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(China Daily)
Updated: 2009-11-18 07:50

Promote neighborly goodwill

Comment on "Another view on nuclear-free DPRK" (Page 8, Nov 5)

In Xu Jiaqing's letter involving the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK), he made an interesting point that invites further comment. Xu wrote that, "the US might not intend to resolve the nuclear issue in a short period of time, because this unresolved issue provides the US with the excuse to strengthen its relationship with Japan and the Republic of Korea, [and]maintain its long term military presence in the region".

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There is little doubt that Xu's observations are correct but the DPRK nuclear issue is not the only one the US relies on to maintain its military presence in the region. There is, of course, the so-called "China threat" claim made by the US State Department that is used to justify selling military weapons to Taiwan, even though relations between the mainland and the island have improved remarkably over the past year.

Also of concern to China would be how the "China threat" feeds into tensions with Japan, Vietnam, the Philippines, Malaysia and Brunei and their claims to sovereignty over islands in the South China Sea as well as the oil drilling and fishing rights and the sea-lanes that pass through them.

Just as US power and influence has waned in Europe ever since the founding of the EU, so would the US' regional influence be severely eroded should the idea of creating an East Asian Community be realized. The major stumbling block to the creation of an East Asian Community, however, is the many territorial disputes over these islands and not the DPRK nuclear issue.

In order to undermine Washington's claim of a "China threat" and to promote neighborly goodwill without yielding its position on sovereignty, China might like to consider sea-lane access and minority stakeholder rights to other claimants in regard to resources.

Such a gesture of goodwill would undermine the plausibility of the so-called "China threat", remove the need for a US military presence in the region and lay the ground for the successful founding of an East Asian Community. It would also serve to remove any lingering doubts regarding China's long-term ambitions among members of the ASEAN.

Dr Ross Grainger

via e-mail

(China Daily 11/18/2009 page8)