Continued from page 1

“With an increasingly complex global and regional security environment, it is not just important to the U.S. and to China, it is also important to, and in the interest of, the entire region that the progress and momentum in the military-to-military relationship established over the last year is not interrupted or curtailed,” she said.

On Tuesday, the chief of U.S. forces in the Pacific, Navy Adm. Robert Willard, said Beijing was very likely to retain the highest-level exchanges of visits because of their importance to China, allowing the two sides to continue strategic discussions.

The Obama administration has deepened ties with Beijing, and sees the military exchanges as mitigating the risk of U.S. forces tangling with China’s in East Asia and the West Pacific.

U.S. arms sales to Taiwan have been spurred by Beijing’s rapid military buildup and come amid friction over territorial disputes in the South China Sea that have prompted countries such as Vietnam and the Philippines to strengthen their military ties with the U.S.

An editorial Wednesday in the Communist Party’s official People’s Daily said such moves by the countries were a vestige of “Cold War thinking” that could exacerbate tensions - combining declarations of peaceful intent with warnings not to underestimate China’s determination to defend its claims.

“Some countries think all they need do is draw the support of American military strength to counter China and then do whatever they like,” the newspaper said, without naming the countries.