International ties

How to resolve tensions around China

By John Milligan-Whyte and Dai Min (
Updated: 2010-10-19 09:37
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Editor's note: The views expressed in this article are those of the author and may not necessarily represent the views of, and should not be attributed to, the China Daily website.

China is being manipulated into conflicts it does not want with Japan and other Asian nations that are designed to make China look aggressive. Why would Secretary of State Clinton involve America suddenly in long standing peaceful South China Sea sovereignty issues? Why would Japan, which has had 5 prime ministers in the last 3 years, endanger its fragile economy and trade with its major trading partner by starting to arrest Chinese fishermen? China must not allow itself to be provoked into changing it's successful economic, foreign and defense policies. But if it does not react to events, it invites escalating events that cannot be ignored and resulting domestic unrest calling for a more aggressive Chinese economic, foreign and defense policies.

China is economically successful, socially and politically stable and at peace globally because it implements Deng Xiaoping's policies of opening up to foreign investment to create sustained growth during six US president's administrations. But China's success depends upon it unilaterally implementing under three generations of Chinese leaders the Principles of Peaceful Coexistence with all other foreign nations that the US enshrined in the UN Charter. As long as China continues to implement Deng's policies it will remain the world's main engine of economic recovery and continue to pull hundreds of millions of people out of poverty.

How can China end America's relentless 60-year-old policies of arming Taiwan? Deng Xiaoping's policy is to let time take care of currently irresolvable disputes. Chinese leaders will be successful in reaching out and securing the opportunity for a breakthrough that exists today, because China broke off military exchanges due to new US weapons sales to Taiwan. Subsequent leaders can continue the understanding. Half a century after the Cuban Missile Crisis almost escalated into World War III, Cuba has never been invaded. America has not relented in its regime change policies toward Cuba. But President Kennedy agreed with General Secretary Khrushchev that America would never invade Cuba. As a result the USSR stopped dangerously arming Cuba's reaction to America's regime change policies.

What can China do about American and South Korean continuous naval exercises each month projecting America's military power in the Yellow Sea? Deng Xiaoping's policy is that China should be unaligned in hostilities between nations, and always aligned with peaceful coexistence. China broke off military exchanges in reaction to the Obama administration's sale of military equipment to Taiwan when cross-Straits relations are improving. Now the Obama administration very much wants such military cooperation and exchanges. China should return to peaceful coexistence protecting policies. How? China's navy should join the American and South Korean naval exercises in the Yellow Sea. China also should continue to take a neutral position on the regional disputes such as the recent warship sinking event of South Korea.

What can China do about having jurisdictional disputes with its neighboring countries which have now been complicated by China and America asserting conflicting "vital national interests" in the South China Sea? How can China put jurisdictional disputes back into their normal peaceful mode? China and the nations that it has jurisdictional disputes with can form a joint development corporation called "South China Sea Joint Development Corporation" to economically develop the disputed areas peacefully. It is easier to negotiate the size of each participating nation's investments, responsibilities and share of the profits of such a corporation with multinational win-win policies. The joint development corporation approach avoids the zero sum game ownership disputes during which no nation can safely develop the economic benefits nor safe guard its national pride and interests in the disputed areas.

On February 22, 1984 Deng Xiaoping discussed what now for decades have been China's successful solutions to the Taiwan and Hong Kong sovereignty issues with the Center for Strategic and International Studies. He said, "I have also considered the possibility of resolving certain territorial disputes by having the countries concerned jointly develop the disputed areas before discussing the question of sovereignty. New approaches should be sought to solve such problems according to realities."

Nowadays, The Center for Strategic and International Studies and other leading American think tanks should carry out the study Deng's proposal and present it to American policymakers and the American people. The Center for America-China Partnership and leading Chinese think tanks will help it do so.


How to resolve tensions around China

John Milligan-Whyte is the chairman and Dai Min is the president of the Center for America-China Partnership, an American think-tank studying Sino-US relations. They can be reached at