Washington, Oct 1: US Defence Secretary James Mattis has cancelled a planned visit to China in October in a latest sign of deteriorating ties between Washington and Beijing, the media reported.The last-minute cancellation was publicly confirmed by the Pentagon.
According to a US government official, Mattis had originally planned to visit the Chinese capital to meet senior Chinese officials to discuss security issues.
The decision to pull out of the trip came amid growing tensions between the US and China across multiple fronts, from the Trump administration’s tariffs on Chinese goods to new sanctions announced against the Chinese military.
At a press conference last week, US President Donald Trump said that his “friendship” with his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping may have come to an end.
“He may not be a friend of mine anymore. But I think he probably respects me,” Trump said.
The Trump administrations imposed 10 per cent of tariffs on $200 billion in Chinese goods in September, in addition to the trade measures already in place. The Chinese government responded in kind, with between 5 per cent to 10 per cent tariffs on $60 billion of US goods.
Following the new round of tariffs, Beijing called off planned trade talks with Washington, leaving no end in sight for the ongoing trade war.
The Chinese government had also cancelled a port visit to Hong Kong by the USS Wasp, a US Navy amphibious assault ship, last week. This move came after the US government decided to sanction Chinese military figures over their purchases of Russian combat aircraft and missile systems.
The diplomatic rift between Washington and Beijing has spilled over from military and trade issues into the political arena in the past week, after Trump accused China of meddling in the upcoming US elections.