Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, a 2022 Wash100 Award winner, said the U.S. is working to keep communication lines open with China’s defense officials and launching other efforts to build up “guardrails against conflict” with the Asian country, The Wall Street Journal reported Saturday.
“We do not seek a new Cold War, an Asian NATO, or a region split into hostile blocs,” Gen. Austin said Saturday at a defense conference in Singapore.
“We will defend our interests without flinching, but we’ll also work toward our vision for this region—one of expanding security, one of increased cooperation, and not one of growing division,” he added.
His remarks come amid provocative activities by Chinese ships and aircraft in the Indo-Pacific region, which is considered by the U.S. as a priority theatre of operations.
“We’re meeting today at a moment of great consequence for the whole world and not just for Europe,” Austin said. “And I’m here because the rules-based international order matters just as much in the Indo-Pacific as it does in Europe,” he noted.