China and US again seem to be at loggerheads. The Chinese spy balloon controversy continues to be simmering, America has now has accused Beijing for either rejecting or not responding to its requests.
Assistant secretary for Indo-Pacific security affairs in the department of defence (DOD), Ely Ratner, said the US is keen on maintaining open lines of communication with China to avoid misperceptions both during peace and crisis.
According to a report by Hindustan Times, during an interaction at a Washington think tank event, Ratner revealed that the American strategy for the Indo-Pacific was that of discouragement aimed at making costs of conflict in the Taiwan straits too high for China, while ensuring activities that were aimed at the deterrence did not increase to an escalation and were within the scope and needs and preferences of US’ allies and partners.
As per Ratner, this strategy across the Taiwan straits was neither certain nor impending as or the costs for Beijing were too high to bear at the moment. “And our job is to keep it that way,” Ratner said.
The US has been persistently vocal about its wish to have open lines of communication with China. In November last year, President Joe Biden and his Chinese counterpart, during a meeting in Bali, agreed to do so. A visit by Secretary of State Antony Blinken to Beijing was also announced.
Blinken was scheduled to depart for China in February, but days ahead of his visit, the US discovered the alleged spy balloon over the city of Billings in Montana. The incident led to public outrage and cancellation of the visit.
However, recently, US’ National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan met senior Chinese Communist Party foreign policy figure Wang Yi in Vienna, giving hopes of possible renewal of sustained high-level US-China engagement.
As per Ratner, US’ secretary of defence, Lloyd Austin, had stressed upon the importance of these lines of communication, “but unfortunately, we have had a lot of difficulty when we have proposed phone calls, meetings, dialogue.”
Ratner further said America’s requests have been rejected or not answered on several occasions including at the level of Secretary Austin, chairman of the joint chiefs of staff Mike Milley, Indo-Pacific command (INDOPACOM) commander Admiral John C Aquilino, deputy assistant secretary of defence for China Michael Chase, or other civilian or uniformed engagements.
“The US and DOD have had an outstretched hand on this question of military to military engagement but we have yet to have consistently willing partners,” Ratner said.
Ratner further said lines of communication were crucial both during peace time and during a crisis “to prevent misperception and miscalculation and to prevent crises from spinning out of control”. The aim of these mechanisms was to discuss how both sides thought about “emerging domains” and how they were conceiving their strategy in domains “which may have high escalatory potential”.
With inputs from agencies
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