U.S.' Mattis looks for 'way ahead' after China scraps military talks

Chinese military helicopters and fighter jets took part in rehearsals ahead of a military parade to commemorate the end of World War II in Beijing Sunday Aug. 23 2015

A Chinese official said China can not hold talks on ending the trade dispute while the US "holds a knife" to Beijing's neck by imposing tariff hikes.

U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said on Monday he was seeking a way ahead for military ties with China after Beijing postponed military talks in protest at last week's U.S. decision to impose sanctions over China's purchase of Russian weaponry.

Further complicating matters, the USA has approved a $330 million arms deal with Taiwan that will improve the combat readiness of Taiwan's air assets.

Chinese military helicopters and fighter jets took part in rehearsals ahead of a military parade to commemorate the end of World War II in Beijing, Sunday, Aug. 23, 2015.

USA military sales to self-ruled Taiwan, which China claims as its territory, is an irritant in the relations between the world's two largest economies.

With world leaders in NY this week for the United Nations General Assembly, one of the underlying storylines of the meeting is the simmering tensions between the United States and China after the Trump administration last week slapped economic sanctions on a Chinese military agency and its director over the purchase of Russian fighter jets and surface-to-air missile equipment.

Military ties between Washington and Beijing have been relatively stable in recent years, even as the USA complained of China militarizing reefs and islands in the South China Sea amid overlapping territorial claims by other Asian nations.

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In recent days the breadth of military tensions has grown. In May, the United States disinvited the People's Liberation Army-Navy from the 2018 iteration of the biennial Rim of the Pacific multilateral naval drills.

"We believe that we do have to have a relationship with China and Secretary (of State Mike) Pompeo and I are of one mind on this", Mattis told reporters at the Pentagon.

At the Pentagon, Lieutenant Colonel Dave Eastburn confirmed that the USA military had been informed that China's Navy chief would no longer meet America's top naval officer, Admiral John Richardson. Those purchases violated a 2017 law meant to punish the Russian government for interfering in US elections and other activities.

Also on Tuesday, Chinese officials demanded the US cancel a planned $330 million sale of military equipment to Taiwan, the self-ruled island that Beijing considers a renegade province. In addition to warning that failure to revoke the sanctions would mean Washington "must bear the consequences", Beijing postponed a meeting it had been scheduled to host this week between USA and Chinese military staffs.

"The Chinese government did not approve a request for a port visit to Hong Kong by the USS Wasp", the consulate noted.

The amphibious assault ship Wasp had been due to make a port call in the former British colony of Hong Kong in October, diplomatic sources said.

In 2016, at a time of heightened tension over its territorial claims in the disputed South China Sea, China denied a request for a USA carrier strike group led by the John C. Stennis to visit Hong Kong.

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