Reported communications breakdown comes amid large-scale military exercises around Taiwan
As China continues its rapid military drills around Taiwan in retaliation for US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s provocative visit to the island this week, senior Chinese military officials are refusing to heed calls from their Pentagon counterparts, according to Politico.
Beijing has reportedly rejected several appeals from Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Mark Milley in recent days, according to “three people aware of the attempts.” Milley’s last confirmed contact with China’s Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen. Li Zuocheng, was on July 7, while Austin met in person with China’s Defense Minister, Gen. Wei Fenghe, in June.
On Friday, Beijing decided to cut diplomatic relations with Washington in a number of military and civilian areas. China’s Foreign Ministry has released a list of issues on which there will be no further communication between Chinese and US officials, including military contacts at the theater commander level and broader discussions on the coordination of the defense policy.
China also suspended consultations on maritime security, cooperation on the repatriation of illegal migrants, legal assistance in criminal matters, the fight against transnational crime and drug trafficking, as well as discussions on climate change, she said in a statement.
Without commenting on the reported breakdown in high-level military communications, the White House said China’s recent moves are increasing the “risk of miscalculation and misperception”, although National Security Council spokesman John Kirby insisted “does not completely eliminate opportunities for senior members of our military to speak.”
“You have so much military hardware operating in confined areas, it’s good, especially now, to have those lines of communication open,” Kirby said Friday.
Beijing launched “unprecedented” military drills and live-fire drills in six sea areas around Taiwan on Thursday in response to Nancy Pelosi’s brief visit. The exercises include the simulation of a “blockade” of the island, as well as amphibious assaults and ground target strikes, according to the Chinese Ministry of Defense.
Taiwan claims major encroachment by China
China regards Taiwan as an inalienable part of its territory and views visits such as Pelosi’s as an assault on its sovereignty and a violation of the “one China” principle, under which most countries refrain from diplomatically recognize Taiwan. Although it officially recognizes Beijing as the only legitimate authority in China since 1979, the United States maintains strong unofficial ties with the island of 23.5 million people, frequently selling arms to Taipei and supporting its desire to sovereignty.