Soaring US-China tensions may lead to the cancellation of a major diplomatic and security meeting between officials of the two global economic powers next month amid their persisting trade war, sources have said.
Two Beijing-based diplomatic sources briefed on the planned meetings were cited by media as saying that US Defense Secretary James Mattis and US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo were both due to take part in the US-China Diplomatic and Security Dialogue next month in Beijing, noting that the event was now in doubt.
The last such meeting was held in Washington last year in a bid to reboot earlier high-level discussions under prior US administrations.
The continuing US-China tensions are now escalating beyond trade after US President Donald Trump accused Beijing during his UN General Assembly address earlier this week of trying to meddle in the upcoming US midterm congressional elections.
Beijing has also been enraged by Washington’s imposition of new sanctions on the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) for its purchases of Russian weaponry. The Chinese government has also objected against what it regards as surging US support for the self-ruled Taiwan, which China claims as its sacred territory.
“There is a lot of uncertainty because of the turbulence in the relationship [between Beijing and Washington],” said one of the sources quoted in the report.
The second source further asserted that China was especially disappointed by the US sanctions on the Chinese military as well as its support for Taiwan which included sales of weapons to the island.
Both sources spoke on condition of anonymity, but further cautioned that the meetings may still take place as planned, and that no final decisions have been reached.
This is while China’s Defense Ministry declared in a statement that it was communicating with US officials about the dialogue, saying: “China and the US have all along maintained communication about the diplomatic and security dialogue.”
China’s Foreign Ministry further announced in a short statement that the two countries were in “close contact” about the dialogue and that it would react toward any new developments in a timely fashion.