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Commentary: US should not challenge China’s bottom line in South China Sea issue

By Zhong Sheng (People's Daily)    10:36, July 07, 2016

A dialogue on the South China Sea between Chinese and US think tanks was held in Washington DC on Tuesday. The dialogue came at the right time as political forces of the US and the Philippines are now meddling in the waters of the South China Sea.

The dialogue not only told the US strategists China’s resolution and capability to defend its own interests and rights, but also demanded they reconsider the US’ position on the South China Sea issue.

As a country outside the region, the US is not directly concerned with the South China Sea issue. But in the last few years, the US has been aggravating the tension in the area by using the South China Sea issue as a tool to achieve its own strategic interests.

After then US Secretary of State proclaimed the country's re-entry into Asia-Pacific in 2009, senior US officials have been hyping the South China Sea issue on different occasions and pointing fingers at China’s claims. They even instigated regional countries including the Philippines to make troubles for China.

For instance, freedom of navigation in the South China Sea is not a problem, but the US has labeled it one for its own interests. The Pentagon even flexed its military muscle by deploying aircraft carriers, strategic bombers and missile destroyers.

What the US did greatly increased risks in the region, but it at the same time cemented China’s determination and capability to safeguard its own interests and rights. The US must bear this fact in mind.

The dialogue also focused on how to prevent the South China Sea issue from dominating the China-US ties and generating a “negative spillover effect.”

At this time, the US must reevaluate its South China Sea policy with the big picture of China-US ties in mind.

China hopes the US can make a rational choice between risk control and brinkmanship, but at the same time China is also well prepared for any risky actions the US might take. A wise choice for the US would be to play a constructive role in the South China Sea issue.

For a long time, China has been developing Sino-US relations with a long-term and strategic view, and committed itself to managing divergences in a constructive manner.

In the Asia-Pacific region where the two countries share common interests, China is also willing to work with the US to defend regional stability and prosperity by building an inclusive “friendship network” together.

However, if the US sticks to its brinkmanship, it will possibly accelerate the tension in the South China Sea.

China has rock-solid determination to safeguard its sovereignty and territory. It will not ask for anything that doesn’t belong to it, but will fight for every inch of its territory within its sovereignty.

Michael Swaine, a senior researcher with Carnegie Endowment for International Peace once wrote in an article that the ongoing dispute over the South China Sea threatens to drive China-US relations permanently in a far more adversarial, zero-sum direction and destabilize the region.

His words are not sensational given the regional influence of both China and the US. The risky actions of the US may bring temporary sensations, but it will definitely pay the price once it crosses the bottom line drawn by China. 

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

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