There have been reports that two Chinese fighter jets recently intercepted a US U-2 spy plane over the Taiwan Straits. When asked to comment on the incident, US Admiral Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said on Monday: “We both have to be very careful about how we fly them. We have to be careful about the intercepts.”
His remarks certainly sound prudent, but they carefully avoided the crucial point – it is the US military’s dangerous war games around China’s air and maritime territory that have repeatedly triggered China’s legitimate response.
The cause and effect should be clear to everyone.
And the United States shows no sign of giving up such games. Mullen reiterated on the same occasion that the US military “won’t be deterred from flying in international airspace” on China’s doorstep, despite opposition from Beijing.
Mullen did say that his country does not want a repeat of the incident in 2001, when a Chinese fighter jet and a US military reconnaissance plane collided near China’s coast killing the Chinese pilot.
However, the onus is on the US to avoid such provocative flights, which can and will cause grave damage to relations between the two countries.
It is worth noting that military-to-military relations are the most difficult and delicate part of Sino-US ties. Military interaction has only resumed in recent months, through the painstaking efforts of both sides, after Beijing cut off defense ties last year when Washington announced a $6 billion weapons sale to Taiwan.
During Mullen’s visit to China, Chen Bingde, the General Chief-of-Staff of the People’s Liberation Army, also voiced his concern on potential miscalculations or even clashes between the two militaries.
While China welcomes the US military presence in Asia-Pacific for its constructive role in maintaining regional stability, that does not mean that China will compromise on issues relating to its territorial integrity or national security. Chen criticized the US naval drills in the South China Sea and attempted arms sale to Taiwan, and also urged the US to reduce or halt its military surveillance near China’s coast.
Given the increasingly interdependent relations between China and the US, and the commitment by both governments to build a cooperative partnership in the 21st century, it is in both sides’ interests to build and maintain good-neighborliness based on mutual respect for each other’s sovereignty and national dignity.
Washington should show its political will and stop playing with guns on China’s doorsteps.
“Good fences make good neighbors” the words of the American poet Robert Frost also hold true for this relationship.
Source: China Daily