Mattis, Chinese Counterpart to Meet 10/17 06:29
U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis plans to meet on Thursday in Singapore
with his Chinese counterpart just weeks after their talks planned for Beijing
fell apart amid growing friction between the U.S. and China.
SINGAPORE (AP) -- U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis plans to meet on
Thursday in Singapore with his Chinese counterpart just weeks after their talks
planned for Beijing fell apart amid growing friction between the U.S. and China.
Shortly after Mattis arrived in Singapore on Wednesday after a visit to
Vietnam, a senior Mattis aide told reporters that the meeting is set to happen
Mattis and Chinese Defense Minister Wei Fenghe were in Singapore for a
regional meeting of defense ministers. Mattis visited China in June, but since
then a series of events have escalated tensions.
The assistant secretary of defense for Asian and Pacific Security Affairs,
Randall Schriver, told reporters the Chinese had requested the Singapore
meeting. In late September, China told the Pentagon that Wei would be
unavailable to meet Mattis in Beijing, so that visit was cancelled.
Schriver said the U.S. sees signs that the military-to-military relationship
may be on the upswing.
"The fact that he's meeting with Minister Wei is some evidence that the
Chinese are interested in keeping things normal and stable, as are we,"
Schriver said. "Our impression is that the (Chinese) military wants to keep
Schriver said the trigger for recent tensions between the Pentagon and the
Chinese military was the Trump administration's decision in September to
sanction the Chinese military for buying Russian fighter planes and missiles.
That action was taken under the Countering America's Adversaries Through
Sanctions Act passed by Congress in 2017.
China responded with strong criticism, followed in the military arena by a
decision to cancel a planned visit to the Pentagon by the head of the Chinese
navy and a confrontation in the South China Sea between a Chinese warship and a
U.S. Navy destroyer, the USS Decatur.
"That may turn out to be a relatively short bump in the road," Schriver
said, adding that Mattis is expected to convey to Wei U.S. interest in normal
relations with the Chinese military.
More broadly, relations between the U.S. and China have deteriorated in
recent months as escalating trade disputes and tariff hikes have been
exacerbated by a newly announced U.S. military equipment sale to Taiwan.