US, China Resume Top-Level Military Dialogue

    Photo: Wikimedia Commons

    The Facts

    • Following a recent agreement between Pres. Joe Biden and his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping to resume military-to-military ties, the US and the PRC's top military officials held talks on Thursday for the first time in over a year.

    • During their virtual meeting, Joint Chiefs Chairman Charles Q. Brown and General Liu Zhenli of China's People's Liberation Army reportedly discussed the need for cooperation to "responsibly manage competition, avoid miscalculations, and maintain open and direct lines of communication."

    The Spin

    Pro-establishment narrative

    By resuming high-level military talks with China, the US is yet again demonstrating its goodwill to bring relations with Beijing back on track. However, given recent threats to the US military in the Indo-Pacific and Beijing's attempts to intimidate US allies like the Philippines — not to mention Taiwan — this can only be a first step. The US and the PRC are competitors, but Washington is convinced that dialog constitutes the basis for peace and international security. It's now up to China to prove that it's serious about reducing bilateral tensions and engaging in constructive dialog.

    Establishment-critical narrative

    China welcomes the resumption of military high-level talks between the two nations and is willing to engage in a constructive dialog with the US based on mutual respect. However, Washington can't assert hegemonic claims while pretending to be interested in reducing bilateral tensions. As long as the US isn't prepared to respect China's territorial sovereignty over Taiwan and its maritime rights in the South China Sea, no constructive dialog will be possible. Washington can't have it both ways and must walk the talk to build healthy relations with China, contributing to international security.

    Nerd narrative

    There's a 15% chance that the US and China will be at war before 2035, according to the Metaculus prediction community.

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