Strategies for harmony between militaries of China, US

16:28, May 17, 2011      

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General Chen Bingde, chief of the general staff of the Chinese People's Liberation Army (PLA), is on a weeklong official visit to the United States. His visit is not only an important event in the exchange between the two armies but also a significant link in the active interaction between the two countries in the new situation.

The direction in which the Sino-U.S. relationship develops has transcended the scope of bilateral relations. It has a direct bearing on the security, stability and prosperity of the Asia-Pacific region and even an immeasurable impact on the future of the entire world.

Chinese President Hu Jintao visited the United States in early 2011, injecting new vigor into bilateral relations. The presidents of the two countries agreed to build a cooperative partnership based on mutual respect and mutual benefit, leading the way for the development of China-U.S. relations. In order to make sure that military ties are a contributor rather than an obstacle to bilateral relations, strategists from both sides should view China-U.S. military relations from a new strategic perspective.

China and the United States are sharing more and more common interests. The cooperative partnership is not a reward granted by one side to the other, but is the fruit of common interests. Cooperation benefits both sides, while confrontation can only hurt. Neither of the two countries can afford confrontation.

It is worth noting that the military ties between the two countries lag far behind their relations in other fields partially because the Chinese and U.S. militaries still lack strategic mutual trust.

China's growing economic strength, along with its accelerated pace of military modernization, have caused the United States to be more concerned with the rise of China's military power as well as its strategic intentions in exercising that power.

The United States has implemented its "return to Asia" strategy to hedge its bets and expects China to actively cooperate with them on major regional and global issues while taking practical steps to target China.

It is unfair for the United States, with its unrivaled military power, to regard China as a threat using the excuse of the lack of transparency in military modernization, which is also harmful to the sound interaction between the two country's military forces.

If the Chinese and U.S. militaries cannot break out of the vicious circle of suspecting and guarding against each other, they will inevitably fall into the "security trap." Therefore, it is imperative to maintain smooth exchanges between the two military forces. To maintain the stable and strategic exchanges between the two militaries, the structural obstacles to the normalization of relations between the two military forces must be removed.

The negative attitude adopted by the United States towards China in traditional security fields, such as banning all exchange projects that can enhance the modernization capabilities of the PLA and carrying out "point-blank" surveillance of military aircraft and warships in China's coastal areas, is a major obstacle to the normalization of relations between the two military forces. The Taiwan issue in particular has always been the biggest and most dangerous obstacle to the stable development of relations between the two parties.

The ups and downs of China-U.S. military exchanges are harmful to the steady development of the relations between the two militaries. In order to prevent the occurrence of this phenomenon, the United States must be more considerate of the Chinese people's feelings on the Taiwan issue.

In this sense, the United States holds the key to preventing the instability of China-U.S. military relations. In order to safeguard the fundamental interests of the Chinese people as well as regional and world peace, China is willing to maintain healthy and stable military relations with the United States but not "endure humiliation" on issues related to its core national interests.

Therefore, China hopes the U.S. government, especially the military leaders of the United States, can take concrete actions to avoid creating obstacles to the positive interaction of China-U.S. military relations.

Promoting China-U.S. military relations requires high-level exchange visits and effective cooperation. China and the United States should open arms to each other and make efforts to promote cooperation in dealing with non-traditional security threats and challenges along with actions of safeguarding regional security, stability and prosperity step by step. The naval forces of the two countries should also launch cooperation in safeguarding smooth and safe maritime lanes and combating transnational crimes such as piracy, smuggling and drug trafficking.

China and the United States will be able to develop military relations that match mutual respect, mutual benefit and a win-win partnership if they regard the China-U.S. military relationship from new strategic perspectives.

By Yang Yi, research fellow with the National Defense University, translated by People's Daily Online
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