October 7, 2008 in Nation/World

China cancels military contacts with U.S.

Associated Press

WASHINGTON – China has abruptly canceled a series of military and diplomatic contacts with the United States to protest a planned $6.5 billion package of U.S. arms sales to Taiwan, U.S. officials said Monday.

Beijing has notified the U.S. that it will not go forward with several senior level visits and other cooperative military-to-military plans because of the sale, which was announced last week, Pentagon and State Department officials said.

“In response to Friday’s announcement of Taiwan arms sales, the People’s Republic of China canceled or postponed several upcoming military-to-military exchanges,” said Marine Corps Maj. Stewart Upton, a Defense Department spokesman, lamenting that “China’s continued politicization of our military relationship results in missed opportunities.”

The Chinese action will not stop the country’s participation with the United States in international efforts over Iran’s and North Korea’s nuclear programs, U.S. officials said.

But it does cancel an upcoming U.S. visit by a senior Chinese general and port calls by naval vessels and indefinitely postpones meetings on stopping the spread of weapons of mass destruction, the officials said.

China will also not participate in an exchange with the United States on humanitarian assistance and disaster relief that was to take place before the end of November, they said.

Beijing is furious with the U.S. decision to sell Taiwan the huge package of advanced weaponry. China, which regards Taiwan as a renegade province, says the sale interferes with internal Chinese affairs and harms its national security.

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