Defense Secretary James N. Mattis’ planned trip to Beijing has been scrapped, Pentagon officials confirmed Monday in the latest sign of deepening tensions between the U.S. and China.
The visit, which hadn’t been officially announced but had been in the works as part of the secretary’s trip to Asia later this month, was expected to focus on regional security issues.
Pentagon officials did not elaborate on the reasons for the change in plans, only saying Mr. Mattis will not visit Beijing.
The news comes as the relationship between Washington and Beijing continues to deteriorate. The Trump administration has implemented billions of dollars in tariffs on Chinese goods, part of the president’s vow to cut America’s $376 billion trade deficit with China.
Beijing has responded by putting in place its own tariffs on U.S. goods.
Tensions were ratcheted up further last week after Mr. Trump charged that China is trying to meddle in the upcoming U.S. midterm elections with the aim of hurting Republicans.
A senior administration official recently told reporters that “China is actively interfering in our political system” by “hurting farmers and workers in states and districts that voted for the president.”On the military front, the Navy over the weekend reportedly sailed a warship close to disputed islands in the South China Sea. Last spring, the U.S. disinvited China from the massive Rim of the Pacific military exercises over Beijing’s actions in the South China Sea.
As for Mr. Mattis’ trip to Beijing, there are conflicting reports as to exactly how the meeting fell apart. The New York Times reported Sunday night that China canceled the meeting, while CNN cited military officials saying Mr. Mattis decided to pull out of the visit.