The White House cited maintaining US-China military communications as a priority ahead of this week’s meeting between President Joe Biden and Xi Jinping.
“The Chinese have cut the communication links,” US National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan said on CNN’s State of the Union. “President Biden wants to re-establish them.
China suspended defense communications last year to protest House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan. Military ties were further complicated when Beijing in March appointed a US-backed general as defense minister, and cited lifting the measures as a condition for talks with Pentagon chief Lloyd Austin.
The sudden firing of Li Shangfu last month, however, cleared the way for Beijing to appoint a non-sanctioned minister, potentially clearing a roadblock to high-level talks. China has yet to name Li’s successor.
Lower-level military ties have been strained in recent months. Admiral John Aquilino, who heads the US Indo-Pacific Command, met with General Xu Qiling, deputy joint chief of staff of the People’s Liberation Army, in Fiji last August.
Sullivan said a military hotline should also be restored between top defense officials “down to the tactical, operational level.”
Iran is on the agenda for the Biden-Xi meeting on Wednesday during the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit in San Francisco – their first face-to-face meeting in a year and Xi’s first trip to the US in six years.
The US is seeking to tighten sanctions against Iran, which is a key source of oil for China, because Tehran supports groups such as Hamas, which carried out the October 7 attack on Israel. The US and Europe classify Hamas as a terrorist group.