TAIPEI (Taiwan News) – Beijing has abruptly canceled a high-level security meeting with a U.S. Department of Defense official scheduled for October.
U.S. Secretary of Defense James Mattis was planning to visit Beijing in mid-October to meet with top officials from the People’s Liberation Army (PLA). The Chinese government on Sept. 30 released a statement that no senior officials would be available to meet with Mattis.
The sudden cancellation has some observers worried that it may be an indication of increased tensions, and a signal that Beijing sees discussion with the U.S. as unnecessary.
The fact that it is a meeting intended to discuss military matters and regional stability is somewhat concerning.
On Friday Sept. 28 in Shenyang, China, Chairman Xi Jinping reviewed PLA troops ahead of China’s National Day on Oct. 1. He stressed the need for combat readiness, and ideological purity in a new age of warfare that will demand much from the PLA forces, reports the Economic Times.
The cancellation of the security talks comes a week after President Trump claimed before the United Nations Security Council that Beijing was attempting to interfere with the mid-term elections that will be held in November in the United States.
Also on Sunday, Sept. 30, the U.S. Ambassador to China Terry Branstad published an opinion in the Iowa newspaper, the Des Moines Register, highlighting China’s attempts to meddle in American politics using paid political ads, reports Reuters.
The Ambassador seemed to agree with Trump’s recent comments in his op-ed writing that China “is now doubling down on … bullying by running propaganda ads in (the U.S.’s) own free press.”
“In disseminating its propaganda, China’s government is availing itself of America’s cherished tradition of free speech and a free press by placing a paid advertisement in the Des Moines Register,” he wrote.
Beijing's notice of the cancellation also came shortly after the U.S. Navy sailed destroyer USS Decatur close to the disputed Spratly Islands in the South China Sea on Sept. 30 in a freedom of navigation operation.
As the tension around trade and the South China Sea continues to escalate between Washington and Beijing, an unwillingness to engage in security dialogues with the leadership in Washington may simply be Beijing’s way of protesting what it considers unfair treatment which has hurt the feelings of the Chinese people.
Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi, in his statements to the United Nations General Assembly, said that there “was no cause for panic” because of disagreements between the U.S. and China. However, he also emphasized China’s current refusal to yield to the demands of the Trump Administration on trade, reports Reuters.
Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi (Associated Press Image)