Risk management key to peace at sea

Source:Global Times Published: 2016/8/8 0:08:48

The sudden growing presence of Chinese coast guard ships and fishing boats around the disputed Diaoyu Islands in the East China Sea has incurred protests and complaints from Japan.

Japan has also protested over the installation of a small radar on a Chinese oil rig in the East China Sea. Japanese media has shown concerns that China might upgrade to more powerful air surveillance radar systems in the future. Meanwhile, China has arranged a patrol carried out by various fighter jets and bombers over the South China Sea. The Chinese air force said the patrols will become routine.

Be it the Diaoyu Islands or the archipelago within the nine-dash line in the South China Sea, China has legitimate rights to explore these regions and conduct military moves because they are China's inherent territories. There is no compromise to this fundamental principle, especially in face of outside pressures.

The provocating countries should expect China's countermeasures. If they do the same and escalate tensions, they shouldn't be surprised by China's actions. Now China only sends a few planes on combat patrols in the South China Sea, but as more challenges emerge, it could deploy powerful military equipment on the islands it controls and transform them into military outposts to counter threats.

If other countries respect China's rights and have no intention of posing a threat to China, then China is more than willing to cool down the tensions, and cooperate with other stakeholders to establish a new stable order.

After the farce of Japan trying to "nationalize" the Diaoyu Islands in 2012, the vulnerable regional balance was broken. China has set up routine patrols around the islands and consistently sailed into their 12 nautical miles of territorial waters. Both sides are now stuck in a predicament, and neither side can prevail over the other.

China, the US and Japan are the three major players in this maritime game in the West Pacific. None of them are really into bellicosity. But China and the US-Japan alliance are worried about each other trying to gain the upper hand by resorting to military prowess. There could be some misunderstandings, and they all should reduce the strategic mistrust between each other.

China is the biggest rising power, but the Chinese people have a limited perspective about how much initiative China can take in the global landscape, and they are inclined to overestimate the pressures China face. Meanwhile, the US-Japan alliance is so militarily prominent that they could encircle China, but they keep hyping up China's military threat.

After the intense squabbles over the arbitration, the most critical and urgent business for all regional stakeholders is to manage risks and control crises. The US and Japan shouldn't deliberately misinterpret China's moves in the East and South China Seas, but should give more deep thoughts about what role they can play to maintain regional stability.


Posted in: Editorial

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