Home World US to participate in Beijing defense forum, indicating improved relations, according to Reuters.

US to participate in Beijing defense forum, indicating improved relations, according to Reuters.

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US to participate in Beijing defense forum, indicating improved relations, according to Reuters.

US Accepts Invitation to Attend China’s Security Forum

Improved Ties Between US and China

The United States has announced that it will be attending China’s top annual security forum in late October, signaling potential warming ties between the two countries’ militaries. This move comes as Washington seeks to revive military-to-military communications with China, its main strategic rival. Beijing has extended an invitation to Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin to attend the Xiangshan forum, scheduled for October 29-31.

No Attendance from the US Defense Secretary

However, the United States has decided not to send Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin to the event. The forum, styled by Beijing as its answer to Singapore’s annual Shangri-La Dialogue, had previously seen China’s defense minister Li Shangfu decline a formal meeting with the US defense secretary. It is worth noting that China’s invitation could be seen as an effort to counter US criticism of China’s slow rebuilding of military engagement after cutting most ties following a visit by US Speaker Nancy Pelosi to Taiwan in August 2022. Analysts suggest that this invitation may also indicate Beijing’s desire to improve relations with the United States.

Hope for Improved Military Communications

US officials have recently hinted at “limited” early signs of improved military communications between the two nations. The Pentagon has not disclosed who China has invited or who from the US side will attend the forum. The Xiangshan forum aims to address open and reliable lines of communication and crisis communications channels.

Previous US Participation and China’s Defense Minister

In 2019, the last time the forum was held, the most senior US official to participate was then-U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for China, Chad Sbragia. Before 2019, the US often sent embassy defense attaches. However, this year’s forum raises questions about how it will be conducted as China’s defense minister, Li Shangfu, who typically gives a keynote speech and meets with delegations, has been put under investigation for corrupt procurement of military equipment. Although China was aware that Defense Secretary Austin was unlikely to attend, the invitation demonstrates a significant desire to establish stable defense relations with the United States.

Equal Opportunity for Security Cooperation

The Chinese embassy in Washington has stated that the forum will provide an equal opportunity for all parties to express their views on advancing security cooperation. China and the United States have been maintaining candid and effective communications through military diplomatic channels.