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    HomeWorld'It Just Rang': In Crises, US-China Hotline Goes Unanswered

    ‘It Just Rang’: In Crises, US-China Hotline Goes Unanswered

    ‘It Just Rang’: In Crises, US-China Hotline Goes Unanswered

    — Within hours of an Force F-22 downing a giant Chinese balloon that had crossed the United States, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin reached out to his Chinese counterpart via a special crisis line, aiming for a quick general-to-general talk that could explain things and ease tensions.

    But Austin's effort Saturday fell flat, when Chinese Defense Minister Wei Fenghe declined to get on the line, the Pentagon says.

    China's Defense Ministry says it refused the call from Austin after the balloon was shot down because the U.S. had “not created the proper atmosphere” for dialogue and exchange. The U.S. action had “seriously violated international norms and set a pernicious precedent,” a ministry spokesperson was quoted as saying in a statement issued late Thursday.

    It's been an experience that's frustrated U.S. commanders for decades, when it comes to getting their Chinese counterparts on a phone or video line as some flaring crisis is sending tensions between the two climbing.

    From Americans' perspective, the lack of the kind of reliable crisis communications that helped get the U.S. and Soviet Union through the Cold War without an armed nuclear exchange is raising the dangers of the U.S.-China relationship now, at a time when China's strength is growing and tensions with the U.S. are on the rise.

    Without that ability for generals in opposing capitals to clear things up in a…

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