HONG KONG (REUTERS) - China's cutting of some of its few communication links with the US military raises the risk of an accidental escalation of tension over Taiwan at a critical moment, according to security analysts, diplomats and US officials.
China called off planned formal talks involving theatre-level commands, defence policy co-ordination and military maritime consultations on Friday (Aug 5) as part of its retaliation against US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's visit to Taiwan this week.
In an editorial on Saturday, the Communist Party's People's Daily newspaper described the response, along with sanctions against Mrs Pelosi and her family, as "effective measures that fully demonstrates that China is fully determined and capable of safeguarding national unity and safeguarding ... sovereignty and territorial integrity".
Mr Christopher Twomey, a security scholar at the US Naval Postgraduate School in California, told Reuters the severing of the communication links was worrying, coming at what he believed was the beginning of a new Taiwan crisis.
China fired ballistic missiles over Taipei as part of four days of unprecedented military drills around the island it claims as its own - exercises due to end at noon on Sunday.
"This increased density of forces, in the context of an intensifying crisis, raises the prospect for inadvertent escalation that neither side wants," Mr Twomey said, speaking in a private capacity.
"That is precisely the time you would want to have more opportunities to talk to the other side ... Losing those channels greatly reduces the ability of the two sides to de-conflict military forces as various exercises and operations continue."
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