Opinion / Editorials

US actions danger to itself

(China Daily) Updated: 2016-03-21 07:08

US actions danger to itself

US Secretary of State John Kerry (R) and Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi shake hands at a joint news conference after their meeting at the State Department in Washington, February 23, 2016. [Photo/Agencies]

Admiral Scott Swift, Commander of the US Pacific Fleet, told a conference on Indo-Pacific maritime security in Australia on Wednesday that an attitude of "might makes right" was returning to the South China Sea and sailing US warships through contested areas in the region was "not a naval issue" but a move aimed at ensuring freedom of navigation.

Although he did not mention China by name, Swift denounced "land reclamation and deployment of land-to-air missiles" as moves designed to change the established order.

If the US military presence in South China Sea is only aimed at ensuring freedom of navigation as Swift claimed, then it has a shared interest with China, given that it is China's consistent stance that it supports freedom of navigation in the waters.

The fact is the US has returned to the South China Sea under its strategy of rebalancing to the Asia-Pacific and is seeking to drive wedges between China and its neighbors in a bid to curb China's rise. This is an open secret not only in Southeast Asia and Australia, but also in the US itself.

However, there is a serious and practical problem for the US: how far is it prepared to go in mobilizing its military muscles to threaten China in the South China Sea?

Washington should know that the more provocative moves it makes against China, the more counter-measures Beijing will take. Such an undesirable cycle may push both sides nearer confrontation and cause both to prepare for the worst-case scenario, potentially making it self-fulfilling.

The realization of mutual respect between China and the US cannot be built on Beijing making unilateral concessions to Washington, but built on its strong national strength, its military strength in particular. The US should know that any actions that endanger China's security would also make it unsecure in the region.

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