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May 31, 2024
Focus This Week
A community space to discuss the China-U.S. relationship and beyond.

Dear Focus Reader,

Amid a flurry of diplomatic activity in recent months, the U.S. and Chinese defense ministers met in person for the first time since 2022 in Singapore on Friday, on the sidelines of the Shangri-La Dialogue. While the security summit, which hosts military and defense leaders, will continue through June 2, the China-U.S. meeting marked a significant step in attempting to ease tensions between the two global powers amid a contentious security environment in the Asia-Pacific region.

U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and his Chinese counterpart, National Defense Adm. Dong Jun, engaged in a 75-minute dialogue addressing a broad range of issues including Taiwan, the South China Sea, and China's relationship with Russia. The interaction follows a prolonged period of deteriorating military communications, during which China has strengthened its ties with Russia and intensified military drills around Taiwan.

During the meeting, Austin voiced concerns about China's maneuvers near the Taiwan Strait and its alleged support for Russia's defense sector amidst the ongoing Ukraine conflict. He also emphasized the U.S.'s commitment to operating within international law and maintaining peace and stability in the Strait, reinforcing America's long-standing "One China" policy.

In response, Dong stressed the need for mutual respect and stability in military-to-military relations. Additionally, he cautioned against actions that might threaten regional security and criticized U.S. and allied military activities in the region.

But despite some disagreements, both sides also agreed to establish a crisis-communications working group by the end of the year. This initiative is intended to create a direct line of communication to manage and de-escalate potential military crises, reflecting a cautious optimism that sustained dialogue can mitigate the risks of inadvertent conflicts.

For more on international relations, catch up on our latest Focus content with topics covering the U.S. tariffs on Chinese goods, China-Russia relations, and Xi Jinping's EU trip.

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About Focus This Week

Prepared by China-US Focus editorial teams in Hong Kong and New York, this weekly newsletter offers you snap shots of latest trends and developments emerging from China and the U.S. every week. It is a community space to exchange thoughts and ideas about the China-U.S. relationship and beyond.

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