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Commentary: Cold War mentality should be abandoned when it comes to China-US military ties

By Zhang Junshe (People's Daily Online)    16:39, June 06, 2016

The military relationship between China and the U.S. dominated discussion during the 15th Shangri-la Dialogue, which kicked off last Friday in Singapore.

During the three-day summit, about 600 military chiefs and officials, as well as experts and scholars from around 30 different countries, gathered in Singapore to discuss regional security and other related topics.

In a keynote speech delivered on Saturday, U.S. Defense Secretary Ashton Carter said China could end up erecting a “Great Wall of self-isolation.” His remarks were received by many people as a nod to the Cold War mentality.

As a senior U.S. official, Carter’s mindset is doing no favors for the productive development of China-U.S. relations. A healthy and stable military relationship plays a big role in bilateral ties, so this type of Cold War thinking is not helpful as the two sides strive to improve their relations.

Since Chinese and American heads of state met at the Annenberg Estate three years ago, bilateral military relations have had decent momentum. For example, the two countries established a mutual report mechanism for major military actions, and formulated the Rules of Behavior for Safety of Air and Maritime Encounters. These measures represent a historic step forward in the development of mutual trust.

In 2014, the Chinese navy was invited to join the Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC) naval drill, which is organized by the U.S. navy, for the first time. Five Chinese navy fleets will join RIMPAC again this year. Nevertheless, a lack of mutual trust still hinders the development of a stable military relationship, and the U.S. is the party at fault.

First of all, the U.S. is still skeptical of routine Chinese military developments. In addition, the U.S. does not respect China's core interests and concerns. U.S. arms sales to Taiwan, close monitoring by U.S. aircraft and vessels, and discriminatory laws against China have all long hindered China-U.S. relations.

Instead of solving those problems, the U.S. has taken counterproductive measures. For instance, the recent "freedom of navigation operation" launched by the U.S. near China’s Nansha and Xisha Islands has severely affected mutual military trust. Moreover, some individuals in the U.S. government, military and think tanks are still aiming to contain China. Many of these people are single-mindedly focused on alliance-based containment policies that hark back to the Cold War.

As the largest developing and developed countries, China and the U.S. both shoulder responsibility for peace, stability and prosperity around the world. A sound military relationship is not only in the best interest of the two peoples, it is also important to many other countries. During the three-day Shangri-la Dialogue, a number of leaders expressed dissatisfaction with current relations between China and the U.S., and few were willing to take sides.

China and the U.S. should not be blinded by self-interest. Instead, they should seek common ground and pursue mutually beneficial cooperation. The Pacific Ocean is large enough to accommodate both China and the U.S. As the heads of state of both nations agreed, China and the U.S. should deal with disputes in the spirit of "respect, mutual trust, equality and reciprocity."

Doing so will help to build a sound and stable bilateral military relationship, which will greatly benefit regional and global security.

(The author is a researcher with China's Naval Research Institute.)

Thus article was edited and translated from 中美两军关系需防遏华思维作梗(望海楼), Source: People's Daily

(For the latest China news, Please follow People's Daily on Twitter and Facebook)(Editor:Hongyu,Bianji)

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