Again it was a near thing according to the narrative of the US military: a Chinese jet fighter made "dangerous" passes at a US navy plane. The US Deputy Security Advisor Ben Rhodes said what the Chinese jet did was "obviously deeply concerning provocation". But the real question is what were US navy planes were doing near China's territorial space?
They were on a reconnaissance mission. And everyone knows what such missions are for.
The deputy security advisor said that the United States has encouraged constructive military-to-military ties with China and what the Chinese jet did violates the spirit of that engagement.
Are the frequent surveillance missions conducted by the US navy ships and aircrafts near the China's waters and air space constructive to the development of military ties between the two countries?
Everyone knows the answer to this question.
Relations between the world's largest developed country and its developing counterpart are not just important to the development of both countries and the well-being of both peoples. They are also of relevance to regional stability and world peace.
The political systems are different in both countries, but that does not necessarily mean that they should consider each other as an enemy.
How to manage their differences and develop the new type of relations proposed by Chinese President Xi Jinping and US President Barack Obama during their Sunnylands meeting in June, 2013 in California, is an issue that requires serious thinking and earnest action on both sides.
Mutual trust is the foundation of all good relations in the world. However, the constant and frequent reconnaissance missions that US naval vessels and planes have been conducting near China's coastal waters and airspace do nothing to convince the Chinese authorities and the Chinese people that the US is sincere in claiming it wants to build mutual trust with China. Neither does the US' rebalancing of its military might to Asia suggest a friendly approach.
China is far behind the United States when it comes to military power and Chinese leaders have reiterated on numerous occasions China's commitment to a peaceful rise. There is no need for the US to worry that China will become a threat to its world leader status unless it has the psychological need to create an enemy to make up for its sense of loss after the end of the Cold War.
And unless the US gives up its reconnaissance missions against China it will be very difficult for the two countries to build the mutual trust needed for healthy bilateral relations.