TOKYO — President Biden’s top military adviser has told China that the United States is open to resuming military-to-military communication that Beijing suspended last year to protest then-House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan.
The chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen. Charles Q. Brown Jr., told reporters on Friday that re-establishing the military dialogue between two of the world’s most powerful militaries was a goal of the Biden administration, and that he had sent a letter to his Chinese counterpart, Gen. Liu Zhenli, “to say that I would like to do that.”
“We’ll see how it comes together,” General Brown said. “I’m hopeful.”
The letter comes ahead of a likely meeting between President Biden and China’s top leader, Xi Jinping, on the sidelines of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit next week. U.S. officials are hoping the two leaders will announce a resumption of military dialogue there.
General Brown, who is traveling in the region this week, said that the reopening of the communications channel was important to prevent misunderstandings that could cascade into crises. “Just to ensure that there’s no miscalculation in that dialogue, to me, is hugely important,” he said during a briefing with reporters.
A Pentagon report last month said that China was continuing to build up its strategic nuclear arsenal and has most likely amassed 500 nuclear warheads as of May, an increase of about 100 over last year’s estimate.
The report accused China’s military of taking increasingly dangerous actions to deter U.S. forces in the Asia-Pacific region, including what the U.S. Indo-Pacific Command called “coercive and risky” maneuvers in the skies above the South China Sea meant to intimidate American military aircraft.
The Chinese military is in the midst of a political shake-up: The defense minister, Gen. Li Shangfu, was dismissed last month in the latest purge in Beijing’s national security ranks. There has been speculation among military analysts that General Brown’s counterpart, General Liu, could become the country’s next defense minister.