Arms sales to Taiwan major irritant in Sino-US ties: China

US and China on Tuesday resumed their military-to-military level contacts snapped in January.

Beijing: US and China on Tuesday resumed their
military-to-military level contacts snapped in January with
Beijing unwilling to take the bilateral ties ahead over
irritants like arms sales to Taiwan.

The Chinese frustration was voiced by a top PLA
commander Ma Xiaotian, who said his country`s plans for
boosting military exchanges with the US had been "seriously
disrupted" by Obama administrations announcement that it would
go ahead with USD 6.4 billion military sales to Taiwan. China
regards Taiwan as its territory which has to be reunified with
the mainland.

Ma described frequent reconnaissance by the US naval
ships and aircraft in the waters and airspace of China`s
exclusive economic zones, as another irritant in forging close
forces level ties between the two countries.

But, the American side was more positive as Admiral
Robert Willard, US Pacific Commander, heading his country`s
delegation, lamenting that forces level contact were lagging
behind the two countries other engagements.

Willard told Ma, who is the deputy chief of the
General Staff of the Chinese People`s Liberation Army before
the formal talks "other very mature engagements that occur
between the two countries."

Willard is a part of the 200 member American
delegation visiting China along with Secretary of State
Hillary Clinton to take part in the second round of the
strategic and economic dialogue.

The meeting was the first high-ranking military talks
between the two sides since China in January partially halted
military exchange programmes between the two countries in
protest over US arms sales to Taiwan.

Willard told Ma that, "I`ve been struck by the
maturity and sophistication in the level of exchange between
the US and China in a wide variety of areas. Regretfully, the
military to military relationship, we think, lags far behind
these other very mature engagements that occur between our two
countries," he said.

The US Congress passed bills limiting military
exchanges with China, as represented by the 2000 Fiscal Year
Defence Authorisation Law.

"The US side should be fully responsible for the
prevention of the growth of China-US military relations,"
official Xinhua news agency quoted him as saying at the
meeting. US respect for China`s core interests and major
concerns was the key to the resumption of sound and steadily
developing bilateral military ties, Ma said.

The US was expected to show sincerity in addressing
sensitive issues to create conditions for the resumption and
healthy development of China-US military ties, Ma said.

He said China always attaches importance to mutual
trust and cooperation in the military field with the United
States and was willing to conduct exchanges and cooperation
with the US side in the principle of respect, equality, mutual
trust, and reciprocity.


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