US exposes weak side in S.China Sea spat

Source:Global Times Published: 2015-11-4 0:38:02

High-level military officials from China and the US met Tuesday at different venues. China's Defense Minister Chang Wanquan held talks with his US counterpart Ashton Carter in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, while in Beijing, vice-chairman of China's Central Military Commission Fan Changlong, and Fang Fenghui, Chief of General Staff of the Chinese People's Liberation Army, met with Admiral Harry Harris, commander of US forces in the Pacific. The South China Sea issue is undoubtedly high on their agenda and the US side is making its intentions evident. 

The high-profile US patrols in the South China Sea are aimed squarely at China's land reclamation, but the US military no longer dwells on criticizing China over it. As neither Carter nor Harris publicly questioned the legitimacy of the construction, it means that the US has realized it is unable to stop China from building islands in the waters.

Besides, the US insists on its rights to exercise freedom of navigation whenever and wherever allowed under international law, and Harris showed optimism about the US and China avoiding military conflicts. This may imply that the US will continue its patrols in the South China Sea and yet doesn't intend to make exceptionally provocative moves toward China's man-made islands.

Moreover, the US will continue to reject the existence of the nine-dash line in the South China Sea. An anonymous US defense official said Monday that the US Navy plans to conduct patrols within 12 nautical miles of artificial islands in the South China Sea about twice a quarter. 

The US patrols in the South China Sea have diplomatic implications and aim at putting mental pressure on China, but are of limited military significance. Washington understands its limited capacity to coerce China in the waters and attempts to cover up the reality of its relative disadvantage there.

China needs to be more confident and grasp the initiative when coping with the US over the waters.

To this end, Chinese authorities first need to take the moral high ground by stressing that tensions should be eased through negotiations.

Besides, China has to continue to build islands as planned. When completed, the construction work will largely secure China's triumph against the US. As the US conducts more frequent, larger patrols, China can send more naval vessels to the waters and speed up military deployment on the artificial islands to be fully capable of countering the US provocations.

Nonetheless, China has to work with the US to form a mechanism to avoid clashes and prepare to be resilient enough in case of clashes.

The Chinese government should put more faith in how rational the public can be at critical moments and take measures as reality demands. Completing island-construction in the South China Sea concerns China's strategic interests in the long run. We have to be united to manifest our firm determination to the US and urge it to regard the waters more realistically.

Posted in: Editorial

blog comments powered by Disqus