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Indo-Pacific

China wants to control Indo-Pacific, Defense Secretary Austin says

Congress concerned over lack of hotline to avoid unintended escalation

A sailor assigned to Explosive Ordnance Disposal Task Force 70 fast-ropes from an MH-60S Sea Hawk helicopter aboard the Ticonderoga-class guided-missile cruiser USS Shiloh in the Philippine Sea. (Photo courtesy of the U.S. Navy)

NEW YORK -- China is set on controlling the Indo-Pacific, and without a direct line of communication between leaders in Washington and Beijing, a small incident can spark a crisis, U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin told lawmakers Thursday.

Austin described the lack of a hotline -- popularly called a red phone -- as a "critical" issue.

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