US rebukes China for suspending military ties

Friday, June 4, 2010

SINGAPORE - US Defence Secretary Robert Gates Saturday rebuked China for suspending military ties over US arms sales to Taiwan, saying Beijing’s rationale made little sense.

“Chinese officials have broken off interactions between our militaries, citing US arms sales to Taiwan as the rationale,” he said.

“This makes little sense,” Gates said, adding that interruptions in the military exchange with China would not change the US policy toward Taiwan.

There was “great opportunity and great benefit” in such contacts, Gates told a summit on Asian security in Singapore, renewing his call for deeper military-to-military relations between the two nations.

Such an exchange should not be “held hostage” by US arms sales to Taiwan, which are “nothing new”, Gates said.

January’s decision by the US administration to sell “select defensive weapons” to Taiwan should come as no surprise as it was in line with long-standing US policy, he said.

The US had over the years made clear that “we do not support independence for Taiwan”, Gates noted, adding that “nothing - I repeat, nothing - has changed in that stance.”

On the background of China’s accelerating military buildup, US arms sales to Taiwan were “an important component of maintaining peace and stability”, Gates said.

The US is ready to work on “sustained and reliable military-to-military contacts at all levels that reduce miscommunication, misunderstanding and miscalculation”, Gates said.

Chinese General Ma Xiaotian, deputy chief of General Staff of the People’s Liberation Army, said that the US-China military ties had only been “temporarily suspended” on a high level, while exchange on lower levels continued.

“We hope that we can resolve the problems,” Ma told the delegates of the Singapore 2010 Shangri-La Dialogue, the largest summit on security in Asia.

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