China has rejected a proposal from the United States of America for its Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin to meet with his Chinese counterpart Li Shangfu at the Shangri-La Dialogue Security Forum in Singapore this week. There is a strained relationship between the two countries following former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s trip to the self-governing island of Taiwan last August and the US decision to shoot down a Chinese spy balloon that transited over sensitive US military sites in February. According to a statement., the Pentagon said China had declined an invitation extended in early May for a meeting, but said the refusal would not deter the US from seeking better lines of communication. Meanwhile, China’s Defense Ministry on Wednesday said the country attaches importance to developing US-China military relations but blamed Washington for hampering communication. The US has imposed a range of sanctions on China in recent years for a variety of reasons including alleged human rights abuses in Xinjiang and restrictions on political freedoms in Hong Kong.

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