Carter accepted in November an invitation to visit China after he met with the country’s defense minister, Gen. Chang Wanquan, during a meeting in Malaysia. U.S. defense officials said at the time that the two senior defense officials agreed to work out details for a visit this spring, but when the Pentagon released details about the trip Friday, China was not included.
Cook said Friday that Carter still expects to visit China later this year. The secretary’s “complicated schedule did not allow for it to take place during this trip,” he said. The Wall Street Journal first reported the decision Friday, and U.S. officials said they informed Beijing in the past few weeks that Carter would not be visiting.
Carter discussed his trip Friday during a speech at the Council on Foreign Relations in New York, saying — as he often does — that the Asia-Pacific region is the most consequential region to America’s future. While the United States and China have disagreements over some issues, they are continuing to work through those, he said.
“This is a region that has had it good for 70 years, and this would be a serious mistake for all of us to allow that to unravel,” he said in response to a question. “And for militarization to lead to tension, to lead to conflict. So, we’re trying to prevent that.”
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