China, U.S. should have 'eye' in long-range focus

15:57, January 10, 2011      

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Shortly after the New Year, US Defense Secretary Robert Gates arrived in China on Sunday for a four-day visit to the country, and Gates' trip to China, his first since 2007, came just 10 days ahead of a state visit to Washington by Chinese President Hu Jintao. Secretary Gates’ current China visit has brought new hopes to Sino-US military relations, which has been in difficulty because of lingering problems.

Ups and downs in the Sino-US military relations over the past few years have given an eloquently proof to the complex nature and dual character of the army-to-army ties between the two countries. Their tortuous experiences has resulted in a negatively complicated mindset of quite a few people in observing the Sino-US military ties in the years ahead.

We have to recognize as a matter of course that some obstacles and even serious disparities existing in the Sino-US military relationship. For instance, the longstanding US arms sale to Taiwan for decades, the problems of US warships and aeroplanes operating frequently near China's shores or in the proximity of Chinese airspace. US Congressional restriction on military cooperation and exchanges with China, and a repeated show of force close to China and its surrounding waters, and the mechanism of a joint force by both U.S. and Japan for continuous containment of China, and so on. These issues have seriously impeded the smooth growth of Sino-US military ties.

While observing the negative aspects, what should deserve greater attention in the meanwhile is that there are still huge related interests apart from differences between China and the U.S. What is owed to these related interests is definitely the growth of the overall situation, in which Sino-US military ties are maintained without getting broken, and progress is made without getting retrogressed or retreated.

For example, a mutual trust is enhanced to reduce misconception about strategy and to control crisis; peace and stability in the Asia-Pacific and the entire world are safeguarded jointly to promote the humanity's common prosperity and progress, and China and the U.S. have extensive, vital common interests and shared responsibility in the fight against global war on terrorism, for preventing the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction (WMD); for enhancing nuclear weaponry system safety and for addressing global increasingly serious non-traditional security threats and other areas. So, there is a huge demand for bilateral strategic cooperation.

Moreover, the differences between China and the U.S. also need to be dissolved gradually through strengthening dialogue, exchanges for mutual trust and the expansion of consensus and require the creativity and initiative through turning the "adjacent gully into paddy fields." Unfortunately, some people always advocate the total military confrontation and Zero-sum approach however in the course of developing Sino-US military ties, in a vain attempt to intimidate China into submission by force.

Therefore, people have often seen behind the Sino-US relations a "spectre" of force. Numerous facts have given a proof that military onslaught alone cannot cope with differences between China and the U.S., but only create a lose-lose situation instead of promoting the growth of Sino-US military relations, still less progress. We sincerely hope that the United States can take Secretary Gates' visit as an opportunity to show sincerity and advance Sino-US military relations.

Objectively, there are still many difficulties and obstacles in promoting the growth of Sino-US military ties, but we cannot agree to the view that these difficulties pose a reason to hinder the growth of bilateral military ties. In times of difficulties, we should learn from history and learn all the more from these great men who made the history.

In 1972, a major historic breakthrough was made in Sino-US relations, and this is precisely because the two leaders, namely late Chairman Mao Zedong and former US President Richard Nixon, who, standing at the height of world history, created a great piece of history, with their strategist courage and superb, extraordinary wisdom.

Almost four decades have elapsed, and the history of Sino-US relations today seem to have returned to their starting point again, a new idea or concept is needed to address current difficulties, so as to make a new breakthrough despite difficulties and to upgrade the Sino-US military relations to a new height.

China and the United States are two of the world's most important countries, and their military ties is the world's most important bilateral military relationship. Consequently, China and the U.S. have ample good reasons that go beyond the huge differences and obstacles between them, but they should also go beyond the narrow perception of shortsightedness and partial interests and look forward to long-term strategic perspective in future, increase their mutual trust and carry on their sincere cooperation.

Only in this way, can China and the United States complement each other and make unprecedented contributions to world peace and stability, to the humanity's progress and prosperity. China's rapid development and policy of peace have once again provided both countries with such a rare historical opportunity to remake history and attain mutual benefit and a win-win progress.

By People's Daily Online and its author is Wang Xinjun, a research fellow of warring theory and strategy at the PLA Academy of Military Sciences.


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