China has been accused of not honoring its “agreements” by a senior officer in the United States Navy.
Admiral Phil Davidson, the commander for US Indo-Pacific Command, waded into the row after representatives of the People’s Liberation Army failed to attend a virtual summit this week to discuss maritime safety.
Both sides have met regularly since 1998 as part of the Military Maritime Consultative Agreement or MMCA, the Reuters news agency reported.
- The MMCA is designed to review “unsafe military incidents” between the US and PLA forces.
- The talks are crucial with tension rising in the South and East China Seas.
- Beijing announced its decision to go AWOL from the three-day meeting 24 hours after it was due to end on November 16.
What Admiral Davidson said: “[This was] another example that China does not honor its agreements. This should serve as a reminder to all nations as they pursue agreements with China going forward … [But] we remain committed to the MMCA and call on the PLA to hold the MMCA dialogue in a manner consistent with the MMCA Charter and purpose as an operational safety dialogue.”
In response, Colonel Liu Wensheng, of the PLA Navy, said: “The United States insisted on pushing its unilateral agenda … even attempting to force China to participate in the meeting before the two sides reached an agreement on the topics.”
China Factor comment: Relations between Washington and Beijing are stuck firmly in the deep freeze. During the past 18 months, Sino-American ties have rapidly deteriorated over a range of issues. They include Beijing’s initial cover-up of the Covid-19 outbreak, US military support for the island democracy of Taiwan, and the crackdown on ‘freedom of expression’ in Hong Kong after the 2019 pro-democracy protests. Another bone of contention is a planned Chinese underway internet cable connecting the Pacific islands.