Defense chiefs of US, China to meet during security conference in Singapore

The US Defense Department says Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin is planning to meet with his Chinese counterpart, Dong Jun, during a major security conference in Singapore.

The Pentagon said in a statement on Friday that the meeting is slated to take place on the sidelines of the Shangri-La Dialogue, which will start on May 31.

It will be the first in-person meeting between US and Chinese defense chiefs since November 2022. Austin and Dong held a video call last month.

The move comes as US President Joe Biden and Chinese President Xi Jinping agreed to resume dialogue between the two countries' top defense officials during their summit last November.

Austin and Dong are expected to discuss Taiwan and the South China Sea during their meeting. Beijing is stepping up pressure on Taiwan through military drills in areas surrounding Taiwan, and is continuing its assertive behavior in the South China Sea, including firing water cannons at Philippine vessels.

The Pentagon also said Austin is slated to participate in a trilateral meeting with his Japanese and South Korean counterparts, Kihara Minoru and Shin Won-sik.

The Defense Department stressed that it will continue to strengthen US relationships with allies and partners in support of a shared regional vision for peace, stability and deterrence.