Home General US And China Hold First Informal Nuclear Talks In Five Years

US And China Hold First Informal Nuclear Talks In Five Years

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FILE PHOTO: U.S. and Chinese flags are seen in this illustration taken REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/Illustration/File Photo

The US and China resumed semi-official nuclear arms talks in March for the first time in five years. Beijing’s representatives told their US counterparts they would not resort to atomic threats over Taiwan.

The Chinese representatives offered reassurances after their US interlocutors raised concerns that China might use nuclear weapons if it faced defeat in a conflict over Taiwan. Beijing views Taiwan as its territory.

David Santoro, the US organiser of the Track II talks, explained what the Chinese side had to say. “They told the US side that they were absolutely convinced that they are able to prevail in a conventional fight over Taiwan without using nuclear weapons.”

About half a dozen delegates represented Washington. The two-day discussions took place in a Shanghai hotel conference room. Beijing sent a delegation of scholars and analysts, which included several former People’s Liberation Army officers.

A State Department spokesperson said in response to Reuters’ questions that Track II talks could be “beneficial.”  He added that such discussions cannot replace formal negotiations.

Participants needed to speak authoritatively on issues that are often highly compartmentalized within (Chinese) government circles.

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Members of the Chinese delegation and Beijing’s defence ministry did not comment.

The two countries briefly resumed Track I talks over nuclear arms in November, but those negotiations have since stalled. The Pentagon said that China would consider nuclear use if a conventional military defeat in Taiwan threatened CCP rule.

The Track II talks are part of a two-decade nuclear weapons and posture dialogue. They stalled after the Trump administration pulled funding in 2019.

Santoro described “frustrations” on both sides during the latest discussions. But he said the two delegations saw reason to continue talking.

With inputs from Reuters