Even as US-China relations are at the lowest ebb in the recent history, the latest reports suggest that Beijing has turned down Pentagon's repeated to hold military-level talks.
President Joe Biden's Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin has tried to set up talks with the top level Chinese military leaders but has not seen success so far, Reuters has reported, citing defense officials.
Austin made multiple attempts to set up talks with China's top general, the report adds. "The military relationship is strained, no question about that. It's hard to know how much this is reflective of that strain as much as it is just Chinese intransigence," a US defense official told the agency.
"But we certainly want to have a dialogue. We just want to make sure we have a dialogue at the proper level," the official added. The Chinese embassy in Washington did not make any comments.
There is also confusion about who Austin should meet, as the Chinese defense establishment has a complex structure. Austin was scheduled to meet China's Defense Minister Wei Fenghe later this month, but the event has been cancelled.
Reuters adds that Austin might perhaps want to meet the vice chairman of China's Central Military Commission, Xu Qiliang, who is seen as having immense clout with President Xi Jinping.
China and the US are loggerheads with each other on a host of issues including Taiwan's independent status, Hong Kong democracy, Uighur suppression, state-sponsored cybercrime activities, human rights violations, crackdown on tech companies and even the semiconductor shortage.
The presidency of Donald Trump was marked by a worsening of ties between the world's largest two democracies, but the arrival of Biden at the White House has not significantly eased tensions. The Biden team has so far not been able to hold high level talks with China.