Pentagon Chief Looking to Visit China This Year Amid Tensions

WASHINGTON (Reuters) -
U.S. Defense Secretary Mark Esper (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik/File)

Defense Secretary Mark Esper said on Tuesday he hoped to visit China by the end of the year to discuss areas of mutual interest, even as he condemned Chinese maritime activity in the South China Sea.

“Before the year is out, I hope to visit the PRC for the first time as secretary in order to enhance cooperation on areas of common interest, establish the systems necessary for crisis communications and reinforce our intentions to openly compete in the international system,” Esper said, using an acronym for the People’s Republic of China.

Esper also said that he had not given any orders to withdraw U.S. troops from South Korea, but the Pentagon was looking at forces around the world.