BEIJING – A top Chinese general criticized the U.S. on Thursday for selling arms to Taiwan and accused Washington of only being cooperative when it needs help with international campaigns.
Relations between the countries are generally good, but Taiwan is a sensitive point. The two sides split during a civil war in 1949, and China sees the self-governing island as a renegade province. The Bush administration's approval last year of a major arms sale to Taiwan led China to break off military talks with the United States.
"You keep challenging and violating our core national interests, and we have to react," People's Liberation Army Chief of the General Staff Chen Bingde said at a meeting in Beijing with his U.S. counterpart, Gen. George Casey.
Chen said the United States has sought China's help in international operations such as the war in Afghanistan or in fighting piracy off Somalia but undermined the mutual trust needed for such cooperation with its arms sales to Taiwan.
"Once the United State needs us to cooperate, they are good to us, they are friendly to us. Otherwise, they can do anything they want, even to offend the Chinese people. But I don't think that kind of cooperation can continue," Chen said at the meeting, which was open to the media.
Casey, the Army chief of staff, said Washington understood Beijing's position on Taiwan, but that there needed to be understanding on both sides.
"It's difficult to build a lasting relationship when we start from a point that 'we have problem and it is you'," Casey said.
Nevertheless, Casey insisted the growing military ties between China and the U.S. would "withstand the vagaries of political turbulence."
U.S. officials say China suspended most military dialogue with Washington last year after the Bush administration approved a $6.5 billion arms package to Taiwan.
Relations improved this year, and military contacts resumed, but Taiwan has a number of weapons requests pending in Washington, including one for relatively advanced F-16 fighter jets.