Apr 20, 2022 - World

Defense Secretary Austin speaks with Chinese counterpart for first time

U.S. Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin testifying before Congress on April 5.

U.S. Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin testifies before Congress on April 5. Photo: Chen Mengtong/China News Service via Getty Images

U.S. Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin spoke to his Chinese counterpart for the first time on Wednesday, the Pentagon announced.

Why it matters: The Pentagon said it was a follow-up to a call between President Biden and Chinese President Xi Jinping last month.

  • Austin and China's Defense Minister Wei Fenghe discussed the U.S. and China's defense relationship, regional security issues and Russia's unprovoked invasion of Ukraine, the Defense Department said.
  • Biden warned Xi in their call that China would face "consequences" if it provided material support to Russia for its invasion.

The big picture: Austin and Fenghe's talk comes after Austin has tried and failed to speak with Gen. Xu Qiliang, the highest-ranking uniformed officer in China's military, according to AP, citing a senior defense official.

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