US President Joe Biden’s administration and China have been stepping up communication to ease friction between the nuclear-armed rivals, with Secretary of State Antony Blinken visiting Beijing and Shanghai last month.

A key focus has been the resumption of military-to-military dialogue.

China scrapped military communications with the US in 2022 in response to then-US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan.

Tensions between Washington and Beijing were stoked further during 2023 by issues including an alleged Chinese spy balloon that was shot down over US airspace, a meeting between Taiwan’s then-president Tsai Ing-wen and Pelosi’s successor Kevin McCarthy, and American military aid for Taipei.

The two sides agreed after a summit between Chinese leader Xi Jinping and Biden in November last year to restart high-level military talks.

PRESSURE POINTS

That includes a communications channel between the US Indo-Pacific Command chief and Chinese commanders responsible for military operations near Taiwan, Japan and in the South China Sea.

Chinese and American forces have had a series of close encounters in the disputed waterway that China claims almost entirely.

Austin warned prior to Biden and Xi agreeing to resume military-to-military dialogue that accidents have the potential to spiral out of control, especially in the absence of open lines of communication between American and Chinese forces.

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