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US Warms to Defense Talks With China, Dropping Protocol Dispute

  • Austin-Wei meeting would take place at Singapore defense forum
  • US had sought call with higher-ranking Chinese official
US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin

US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin

Photographer: Amanda Andrade-Rhoades/The Washington Post/Bloomberg

Updated on

Aides to the US defense secretary and China’s defense minister are discussing a potential meeting in Singapore, according to people familiar with the preparations, a sign the Biden administration is more focused on keeping both sides talking rather than worrying that the two leaders are far apart in relative rank. 

If negotiations are successful, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin could meet Defense Minister Wei Fenghe on the sidelines of the Shangri-La Dialogue taking place June 10-12. While Austin spoke by phone with Wei in April, US officials had hoped he would be able to hold a call with General Xu Qiliang, vice chairman of the Communist Party’s powerful Central Military Commission.