China-US relations

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

Cancellation comes amid trade war and disagreements over issues such as arms sales and South China Sea

PUBLISHED : Monday, 01 October, 2018, 10:40am
UPDATED : Monday, 01 October, 2018, 10:43pm

China has cancelled a security meeting with US Secretary of Defence James Mattis that had been planned for this month, a senior US official said on Sunday, days after a top Chinese official said there was no reason to panic over tensions between the countries.

The official, who is involved in China policy and spoke to Reuters on condition of anonymity, said it was not clear if or when the meeting would be rescheduled.

The cancellation was first reported by The New York Times.

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The official said it was also not clear whether the cancellation was because of the broad range of disputes between Beijing and Washington on issues such as arms sales and military activity in the South China Sea and other waters around China.

China and the United States are also locked in a spiralling trade war that has seen them level increasingly severe rounds of tariffs on each other’s imports.

“The tension is escalating, and that could prove to be dangerous to both sides,” the official said.

The US State Department declined to comment. Officials at the White House and Department of Defence did not immediately respond to a request for comment. China’s foreign and defence ministries also did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Sources in Beijing briefed on the matter said last week that the security meeting might not take place because of the tensions in relations between the two countries.

China’s top diplomat calls US accusations ‘serious strategic misjudgment

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said on Friday there was “no cause for panic” over friction between Beijing and Washington, but warned that China would not be blackmailed or yield to pressure over trade.

At a UN Security Council meeting on Wednesday, President Donald Trump accused Beijing of seeking to meddle in the November 6 US congressional elections to stop him and his Republican Party from doing well because of his China trade policies.

Trump provided no evidence for his allegation. At the same meeting, Wang rejected the charge.