Why missing sailor arouses vigilance against aggression

Source:Global Times Published: 2017/8/3 23:08:39

A US sailor was reported missing from the USS Stethem destroyer, approximately 225 kilometers west of Subic Bay in the Philippines, in the South China Sea around 9 am Tuesday. American and Japanese ships and aircraft are jointly searching for the sailor.

The Stethem sailed within 12 nautical miles of Zhongjian Island in the waters off the Xisha Islands under the excuse of "freedom of navigation (FON)" last month, which the Chinese side strongly protested.

Many Chinese netizens associated the US-Japan joint search in the South China Sea with the Lugouqiao Incident in 1937 when Japan launched an all-out offensive against China after their request to search for a missing Japanese soldier was refused.

Today's geopolitics and the balance of power are completely different from that in 1937. A war is unlikely in the South China Sea at present, and the US and Japan are not resolved to wage a war against China either. The search for the missing US sailor is highly unlikely to evolve into the overture of the "South China Sea Incident."

In June, a US sailor who was reported missing from the US cruiser USS Shiloh near Okinawa was later found hiding in the ship's engine room after a massive search, and is suspected to be suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder. The sailor on the Stethem may have experienced a similar situation.

However, Chinese netizens' vigilance to the search has deep-rooted reasons, and this deserves high attention from the US. The connections to the Lugouqiao incident are especially popular among netizens who don't understand the Beijing-Washington relationship. This demonstrates that the US' diplomatic image is much worse in China, and it is not strange to compare the US with militaristic Japan.

For most Chinese people, Washington's patrols in the South China Sea aim to play geopolitical games and make trouble for China. We need to remind the US Navy that their search should not harm China's sovereignty and rights in the South China Sea and shouldn't be used as an excuse to jeopardize China's security. If it needs humanitarian support from Beijing, Washington can communicate via military-to-military channels.

Generally speaking, tensions in the South China Sea are easing. Progress has been made in the Code of Conduct negotiations; China and the Philippines restored friendly ties; China and Vietnam have the capability to peacefully settle disputes. The South China Sea uncertainties come from exterior interventions, and the US is the source of strategic unease.

We hope the missing sailor is found safe, and the South China Sea situation remains calm. President Trump approved a package of proposals for US FON operations earlier this year, and the US Navy is becoming more influential in Sino-US ties. We hope the US military won't lead Beijing-Washington relations into confrontation.

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