0246 GMT February 17, 2019
Spokeswoman Hua Chunying said in a statement posted on the website of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs that the two sides had initially agreed “in principle” to hold the second round of security talks in October, Reuters reported.
“The United States has recently expressed its wish to postpone the dialogue,” she said, adding that the two sides would continue to “maintain communication” on the talks. She did not elaborate.
The meeting of the US China Diplomatic and Security Dialogue, which first took place in Washington last year, was due to be held with US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis.
A US official confirmed on Sunday that the meeting had been canceled, though he did not say whether it was related to an escalating trade dispute, concerns about US arms sales to Taiwan, which Beijing considers as its own province, or Chinese military activity in the South China Sea.
Sources in Beijing said last week that China’s People’s Liberation Army was unhappy with US sanctions on the Chinese military and its approval of a new round of arms sales to Taiwan.
Also China expressed anger on Tuesday after a US Navy destroyer sailed near islands in the disputed South China Sea, saying it resolutely opposed an operation that it called a threat to its sovereignty.
A US official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the destroyer the USS Decatur traveled within 12 nautical miles of Gaven and Johnson Reefs in the Spratly Islands on Sunday.
The operation was the latest attempt to counter what Washington sees as Beijing’s efforts to limit freedom of navigation in the strategic waters, where Chinese, Japanese and some Southeast Asian navies operate.
China’s Defense Ministry said a Chinese naval ship had been sent to warn the US vessel to leave.
The ministry said China has irrefutable sovereignty over the South China Sea islands and the waters around them, and the situation there is progressing well thanks to the hard work of China and countries in Southeast Asia.