Pentagon chief waits for China to "answer call"

    WORLD  04 June 2023 - 12:31

    US Defense Secretary Austin has said that the US needed to discuss arms control with China, jokingly saying the PRC must "answer the phone" to do so.

    He made the remarks during a panel at the Shangri-La Dialogue regional security forum, Gazeta.Ru reports.

    "As for specific contacts with the PRC on the issue of arms control, this topic needs to be discussed. As soon as [China] responds to our phone call, we will do so," Austin said.

    Meanwhile, The Washington Times reported that Austin vowed on June 3 that Washington would not stand for any “coercion and bullying” of its allies and partners by China, while assuring Beijing that the United States remains committed to maintaining the status quo on Taiwan and would prefer dialogue over conflict.

    Speaking at the so-called Shangri-La Dialogue, an annual forum bringing together top defense officials, diplomats and leaders, Austin lobbied for support for Washington’s vision of a “free, open, and secure Indo-Pacific within a world of rules and rights” as the best course to counter increasing Chinese assertiveness in the region.

    The US has been expanding its own activities around the Indo-Pacific to counter sweeping territorial claims from China, including regularly sailing through and flying over the Taiwan Strait and in the South China Sea.
     
    "We are committed to ensuring that every country can fly, sail and operate wherever international law allows,” he said.
     
    And every country, large or small, must remain free to conduct lawful maritime activities.”

    Austin noted that the US had provided millions of doses of the COVID-19 vaccine during the height of the pandemic and is regularly involved in disaster relief and humanitarian assistance efforts in the region. He said it is working to combat climate change, illegal fishing and ensure that supply chains do not suffer disruptions - ticking off many issues of importance to Asian-Pacific nations.

    Caliber.Az

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