Since the Chinese military build-up along the Sino-Indian border, tensions between China and the United States have been running high. At some point, it seemed like a full-blown confrontation was possible.
On Monday, the Chinese President Xi Jinping and the United States President Joe Biden discussed ways to attempt to ease the tensions during a telephone call. The two heads of state agreed to restore military ties, permitting better communication between their forces and allowing for a more productive dialogue.
The two countries have been on opposing sides for several years, disagreeing over issues such as Taiwan, the South China Sea, and the detention of Uyghur people by China. This latest move towards restoring ties could be seen as a step toward attempting to calm down disagreements.
The United States Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin also hinted at a thawing of tensions between the two powers when he said in a statement that the Department of Defense “welcomed the opportunity to improve our communication and contacts.”
While this agreement won’t magically solve all the problems between China and the United States, it is a sign that both powers are trying to move in a more productive direction. Reestablishing quality communication between the two countries is key to preventing further escalation.
The Biden administration has said that it has no intention of avoiding conflict with China, but rather of finding areas of common ground and attempting to resolve differences through dialogue and negotiation. This first attempt at restoring military ties is a promising start in bringing the two powers closer together.
Admittedly, much work still needs to be done, and it will take time before the effects of the improved military ties are truly visible. However, the willingness of both Washington and Beijing to sit down and talk bodes well for the future of East Asian relations.