U.S. Seeks to Improve Military Ties with China Amid Growing Trade Tensions

As trade tensions between the United States and China appear unlikely to be eased any time soon, top U.S. defense officials sought Friday to strengthen military ties with the Asian nation.

Acting U.S. Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan met in Singapore with his Chinese counterpart Wei Fenghe, where the two held “a constructive and productive” 20-minute meeting, said Pentagon spokesman Joe Buccino.

The two men talked about ways to improve cooperation between their countries’ militaries in order to enforce UN Security Council Resolutions related to North Korea, the spokesman added, according to Bloomberg.  

“The things that we’ll talk about are finding areas for cooperation,” Shanahan told reporters prior to the meeting. “That’s how you create upside in the relationship. What we want to avoid are misunderstandings and miscalculation.”

The defense secretary is currently visiting Asia as part of his eight-day trip to the continent and is in Singapore to attend the annual Shangri-La Dialogue, a key defense forum attended by numerous top officials from around the globe.

Both Shanahan and Fenghe are scheduled to deliver keynote addresses that Bloomberg adds will almost certainly be strikingly opposing.

Before his meeting with the Chinese defense minister, Shanahan said earlier this week that trade talks would not “spill over into” military discussions, maintaining that the two will remain separate.

“Trade runs a separate track, and we’ll solve that. It is too important not to solve,” Shanahan told reporters en route to Asia. “I don’t believe [it will] spill over into our dialogue and discussion on defense.”

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