China postpones military exchanges with US
Washington, Feb 24: Irked by US proposed $6.4 billion arms package for Taiwan, China has postponed its several military exchanges with US, US officials said on Tuesday, Feb 24.
In attempt to bring down the tension, Pentagon has said that Beijing's response to the arm sale has been limited in scope, while US defense secretary Robert Gates said he will go ahead with the plan to visit China later this year.
Commenting on China's reaction to the arm sale to Taiwan, US official said that China has made its displeasure known by postponing its chief of general staff's and one of its top regional military commanders' planned visit to US.
"There are other, as yet unscheduled, events the PRC (People's Republic of China) is not considering for the time being," a Pentagon official said.
Citing that there has been no formal word from China, the official said that it was too early to make any speculation.
"The PRC (People's Republic of China) routinely uses our military to military relationship to express displeasure. Nevertheless, we are committed to maintaining a positive, cooperative and comprehensive relationship with China. Nothing has been formally canceled," the official added.
This move by Beijing came just as the indication to put an end to tension was showed by the two countries.
However, Pentagon officials and other observers in Washington said that statement by Chinese military expert quoted in a Hong Kong newspaper showed Beijing interest to downplay the tension.
One of China's earliest indication to curb tension was the decision to allow US aircraft carrier to berth in Hong Kong, a former British colony, currently a self-administered territory under Chinese control in Feb 2010.
Wang Xinjun, a researcher at the Chinese Academy of Military Sciences, a top institute of the People's Liberation Army made Beijing's intention clear by saying that the US aircraft was allowed in its territory was to put a lid to the tension.
"This move showed China has responded to the US provocations with reason and restraint," Wang told the Ta Kung Pao, a Chinese-language Hong Kong newspaper run by the mainland.
"Although China-US military ties are experiencing difficulties, and a breakthrough seems hard to find, we have reason to have confidence in the future of those ties," Wang said in an interview with the paper published on Wednesday.
But the positive signs of curbing tension hit a roadblock after US president Barack Obama met the Dalai Lama, exiled Tibetan spiritual leader at White House, despite China's vehement protest.
Asked to comment on China's next step to limit military relationship, Pentagon spokesman Bryan Whitman said they have not seen any major indication.
"We haven't noticed anything significant," he said.