Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin shook hands with his Chinese counterpart, Li Shangfu, at a dinner in Singapore Friday, underscoring the U.S.’s effort to maintain relations with China amidst growing tension between the two superpowers.
“The two leaders shook hands but did not have a substantive exchange,” said Pentagon Press Secretary Brig. Gen. Patrick Ryder in a statement. He emphasized U.S. efforts to maintain “open lines of military-to-military communication” with China.
The two were not expected to meet at all during the annual defense and security forum that brought Austin to Singapore, after China rejected a U.S. invitation for a meeting.
The surprise exchange comes as the U.S. has begun repairing a relationship that grew acrimonious after a Chinese spy balloon was spotted earlier this year in U.S. air space. Secretary of State Antony Blinken canceled a planned trip to China in the aftermath, but last month announced plans to reschedule his travel. The handshake also comes days after high-level trade discussions between the U.S. and China.
Lawmakers have also increasingly pointed to China as a threat to national security and pushed for more domestic manufacturing capabilities, such as for computer chips, to compete with China on renewable energy and other issues.
The post Defense Sec. Austin, Chinese military leader shake hands appeared first on Politico.