including its direct contributions to Russia’s ongoing assault on Ukraine. 

Today’s meeting follows the secretary’s April 16 video teleconference with his Chinese counterpart. Defense Department officials said they will continue active discussions with Chinese officials about future engagements between defense and military officials at multiple levels.  

A senior defense official who was present at the 75-minute meeting between the defense leaders, characterized the secretary’s discussions as clear, direct, candid, firm and professional. 

Austin said he was concerned about China’s coercive behavior against the Philippines, emphasizing the U.S. commitment to its ally is “ironclad,” the official said. 

He also expressed concerns regarding China’s support for Russia’s defense sector, telling China’s defense minister that if it continues, the United States and its allies will have to take further measures, the official said. 

Austin also told the defense minister that China’s growing nuclear, space and cyber development of capabilities are a concern to the United States, according to the official. 

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