'China does not honour its agreements,' US admiral says after meeting no-show

It was not immediately clear why China declined to participate. PHOTO: REUTERS

WASHINGTON (REUTERS) - The US military on Wednesday (Dec 16) slammed China for failing to appear at virtual, senior-level meetings slated for this week, with the top US admiral for the Asia-Pacific saying it was "another example that China does not honour its agreements".

"This should serve as a reminder to all nations as they pursue agreements with China going forward," Admiral Phil Davidson, the commander for US Indo-Pacific Command, said in a statement.

China had been expected to participate in Dec 14-16 meetings related to the Military Maritime Consultative Agreement (MMCA) focused on maritime safety, the command said.

It was not immediately clear why China declined to participate.

But Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin said on Thursday the US accusations are not right and irresponsible.

US-China ties have rapidly deteriorated this year over a range of issues, from Beijing's handling of the coronavirus, US support to Taiwan, telecommunications equipment maker Huawei and China's clamp-down on Hong Kong.

The United States has also long opposed China's expansive territorial claims in the South China Sea and has sent warships regularly through the strategic waterway.

The US military said it has met regularly with China's People's Liberation Army (PLA) since 1998 to conduct the MMCA dialogue. The talks this year were scheduled to be held virtually due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

"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," Davidson said, referring to China's People's Liberation Army.

The MMCA is partly designed to review any unsafe military incidents that have occurred between US and PLA forces, including in the South China Sea.

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