Strategic reassurance? Yes, please

09:03, October 29, 2009      

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During his visit to the Pentagon on Tuesday, Xu Caihou, vice chairman of the CPC's Central Military Commission, pointed out that the healthy development of military exchange between China and the US must be freed of several major barriers, including US arms sales to Taiwan and US surveillance activities in China's Exclusive Economic Zones.

Those are the main issues that have hindered bilateral military ties in the past, which remain the weakest link between the two countries.

James Steinberg, US deputy secretary of state, raised the concept of "strategic reassurance" in his speech last month, in which he outlined several areas where China needs to clarify its intentions, the growth of military power being one of them.

Steinberg took the words out of our mouth. On China's core security concerns, China actually needs strategic reassurance from the US. Ceasing weapon sales to Taiwan and stopping hostile surveillance activities in China's surrounding sea areas are two of them.

Since President Obama took office, he has not made any decision nor sent a clear message over arms sales to Taiwan. We have few reasons to be optimistic of his stance on the Taiwan question. In March, a China-US military confrontation in the South China Sea had the danger of escalating into a serious clash.

Defense Secretary Robert Gates hopes China-US military relations can break the cycle of "on-again, off-again." For that to happen, the normal two-way military exchange has to be on an equal footing.

It will not go further if one side feels consistently threatened. If Washington insists on pinning China down by supplying weapons to Taiwan and keeps sending planes to spy on China's maritime facilities, smooth and deep military relations between the two countries will be impossible.

China has no reason to challenge US interests, but China has every reason to protect its core interests, even if that puts it at odds with the US.

Clear assurance from the White House on the abovementioned two issues is a prerequisite for acquiring strategic trust from China.

The sense of insecurity the US feels is created by Washington itself. It will constantly feel at opposition with China if Washington continues to consider the Taiwan Straits to be of the US's strategic interest.

Relieving this burden will have a positive impact on China-US relations, and allow the US to play a more active, leading role in the Asia-Pacific region.

China does not ask to dominate East Asia, or for any privilege in the Pacific Ocean. Territorial integration and offshore security is a realistic request for any country.

The US should adjust its security concept, and not squeeze China's growth. This will lead to long-term peace and stability in China-US relations.

Source: Global Times
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