US' provocative moves will not solve its problems
The United States has been putting immense pressure on China by imposing economic restrictions and increasing military presence in and around the South China Sea, East China Sea, and the Taiwan Strait, sending regional security into a vicious spiral.
First, the US has been trying all means possible to contain China. The US knows that a stable peripheral security environment is necessary for a country's development. That's why it has been stirring up more and more troubles in the Asia-Pacific region by taking overt and covert measures against China and forming security alliances with some countries in the region with the aim of curbing China's rise.
China has major strategic interests in the East China Sea, South China Sea and the Taiwan Strait including safeguarding its sovereignty and territorial integrity. Using the East and South China Seas issues and the Taiwan question, the US is trying to destabilize the region in order to force China to exhaust its resources to deal with the US-created troubles.
Second, the strategic pressure in the three territorial waters of China may stress out the country. Yet geo-advantages will help China overcome the stress unlike what the US expects to see.
True, the use of resources to counter the US will increase the burden on China. But China has worked out a long-term plan to prevent the US from manipulating countries in the region and ensure Washington's geopolitical strategy in the region doesn't succeed.
Also, China's growing national strength has made it more confident of safeguarding its national interests. In contrast, the US will have to keep spending increasing amounts of money, which at present it cannot afford to, to further its nefarious design of forming anti-China cliques in the region to contain China. Besides, the impacts of the US strategy will wane with the passage of time.
Third, some US politicians are playing a dangerous game by pushing for "a war between China and the US" by calling for increased US activities in China's waters. But despite the US' multiple miscalculations deteriorating China-US ties, bilateral strategic stability has been maintained, with the two sides showing a certain amount of restraint.
China-US relations have reached a crossroad. In this delicate situation, the bellicose statements of some US politicians, including some senior military officials, and their call for military buildup in the region before 2025 reflect their hostility toward China.
If the US escalates its military activities in the region, China will be forced to respond in a bid to safeguard its sovereignty and territorial integrity and development interests. Since the US knows China will take decisive measures to safeguard its national interests, Washington's belligerent strategies will not do any good to any country, including the US and its allies.
For the sake of regional and global stability and development, the US should eschew its geopolitical strategy in the Asia-Pacific. By embroiling other countries in its geopolitical game to maintain its global hegemony, the US will cause itself unimaginable harm. And countries and regions falling into the US trap risk suffering self-inflicted damage. That is the reason why US President Joe Biden said the US seeks to vigorously compete with China, not seek conflict.
If the White House is aware of the global disaster a Sino-US conflict would be, it should seek common ground while shelving differences, and hold negotiations to resolve disputes with China instead of taking aggressive actions.
It is normal for countries to compete with each other, but they should avoid confrontation. However, the US' efforts to turn China's territorial waters into a zone of contention have hindered communication between the two sides.
China follows the peaceful development principle, because it is beneficial to the Chinese people's well-being, and promotes co-development with other countries. China will continue to make contributions to global economic growth, and avoid the "Thucydides trap" unless the US forces it into a conflict. Therefore, the US would do better to stop treating China as a geopolitical rival, because China doesn't seek hegemony.
The US' provocative strategies such as increased military presence in China's waters will not help resolve the differences and disputes between the two sides. Instead, they will further deteriorate bilateral relations, possibly leading to a grave crisis. In short, China and the US need to hold talks to resolve their disputes, seek common ground while shelving differences, and establish effective crisis management mechanisms to prevent miscalculations from triggering a conflict.
The author is the director of the academic council and a senior research fellow at the Shanghai Center for RimPac Strategic and International Studies.
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