U.S. Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin stressed the importance of communication during a stopover Thursday in Tokyo, calling it unfortunate that his Chinese counterpart is refusing to meet him at an upcoming annual security conference in Singapore, which both men are attending.
On the way to the annual Shangri-La Dialogue Asian security summit this weekend, Austin held talks with Japanese Defense Minister Yasukazu Hamada. Noting China’s increasingly assertive military actions in international airspace and waterways in the region, he told a joint news conference in Tokyo, “The provocative intercepts of our aircraft and also our allies’ aircraft, that’s very concerning, and we would hope that they would alter their action.
[ Editor’s Note: This is a terrible time to have a complete breakdown in crisis communications. Things can escalate quickly, particularly with the increasingly adversarial relationship. ]