Top Pentagon officials have once again said that China is ignoring and rebuffing the US military's attempts to establish and open line of communication, which is crucial to avoiding inadvertent conflict in regions such as in the South China Sea where both naval powers operate.
"Open communication channels between the US and China are important in maintaining peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait, US Assistant Secretary of Defense for Indo-Pacific Affairs Ely Ratner said on Thursday," regional media reports.
"The Pentagon’s attempts to reach out to China’s military in recent months have been ignored or rebuffed," Ratner told an audience at the DC-based Center for Strategic and International Studies.
He sought to stress that the Pentagon "believes in the importance of open lines of communication with the PRC [People’s Republic of China] and we have sought to build out those open lines of communication. Unfortunately... we've had a lot of difficulty when we have proposed phone calls, meetings, dialogues."
"The US and Department of Defense have had an outstretched hand on this question of military to military engagement, but we have yet to have consistently willing partners," Ratner emphasized further.
Earlier this month there was hope that US-China dialogue would be back on track following the meeting between National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan and Chinese Communist Party Politburo Member and China's Director of the Office of the Foreign Affairs Commission Wang Yi in Vienna on May 10-11.
That meeting was generally reported and regarded as positive, given that before that all such high level diplomatic contacts had been off ever since the 'spy balloon' shootdown incident over the American east coast in early February.
But even if the rival militaries are struggling to keep open communications, Washington and Beijing are pushing forward with trade talks:
U.S. Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo sat down with her Chinese counterpart Wang Wentao in Washington D.C. on Thursday to discuss “concerns” surrounding bilateral trade.
Marking the first cabinet-level exchange between the two countries in months, the U.S. talked about American companies operating in China.
According to a readout by the Commerce Department, “The two had candid and substantive discussions on issues relating to the U.S.-China commercial relationship, including the overall environment in both countries for trade and investment and areas for potential cooperation.”
Raimondo further "raised concerns about the recent spate of PRC [People’s Republic of China] actions taken against U.S. companies operating in the PRC," the statement indicated.
Looming large in the background is the Biden administration's continuing policy of "arming Taiwan to the teeth" - even if the process of seeing specific weapons deals through has slowed based on bureaucratic red tape, according to complaints from Congress members.