A new framework for Sino-US ties needed

13:54, October 27, 2009      

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This is the first trip by a senior Chinese military officer to the US after President Barack Obama took over and it signals China's consistent efforts to work for the sound development of Sino-US military ties.

The "wooden barrel theory" shows that the capacity of a barrel is determined not by the longest wooden bar, but by the shortest. For a long time, Sino-US military ties were always the most sensitive factor, as well as the "shortest bar", in the overall bilateral relations.

The cool military ties not only lagged the vigorous momentum in other fields but also could not bridge the ever-increasing common security interests the two world powers shared. Even though bilateral ties were sound, relations between the two armies were the last to thaw.

If two-way ties become frustrated, military exchanges too would suffer.

It is not China, but the US that is to blame for the twisted and fluctuating relations witnessed by the two countries over a long period. More than two decades have passed since the end of the Cold War and the world has witnessed earthshaking changes.

However, the US has not abandoned its outdated "Cold War" mentality. Along with the acceleration of the pace of economic globalization, a structurally interdependent relationship has formed and continues to deepen, resulting in a "community of shared interests" by the two sides.

Beijing and Washington are today facing more and more common security challenges, shared security interests and responsibilities, ranging from combating terrorism, religious extremism and national separatism to coping with the global financial crisis, global climate change, preventing the proliferation of Weapons of Mass Destruction as well as dealing with regional hotspots.

The US, by itself, cannot afford to address all these international or regional issues, which can only be resolved through multilateral cooperation among the parties concerned, including China and the US.

It is regrettable that there are some people in the US who refuse to give up their "Cold War" and "zero-sum" mentalities, and move with the times to engage in win-win cooperation.

The US has been for long resorting to a hedging strategy: Engaging with China even as it never abandons its containment policy. It has also been challenging China's core interests in major issues concerning national sovereignty and territorial integrity, including in its arms sales to Taiwan. This is the reason why bilateral military ties have neither been long-term nor stable.

According to a Washington Post report dated Oct 15, President Obama has expressed his goodwill and support to improving and strengthening the relationship between the two armies. He is scheduled to visit China for the first time next month.

We sincerely welcome such a positive stance. Michael Schiffer, deputy assistant secretary of defense for East Asia, has also been quoted in the same report as saying that the two armies would engage and communicate more often even though there is no proper mechanism yet to help the two sides clear misunderstandings.

Compared with the "proper mechanism", which is certainly necessary, a new security mentality is of greater significance. If the outdated security mentality still prevails in the US, no matter how proper the mechanism is, it will be unhelpful for establishing sound bilateral military relations.

The visit by Xu Caihou will mainly focus on strategic dialogue, which has been properly identified as the crux of the problem and indicates China's sincerity to warm bilateral military ties. The visit not only concentrates on dealing with issues of common interest but also attempts to construct a brand-new framework of Sino-US military ties beyond the "Cold War" mentality in an era of globalization.

We hope the new framework will make Sino-US military ties adaptable to the growing interdependence of bilateral strategic interests and help the two-way military ties become an important pillar in the sound development of overall Sino-US relations.

Source: China Daily
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