US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin, on Wednesday, has shared a word with his Chinese counterpart, General Wei Fenge for the first time since becoming Pentagon chief more than a year ago. The talk comes as the US voiced concerns over Beijing providing military support to Russia for its invasion of Ukraine.
Austin, who termed China as the US military’s leading long-term challenge, requested the telephonic conversation with Gen Wei Fenghe after months of failed efforts to speak with General Xu Qiliang, who is the highest-ranking uniformed officer in the Communist Party military structure.
Lloyd Austin wanted to speak to Xu, who is the Deputy Chairman of the party’s Central Military Commission, as he is the one who controls the People’s Liberation Army. However, Beijing insisted on ongoing as per the protocol and that he speaks with Wei.
Pentagon spokesperson John Kirby has informed that the exchange between Austin and Wei was a ‘follow-up’ to a call between US President Joe Biden and Chinese Prime Minister Xi Jinping in the month of March.
During their conversation, the US President had warned that there would be ‘costs’ if China extended military support to Russia. Kirby revealed that US-PRC (People’s Republic of China) defence relations, regional security issues, and Russian aggression in Ukraine were part of the top diplomats’ discussions.