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Page last updated at 23:40 GMT, Monday, 6 October 2008 00:40 UK

China cancels US military contact

AH-64 Apache helicopter (file image)
The US said the deal would not affect the military balance in the region

China has cancelled military and diplomatic exchanges with the US in protest at a $6.5bn deal to supply Taiwan with arms, US officials say.

A number of senior level visits and military-to-military exchanges due before November would not go ahead, the US defence department said.

The sales include advanced interceptor missiles, Apache helicopters and submarine-launched missiles.

China regards Taiwan as its territory and opposes US military support.

'Unfortunate'

Pentagon spokesman Maj Stewart Upton said: "China's continued politicisation of our military relationship results in missed opportunities."

The Chinese move affects a visit by a senior Chinese general, navy port calls and meetings on the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.

China will also not participate in an exchange on humanitarian assistance and disaster relief.

"It's an unfortunate step," said US state department deputy spokesman Robert Wood.

On Saturday the Chinese foreign ministry said: "The Chinese government and the Chinese people strongly oppose and object to the US government's actions, which harm Chinese interests and Sino-US relations."

The US is Taiwan's largest arms supplier.

The US said the deal would not alter the military balance in the region but was "a demonstration of the commitment of this administration to provide Taiwan the defensive arms its needs to be strong".


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