Monday, March 1, 2021

China fails to show at scheduled sea-safety talks with US military

The US admiral in command says China's no-show is another example that China 'does not honour its agreements'.

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The US military on Wednesday slammed China for failing to appear at virtual, senior-level meetings scheduled to go ahead between them this week.

“This is another example that China does not honour its agreements,” said Admiral Phil Davidson, commander of the US Indo-Pacific Command. “It should serve as a reminder to all nations as they pursue agreements with China going forward.”

China had been expected to participate in three days of meetings related to the Military Maritime Consultative Agreement (MMCA) focused on maritime safety, Reuters reports.

The MMCA is partly designed to review any unsafe military incidents that have occurred between US and China’s People’s Liberation Army (PLA) forces, including in the South China Sea.

There was no immediate response from China’s military to Davidson’s remarks and it is not clear why China decided not to participate.

US-China relations have deteriorated rapidly this year over a range of issues, from Beijing’s handling of its Covid-19 outbreak, US military and commercial support to Taiwan, and Beijing’s clamp-down on Hong Kong.

The US has also long opposed China’s territorial claims and base-building in the South China Sea and has deployed warships regularly through the strategically important waterway.

The PLA has met regularly with the US military since 1998 for MMCA talks, says Reuters. The discussions this year were scheduled to be held virtually due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

Davidson reiterated that the US remains committed to the MMCA and he called on the PLA to join discussions as an operational safety dialogue.

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