China-US relations

United States called off top security talks, China says

Annual meeting set down for this month postponed as trade war rages and navies have near miss in South China Sea

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 03 October, 2018, 12:08am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 03 October, 2018, 12:23am

A high-level security dialogue between China and the United States was postponed at the request of Washington, Beijing said on Tuesday as bilateral tensions rise on various fronts, from trade to the military.

The annual diplomatic and security dialogue, which was to include US Defence Secretary James Mattis and China’s Defence Minister Wei Fenghe, was scheduled “in principle” for mid-October, Chinese foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said on a statement on the ministry’s website.

“The US side recently expressed its wishes to postpone the dialogue,” Hua said, adding the two sides would continue to “maintain communication” over the talks.

China calls off security talks with US Defence Secretary James Mattis as tensions escalate

The statement came after media reports suggested that China had cancelled the annual meeting.

The New York Times quoted an unnamed American official as saying that China told the administration of US President Donald Trump on Friday that a senior military official would not be meeting Mattis.

Relations between Beijing and Washington have dropped to new lows as the trade war has escalated.

The two powers have also become increasingly confrontational on the military front, particularly in the disputed South China Sea.

On Sunday, a Chinese destroyer nearly collided with USS Decatur in the waters after making what the Americans described as an “unsafe and unprofessional” manoeuvre meant to warn the US vessel, which was sailing close to Gaven Reefs, to leave the area.

America accuses Chinese warship of ‘unsafe’ manoeuvres after near collision with USS Decatur in South China Sea

The US Navy said the Chinese destroyer moved within 41 metres (135 feet) of the US warship and the two nearly collided.

Separately, the Trump administration has imposed sanctions on the Chinese People’s Liberation Army’s Equipment Development Department for buying weapons from Russia.

Washington also irked Beijing late last month with the approval of a US$300 million arms sale to Taiwan, a self-governing island that Beijing sees as a breakaway province.