Thursday, February 25, 2016

Disregard of China's peace efforts in South China Sea undermines US sincerity

The unruly and escalating rhetoric by some American politicians and navy leaders against China's activities in the South China Sea shows their complete disregard of Beijing's peace efforts for regional stability.

Adm. Harry Harris Jr., commander of US forces in the Pacific, said at a congressional hearing Tuesday that "China seeks hegemony in East Asia" and a change of "the operational landscape."

Harris' remarks were echoed by two lawmakers, Republican Senator John McCain, who called China a "bully" in the Asia-Pacific region, and his Democratic colleague Jack Reed, who criticized China as an irresponsible stakeholder.

These irresponsible statements are nothing more than a stereotype of intimidation. They have exaggerated China's peaceful military presence in the South China Sea, while neglecting on purpose the crystal-clear fact that China's activities in the region benefit everyone.

The construction of lighthouses, weather forecasting systems, fisher shelters and rescue facilities on Chinese islands are for the public good and benefit passing ships.

Furthermore, China's limited deployment of defence facilities on its islands has been routine for decades and is a legitimate right under international law.

Actually, it is the United States that has been seeking hegemony in East Asia and a change of "the operational landscape" in the region.

It has created a sense of insecurity among regional countries and could potentially lead to the outbreak of an arms race in the Asia-Pacific.

Ignoring its promise not to take sides in the territorial disputes of the region as it is not claimant, Uncle Sam has unfairly pestered China while turning a blind eye to the radars and military facilities deployed by other claimants that illegally occupy Chinese islands and reefs.

Besides, Washington has strengthened surveillance of China's activities and conducted sabre-rattling military drills with other countries that have rival claims.

For the more sober-minded, the South China Sea issue is not and should not be a source of tension between China and the United States.

In fact, a vast potential to cooperate exists for them in such areas as the de-militarization in the South China Sea and enhancement of dialogues to reduce misjudgement and divisions.

Both countries should view their relationship through the lens of a telescope, one that is far-reaching and broad, instead of through a microscope, one that is narrow and short-sighted.

Mindful of the importance of bilateral relations, China adopts a cooperative and goodwill attitude, and maintains lines of communication to ease US concerns.

It is highly advisable that the US side keep its promise and stop meddling in the South China Sea so as to leave it peaceful.

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