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"Canada can, within a positive friendly atmosphere, ask the Chinese government to resolve the Tibetan situation."

China suspends military exchanges with US

January 31, 2010

By CARA ANNA, Associated Press Writer
Associated Press (AP)
January 30, 2010

BEIJING -- China suspended military exchanges
with the United States and threatened sanctions
against American defense companies Saturday, just
hours after Washington announced $6.4 billion in planned arms sales to Taiwan.

The development has further strained the complex
relations between the two powers, which are
increasingly linked by security and economic issues.

China's Defense Ministry said the sales to
self-governing Taiwan, which the mainland claims
as its own, cause "severe harm" to overall
U.S.-China cooperation, the state-run Xinhua News
Agency reported. The Foreign Ministry threatened
sanctions against U.S. companies involved in the arms sales.

A spokeswoman for the U.S. Embassy, Susan
Stevenson, had no comment on China's actions Saturday.

Taiwan is the most sensitive topic in U.S.-China
relations, and the sales announced Friday could
complicate cooperation between the two sides on
issues ranging from Iran's nuclear program to the
loosening of Internet controls, including a
Google-China standoff over censorship.

China's Vice Foreign Minister He Yafei warned
U.S. Ambassador Jon Huntsman that the sales of
Black Hawk helicopters, Patriot Advanced
Capability-3 missiles and other weapons to Taiwan
would "cause consequences that both sides are
unwilling to see," a ministry statement said Saturday.

The United States is Taiwan's most important ally
and largest arms supplier, and it's bound by law
to ensure the island is able to respond to Chinese threats.

China responds angrily to any proposed arms sale,
however, and it also cut off military ties with
the U.S. in 2008 after the former Bush
administration announced a multibillion-dollar arms sale to Taiwan.

Washington has tried to use military visits to
build trust with Beijing and learn more about the
aims of its massive military buildup.

Overall ties have been tense as President Barack
Obama plans to meet with the Dalai Lama, the
exiled spiritual leader of Tibet, this year. It's
not known whether the Taiwan arms sale will
affect President Hu Jintao's expected visit to the U.S. this year.

Experts on China warned Beijing could take
further steps to punish the United States to show
its newfound power and confidence in world affairs.

Jin Canrong, a professor of international studies
at China's Renmin University, said the sale would
give Beijing a "fair and proper reason" to
accelerate weapons testing. China test-fired
rockets in recent weeks for an anti-missile
defense system in what security experts said was
a display of anger at the pending arms sale.

"The U.S. will pay a price for this. Starting
now, China will make some substantial
retaliation, such as reducing cooperation on the
North Korea and Iran nuclear issues and anti-terrorism work," Jin added.

The latest suspension of military ties should
affect planned visits to China by U.S. Secretary
of Defense Robert Gates and Admiral Michael
Mullen, chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of
Staff. A visit to the U.S. by the Chinese
military's chief of the general staff, Gen. Chen
Bingde, could also be called off.

The U.S. Congress has 30 days to comment on the
newest arms sales before the plan goes forward.
Lawmakers traditionally have supported such sales.

Though Taiwan's ties with China have warmed
considerably since Taiwanese President Ma
Ying-jeou took office 20 months ago, Beijing has
threatened to invade if the island ever
formalizes its de facto independence. China has
more than 1,000 ballistic missiles aimed at Taiwan.

Obama's national security adviser, Jim Jones,
said in a speech Friday that both Washington and
Beijing do things "periodically that may not make
everybody completely happy" but that the United
States is "bent toward a new relationship with
China as a rising power in the world."

The arms package dodges a thorny issue: more
advanced F-16 fighter jets that Taiwan covets are not included.

The Pentagon's decision not to include the
fighters and a design plan for diesel submarines
-- two items Taiwan wants most -- "shows that the
Obama administration is deeply concerned about
China's response," said Wang Kao-cheng, a defense
expert at Taipei's Tamkang University.

Taiwan's Ma told reporters Saturday that the deal
should not anger the mainland because the weapons are defensive, not offensive.

"The weapons sale decision will ... allow us to
have more confidence and sense of security in
developing cross-Strait relations," he said.
___
Associated Press writers Foster Klug and Robert
Burns in Washington, Charles Hutzler in Beijing
and Annie Huang in Taipei contributed to this report.
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