China Cancels Security Meeting With US Defense Secretary Mattis

October 1, 2018 Updated: October 1, 2018

WASHINGTON—China has canceled a security meeting with U.S. Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis that had been planned for this month, a senior U.S. official said.

The official, who is involved in China policy and spoke on condition of anonymity, said on Sept. 30 that it isn’t clear if the cancellation is related to the broad range of disputes between Beijing and Washington on issues such as arms sales and military activity in the South China Sea and other waters around China. The official also said it isn’t clear if or when the meeting would be rescheduled.

The cancellation was first reported by the New York Times.

China and the United States also are locked in a spiraling trade war that has seen each side level increasingly severe rounds of tariffs on the other’s imports.

“The tension is escalating, and that could prove to be dangerous to both sides,” the official said.

The U.S. State Department declined to comment. Officials at the White House and Department of Defense didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment. China’s Foreign and Defense Ministries also didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

Sources in Beijing briefed on the matter had said last week that the meeting might not take place because of the tensions in relations between the two countries.

At a U.N. Security Council meeting on Sept. 26, President Donald Trump accused Beijing of seeking to meddle in the Nov. 6 U.S. congressional elections to stop him and his Republican Party from doing well because of his China trade policies.

By John Walcott