US Secretary of Defence chief Lloyd Austin stressed the importance of communication during a stopover Thursday in Tokyo. He called it “unfortunate” that his Chinese counterpart is refusing to meet him at an upcoming annual security conference in Singapore. In which both men are attending.
The US military said Tuesday that a Chinese fighter jet flew aggressively close to a US reconnaissance aircraft over the South China Sea. Forcing the American pilot to fly through the turbulent wake.
On the way to the annual Shangri-La Dialogue Asian security summit this weekend, Austin held talks with Japanese Defense Minister Yasukazu Hamada. Noting China’s increasingly assertive military actions in international airspace and waterways in the region.
He told a joint news conference in Tokyo, “The provocative intercepts of our aircraft and also our allies’ aircraft. That’s very concerning, and we would hope that they would alter their action.”
“I’m concerned about at some point having an incident that could very, very quickly spiral out of control,” Austin said. “I would welcome any opportunity to engage with leadership.”I think defence departments should be talking to each other on a routine basis or should have open channels for communication”.
Japan, China to hold defence talks
Although Beijing said there will be no meeting between US defence chief Austin and his Chinese counterpart at the security summit. Hamada is expected to attend and meet with Chinese Minister of National Defense Li Shangfu on the sidelines.
Japan and China set up a defence hotline in March. To improve communication and avoid accidental encounters in the tense region. Hamada and Li recently held their first telephone talks on the hotline.
Washington and Beijing have yet to hold such a talk. When Austin phoned their crisis line in February, the call went unanswered.
“We need to strengthen our cooperation of Japan-U.S., and Japan-U.S.-South Korea,” Hamada said Thursday. Moreover the two criticized North Korea’s failed rocket launch Wednesday. For using ballistic missile technology that’s prohibited under United Nations’ Security Council resolutions