By: Micaela Burrow, Daily Caller News Foundation
President Joe Biden and Chinese President Xi Jinping are preparing to announce the resumption of communications between the two countries’ militaries after Beijing broke channels in 2022, Axios reported, citing three people familiar with the matter.
The Pentagon has warned about the dangers of a prolonged disruption in military-to-military communication, including increasing the chance of accidental escalation during one of Beijing’s many aggressive air interceptions of U.S. aircraft. After incremental progress in lower-level engagements, Biden and Xi will likely announce restored communication channels when they come together on the sidelines of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum next week, according to Axios.
Biden made it a priority to restore ties as he seeks to stabilize relations with America’s greatest geopolitical rival, according to Axios. Chinese foreign minister Wang Yi expressed interest in reopening channels during his visit to Washington last week, two people familiar with the matter said.
It would be a major shift after Secretary of State Antony Blinken failed to work out an agreement with Wang in June, one of his primary objectives during the trip to Beijing.
In addition, Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin reportedly refused an invitation to attend a Beijing defense summit in October after, in late May, China’s former defense minister Li Shangfu shunned an offer to engage with him. Another Pentagon representative attended the summit.
Beijing broke off communication with the U.S. military after former Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi visited Taiwan in August of 2022. Beijing characterized the event as an overt challenge to its claims of sovereignty over the democratically-ruled island.
The broken channels included the Defense Policy Coordination Talks and the Military Maritime Consultative Agreement, a 1998 agreement providing for regular interactions between ship and aircraft operators, according to Axios.
Xi has not confirmed his attendance at the upcoming APEC summit in San Francisco or his meeting with Biden, which took months to arrange, Axios reported.
However, evidence of thawing in military communication has emerged in recent months.
In August. Adm. John Aquilino, commander of U.S. Indo-Pacific Command, met with unnamed Chinese military officials at a conference in Fiji, the Pentagon confirmed, according to Reuters.
White House officials called the engagements “limited” early signs that military-to-military communication may return, Reuters reported.
The White House and the Department of Defense did not immediately respond to the Daily Caller News Foundation’s request for comment.