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Guardrails meaningless if US resorts to its might to enforce its will on others: China Daily editorial | Updated: 2022-06-12 19:34
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US Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin speaks at the First Plenary Session of the 19th Shangri-La Dialogue in Singapore June 11, 2022. [Photo/Agencies]

US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin's speech at the 19th Shangri-La Dialogue on Saturday in Singapore once again highlighted the Joe Biden administration's immediate regional objective.

Although the US defense chief acknowledged that in today's interwoven world "we're stronger when we find ways to come together", for the US administration that is evidently not a universal proposition.

Austin came to the security conference not with the aim of bridging differences but with the intention of rallying countries around the US' "Indo-Pacific Strategy" targeting China.

Despite saying that countries are feeling the headwinds, "from threats, and intimidation, and the obsolete belief in a world carved up into spheres of influence", his speech was yet another manifestation of these.

Rather than being candid about the challenges that the world faces, he chose to ignore the unruly starred-and-striped elephant that is in the room.

If, as he said, the Biden administration wants to hold to account those responsible for breaching "our (collective) freedom, security and sovereignty", then it should first hold the US accountable, as it arrogates to itself the authority to define a nation's true interests, even if that authority has to be claimed by force.

It is the constant political intimidation, economic coercion and harassment of China by the US, and the cliques in which it wields influence, that are creating disruptions that harm all countries in the region and threaten regional peace and stability.

In his meeting with Austin on the sidelines of the security forum on Friday, State Councilor and Defense Minister Wei Fenghe urged the US to adopt a rational perspective on China's development.

Without genuine recognition and respect from the US for China's legitimate development needs and core interests, there will always be the risk of a disastrous head-on confrontation between the two countries.

The US, believing the world to be its oyster, has shown no hesitation in trying to run roughshod over China's interests in a wide range of fields. China understandably will not sit idle and allow it to do so.

Austin said in Singapore that he hoped that coming out of the pandemic that there would be a broader perspective on what lasting security means in the 21st century, saying that "we stand together at a moment that carries the promise of renewal".

That hope should first and foremost apply to the US, which is always too ready to resort to its might in a bid to enforce its will rather than find a way to meet countries half way, since that would involve making concessions.

Unless Washington demonstrates it is sincere in its claims that it wants to properly handle the differences with Beijing and works to build the guardrails it says are needed to prevent relations veering into a head-on collision, the promise of renewal will not ring true.

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