A Pentagon representative said on Tuesday that the leading defense officers from the US and China have not spoken since November, which is indicative of the current tensions between the two leading militaries of the world caused by the issues of Taiwan and a supposed espionage balloon.

At an Association of Southeast Asian Nations meeting in Cambodia, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin conversed with Chinese General Wei Fenghe on Nov. 22, as reported by the Defense Department’s spokesperson, Brigadier General Pat Ryder.

Last week, President Joe Biden also spoke with ABC News and said how crucial it was for the two major nations in the world to converse and handle any matters efficiently so that errors are not made.

Ryder said the Pentagon usually communicates with the People’s Republic of China on various levels. However, the Biden administration has expressed concern that the Chinese government did not accept a call from the Pentagon regarding a balloon incident.

An acknowledgment of the tension between the US and China has been made, due to recent conflicts, such as the balloon incident, Taiwan, and other issues. For example, in February, China refused the US’s request to schedule a call between US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin and China’s Defense Minister Wei Fenghe to discuss the balloon episode.

“Lines between our militaries are particularly important in moments like this,” Ryder said.

Meanwhile, at the Munich Security Conference, Secretary of State Antony Blinken took the opportunity to confront Wang Yi–the leader of China’s Communist Party in terms of foreign policy–regarding a Chinese spy balloon that has been causing elevated tensions between the two largest economies.

“The lack of communication between Austin and Wei follows a freeze in other high-level contacts,” according to Bloomberg.

Antony Blinken
United States Deputy Secretary of State, Antony Blinken in Abuja, Nigeria (Source: U.S. Embassy Nigeria/Flickr)

Following this, Secretary of State Antony Blinken called off his trip to Beijing after the administration revealed they were monitoring the situation. The gathering with China’s top diplomat, Wang Yi, only added to the increasing tensions, with Beijing asserting that the US was looking to start a new Cold War and the US cautioning China against backing Russia’s incursion into Ukraine.

The US military budget for 2023 is $773 billion, while China’s is projected to be $229 billion. This makes the US the largest military spender by far. However, there have been some tensions between the two countries recently.

House Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi visited Taiwan, which led to many military contacts being suspended. However, in November, Biden and Chinese President Xi Jinping agreed to restart much of that communication when they met in Bali, Indonesia. But, unfortunately, the recent uproar over the balloon incident has again frozen those efforts.

The US and China have had some Progressive foreign policies over the past ten years. However, with the current events involving Taiwan, it is unclear how long that will continue. Only time will tell what the future holds for US-China relations.