Hello and welcome to Semafor Security, where we dive into the forces and personalities defending, defining, and destabilizing the world.
The last few weeks we’ve seen the U.S. and China engage in a global — and delicate — diplomatic dance. U.S. National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan met China’s foreign affairs czar, Wang Yi, in Vienna on May 10-11. A senior State Department official held high-level talks in Beijing this week. And CIA director Bill Burns also reportedly made a secret trip recently.
But on core military issues, China doesn’t seem interested in engagement. In fact, the People’s Liberation Army appears completely out of reach. The PLA rejected U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin’s offer to meet his Chinese counterpart, Li Shangfu, in Singapore last weekend. And as I detail for the first time this morning, China has resolutely spurned NSA Sullivan’s overture from last Friday to engage in “unconditional” arms control talks with the U.S.
This all points to a seriously dangerous trend in U.S.-China relations in which superficial visits and photo ops take place. But the consequential and dangerous issues — including nuclear proliferation, China’s role in the fentanyl trade, and security in the South China Sea — go unaddressed. And the world is becoming increasingly more unstable as a result.
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