U.S. arms sale jeopardizes China-U.S. military exchanges

10:22, January 31, 2010      

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The move by the United States of selling arms to Taiwan brings chilly air to the warming China-U.S. relationship as well as military exchanges.

The U.S. government on Friday announced the plans to sell a package of arms to Taiwan, which include Patriot missiles, Black Hawk helicopters and minesweepers. China immediately expressed strong indignation about the sale after the U.S. government notified the U.S. Congress of the plans.

China slammed the U.S. move, pointing out it has violated the three Sino-US joint communiques, especially the principles established in the Joint Communique on Aug. 17, 1982, which stated that the U.S. would not seek to carry out a long-term policy of arms sales to Taiwan, and intended to gradually reduce arms sale.

According to a press release of the Foreign Ministry, China has decided to partially halt the exchange programs between the militaries of the two countries, as well as the vice-ministerial consultation on strategic security, arms control and anti-proliferation, which was originally scheduled to be held soon.

The two militaries had been expected to launch more exchanges in 2010, which include U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates' visit to China and mutual visits of warships.

Qian Lihua, director of the Defense Ministry's Foreign Affairs Office, on Saturday summoned the defense attache of the U.S. Embassy in Beijing to lodge a stern protest.

"We reserve the right of taking further actions," he noted.

The U.S. move cast a shadow over the military ties between China and the Untied States, which have seen a warming trend since U.S. President Barack Obama took office.

The two countries held the latest round of defense consultations in Beijing in June, which were suspended for 18 months after the then outgoing Bush administration announced a 6.5-billion-U.S.-dollar arms package for Taiwan.

At the first U.S.-China Strategic and Economic Dialogue held in Washington D.C. in July, the two countries agreed to expand military exchanges at various levels.

Vice Chairman of China's Central Military Commission (CMC) Xu Caihou visited the United States from Oct. 24 to Nov. 3, the first senior Chinese military leader to visit the country since Obama assumed the presidency.

These hard-won rising military exchanges resulted from consensus reached by the two heads of state on a sound and healthy development of bilateral ties, but at the same time they require cautiously handling of the sensitive issues like arms sale to Taiwan, the first and foremost obstacle of military ties.

When U.S. President Barack Obama visited Beijing in November, China and the United States issued a joint statement, pledging that the two countries would "take concrete steps" to advance "sustained and reliable" military-to-military relations.

"I am very pleased with the reduction of tensions and improvement of the cross-strait relations," said Obama during a dialogue with Chinese youth in Shanghai.

However, the arms sale deal apparently runs counter to the commitments the U.S. side have made.

As one of the most important bilateral relationships in the world, a sound China-U.S. relationship not only conforms to the fundamental interests of the two peoples, but is also conducive to peace, stability and prosperity in the Asia-Pacific region and the world at large.

Now the U.S. side should take the responsibility for the halt of military exchanges between the two countries, which may subsequently deal a blow to bilateral ties.

Source: Xinhua
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