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China scales back military ties with U.S. over F-16s

NEW YORK — China plans to cancel or postpone some U.S.-China military exchanges after Washington announced last week that it would upgrade Taiwan's fleet of F-16 fighter jets, a senior U.S. official said.

Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton met Monday with Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi, who urged the United States to reconsider the arms sale, warning it would undermine the trust and confidence between the two sides.

China regards self-governing Taiwan as part of its territory and cut military ties with the United States for several months after the last major arms sale, including Black Hawk helicopters, announced in early 2010.

China's response this time has been more restrained, apparently because the United States did not agree to sell new F-16 plans that Taiwan also wants.

The United States is obligated under legislation passed by Congress in 1979 to supply Taiwan with weapons for its self-defense. The military balance across the 100-mile-wide Taiwan Strait has tipped heavily in the mainland's favor, as Beijing has ramped up defense spending in the past decade or more.

At Monday's meeting, Yang did not threaten any specific consequences over the latest $5.85 billion sale.

The Associated Press reported that the senior U.S. official said he was told by Chinese officials in other meetings that China would suspend, cancel or reschedule some military-to-military exchanges.

The official gave no further details and spoke on condition of anonymity because of diplomatic sensitivities, the Associated Press reported.

The Obama administration has deepened ties with Beijing, and sees the military exchanges as mitigating the risk of U.S. forces tangling with China's in East Asia and the West Pacific.

In July, Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, traveled to China, the first visit of its kind in four years. That followed a visit to the United States in May by his Chinese counterpart, Chen Bingde.

Top Chinese security official visits Pakistan

ISLAMABAD — Pakistan hosted China's top security official and staged war games with Saudi Arabia on Monday, strengthening ties with two regional players as its relationship with the United States plummets over allegations that Islamabad supports insurgents in Afghanistan.

Ties with Washington have soured over the last year, but Pakistani officials and commentators have been talking up their country's relationship with Beijing.

Some have suggested Pakistan's emboldened alliance with China could replace its strategic relationship with the United States if the Obama administration decides to downgrade engagement with Islamabad.

China's Public Security Minister Meng Jianzhu met his Pakistani counterpart, Interior Minister Rehman Malik, who brushed aside questions on the timing of the visit.

"Let's not talk USA here. I am here with my friend China," Malik told reporters. "China is always there for us in the most difficult moments."

China scales back military ties with U.S. over F-16s 09/26/11 [Last modified: Monday, September 26, 2011 10:25pm]
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