US-China military talks aim to ease tensions with Covid-19 prevention focus

US-China military talks aim to ease tensions with Covid-19 prevention focus

China and US armed forces kicked off three days of discussion on control of the coronavirus pandemic, humanitarian aid and disaster prevention on Wednesday, in a rare glimpse of cooperation amid rising tensions between the world’s two biggest military powers.

According to a short statement from the Chinese defence ministry, discussions will include Covid-19 prevention and control, a cooperative response to floods and typhoons, and civil-military cooperation. Meetings will be held via video conference, with the Chinese side in Nanjing, capital of the eastern province of Jiangsu, and the US team in Hawaii.

Diplomatic observers said the talks – the 16th regular exchange between the two militaries – could help reduce the risk of a major conflict between the two nations after a series of post-election personnel changes at the Pentagon.US President Donald Trump, who continues to contest the result of last week’s presidential election, removed defence secretary Mark Esper on Monday and three other senior Pentagon officials resigned on Tuesday. The shake-up raised concerns that the outgoing president was considering tough action against China before his departure in January, with the possibility that conflicts could escalate before president-elect Joe Biden’s inauguration.