A Broken Military Engagement

Chinese foreign minister Yang Jiechi sat down with U.S. secretary of state Hillary Clinton yesterday. The new U.S. arms deal for Taiwan, including upgrades to Taipei’s fleet of F-16s, was front and center. Yang told Clinton that Washington should think again about its plans. According to a State Department official, Yang and the Chinese “have indicated that they're going to suspend or to cancel or postpone a series of . . . military-to-military engagements.” Clinton, in return, cited U.S. strategic interest in the region and the Taiwan Relations Act.

U.S. ambassador to China Gary Locke is a backpacker no more. Made popular by photos that showed him buying his own coffee and carrying his own bags, enthusiasm seems to be waning. Some commentators have criticized the Chinese media for fawning over the ambassador when really he is getting “far more attention than he deserves.” One commentator wrote that they are “romanticizing about what they see out of a lack of knowledge.”

The State Department meanwhile wouldn’t confirm that there may be more bilateral talks between the U.S. and North Korea. Deputy spokesman Mark Toner said that Washington has “nothing further to announce” on that front. Deputy Assistant Secretary Edgard Kagan did recently visit Korea.

And Yemeni president Ali Abdullah Saleh has only managed to insight more protests with his statements that “terrorists” are responsible for recent violence during anti-government protests.