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Outworn strategy frays Sino-US military ties|
Source: Global Times [22:36 July 15 2010]
By Yang Yi
Recently, the US government has sent out some positive signals in hope of normalizing Sino-US military relations.
For example, they have expressed a hope that US defense secretary Robert Gates could be invited to visit China before the end of this year, and there have been leaks to the media that the US government may change its administrative review procedures of arms sales to Taiwan in 2010.
All these signals should be affirmed and encouraged, but they are not enough to be applauded.
The normalization of the Sino-US military relationship cannot rely on the US government's actions alone. The US needs to make fundamental adjustments to its strategy to prevent inherent contradictions from repeatedly interfering with the relationship.
Military relationships between nations are among the most sensitive and shifting diplomatic areas, and the Sino-US relationship is no exception. Compared to political and economic cooperation, military relations between the two nations are still lacking in trust.
At the Asian Security Conference in 2009, Gates publicly accused China of setting obstacles to normal military communication between the two countries. But the US government is the real saboteur here, because the fundamental factors that constrain the relationship have not yet been removed.
First of all, the US needs to adjust its attitude. It has to accept that China is growing into a militarily powerful country, and it should stop trying to frustrate this.
Chinese military modernization is unstoppable, and any policy of blockade, sanction or containment will only have a negative effect on Sino-American military relations. The only way forward is to welcome and accept the rise in China's military strength.
With the expansion of China's military strength, China and the US will conduct more and more activities in the same airspace and maritime regions, which increases the risk of accidents. Therefore, both sides should strictly abide by the relevant international rules in order to avoid dangerous actions such as low level dives.
At present, US warships and military aircraft frequently conduct close reconnaissance activities along the Chinese coast, which is provocative and risky. The US needs to consider the feelings of other countries. After all, if China ran such activities along the coast of the US, what would the reaction be?
There is also a fundamental difference in the strategic cultures of China and the US that needs to be addressed to smooth military communication. The US believes that any problems can be solved by dialogue, whereas China believes that the US has violated core Chinese national interests in Taiwan, and thus has shaken the political basis of the relationship and made it impossible to hold regular conversations.
The US needs to be highly cautious over dealing with Taiwan, especially over arms sales, in order to stop Sino-US military relations from being periodically disturbed by politics. With the two sides of the Taiwan Straits now at a new stage of peace and development, the US needs to abandon the old strategic thinking, make a fresh start, and not cause trouble over cross-Straits relations.
There are also issues of bilateral transparency.
In recent years, US and its European allies have maintained military sanctions against China, while, at the same time, pressuring China to increase military transparency. This is grossly unfair.
The US has an enormous military advantage, strong military alliances, and can exert an effective military embargo against China. How can China be expected to be more transparent under such a burden?
Despite this, China has constantly improved its military transparency, publishing regular papers and opening up military facilities.
Its strategic intentions are also highly transparent. China was the first country to publicly declare a no-first-use policy for nuclear weapons, and maintains that it will never seek hegemony or development through military expansion. The US should reciprocate with similar transparency in order to build a stronger relationship.