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Chinese, US Military Chiefs Hold Crisis Communication amid Heightened Tensions in South China Sea

Chinese and U.S. flags flutter near The Bund, before U.S. trade delegation meet their Chinese counterparts for talks in Shanghai, China July 30, 2019. REUTERS/Aly Song/Files

Chinese and U.S. flags flutter near The Bund, before U.S. trade delegation meet their Chinese counterparts for talks in Shanghai, China July 30, 2019. REUTERS/Aly Song/Files

The exchange, days ahead of the US elections, came as US Defence Secretary Mark Esper toured Asia with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo where they had urged countries to cooperate with the United States to confront the security threats posed by China, a position China has criticised as a Cold War mentality and zero-sum mindset.

Chinese and US military chiefs held talks on crisis communication this week, amid heightened tensions between the two military superpowers this year in the South China Sea, with the United States denying a report on a possible drone attack.

The exchange, days ahead of the US elections, came as US Defence Secretary Mark Esper toured Asia with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo where they had urged countries to cooperate with the United States to confront the security threats posed by China, a position China has criticised as a Cold War mentality and zero-sum mindset.

Chinese and US militaries held a video conference meeting about crisis communication on Oct. 28-29, Chinese defence ministry spokesman Wu Qian said on Thursday.

According to Wu, Esper denied a media report about the United States studying a plan to attack Chinese islands and reefs in the South China Sea using an MQ-9 drone in the event that the US presidential election was not looking favourable for President Donald Trump.

Esper said the United States "has no intention of creating a military crisis with the Chinese," according to Wu.

"We urge the US to walk the talk, keep its promise, and take measures to prevent provoking China military in the air and sea," Wu said, adding that China will resolutely counter-strike if provoked with an attack at sea.

Both militaries will exchange views via video conferencing on humanitarian aid in mid-November and on maritime security before the end of the year, Wu said.