China says it’s up to the US to ‘create the conditions’ for military talks

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China said it is up to the US to take steps toward resuming high-level military discussions that were suspended after Nancy Pelosi visited Taiwan, comments that hint at lingering tensions between the world’s two largest economies.

“If the US really wants to carry out positive and constructive dialogue and exchange with China, it must show sincerity and take action,” Defense Ministry spokesman Tan Kefei said on Thursday at a briefing in Beijing, adding that Washington should “respect China’s core interests and major concerns.

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“The US side cannot seek to fully resume dialogue and exchanges with China while constantly harming China’s interests,” Tan said in comments that come after US lawmakers stepped up support for Taiwan’s armed forces.

China cut off talks with the US on military, climate and other issues after Pelosi became the first sitting House speaker to visit Taiwan in 25 years in August. Discussions on climate issues resumed in November after President Joe Biden and Chinese leader Xi Jinping met on the sidelines of the Group of 20 summit in Indonesia.

Still, tensions remain over Taiwan, which Washington supports militarily and Beijing has pledged to bring under its control. China this week held its largest military drills near the democratically run island since the unprecedented exercises that followed Pelosi’s trip, a visit that had itself raised concern over conflict erupting.

The latest exercises –- involving some 71 warplanes that the US criticized as “provocative” –- were intended to signal China’s displeasure over US lawmakers agreeing to a $1.7 trillion spending bill that included $2 billion in weapons funding for Taipei.

China’s Defense Ministry earlier blasted the US National Defense Authorization Act, which permits up to $10 billion in weapons sales to Taiwan, saying it interfered in the Asian nation’s internal affairs.

Tan renewed that criticism on Thursday, saying “the US has continuously released a number of negative policy papers and bills related to China,” wantonly trumpeting great power competition.

This was “further undermining the foundation and atmosphere for communication and exchanges between the two militaries,” he added.

Tan did say that “communication between the two militaries at the working level has not been interrupted, indicating that Beijing is keen to ensure relations between the armed forces don’t significantly worsen.”

Read more: China says aims to rebuild ties with US in diplomatic push for 2023

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