China Declines to Invite U.S. Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates for Visit

U.S. Defense Secretary will not be visiting China on his current tour of Asia, the Washington Post reports:

Gates had been hoping for months to visit Beijing this summer, a destination that took on added importance at the Pentagon after North Korea — which sees China as its closest ally and diplomatic protector — was accused last month of sinking a South Korean warship with a torpedo, killing 46 sailors.

But Beijing declined to extend an invitation. Pentagon officials said no specific reason was given. But they said they assumed China was still annoyed by the Obama administration’s announcement in January that it would approve $6.4 billion in arms sales to Taiwan.

Although U.S. weapons sales to Taiwan are hardly new, they are considered a longstanding policy irritant by Beijing, which considers Taiwan a breakaway province. Beijing suspended military-to-military exchanges with Washington in 2007 after the Bush administration approved a separate set of arms sales to Taiwan.

Pentagon press secretary Geoff Morrell said Gates was frustrated by the Chinese response in both cases.



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