Washington losing leverage in S.China Sea

Source:Global Times Published: 2015-11-11 0:38:01

Assistant US Secretary of State Daniel Russel said recently that China wants the US to give it a "free pass" on issues that China considers its "core interests," and that's just not a deal that the US "ever can or would make." US Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter recently played tough and called China and Russia potential threats to the world. He said the US has been shifting its focus toward the Asia-Pacific, including sending its best naval and other military weapons, ships and equipment to that region.

Russel is primarily referring to the South China Sea. Yet Chinese have mostly been numbed by the frequent US shifts between cooperation and threat. We think that US officials have to keep adjusting the tone on the South China Sea issue for multiple reasons, particularly to play diplomatic tricks in Asia.  Chinese have been regarding the US in the South China Sea as a paper tiger. We are convinced that the US warship patrol is for symbolic posture, not for taking real action toward China's island building. Washington actually has lost points after its latest move in the South China Sea.

We have come to the point when the US cannot stop China's island reclamation while China cannot stop US patrols. But China will have a larger military presence as a result of US provocation. Then which side actually gains more?

With fewer cards to play with China, the US intends to turn the South China Sea into a new card to upset China, which however will fail. China can ignore or simply protest the petty US actions and get its growing military prowess ready for other major moves.

China doesn't fear that the US deploys its cutting-edge military equipment to the Asia-Pacific. China is developing sophisticated weaponry and people support the military spending growing at over 10 percent annually so as to well-equip the Chinese army in dealing with threats from the US' "best" weapons.

If military tension breaks out in the Asia-Pacific between China and the US, which will deploy its sophisticated military equipment, the tension will probably extend to US military bases in remote places, even to its home soil, since China will also deploy its advanced weapon systems.

It is difficult for the South China Sea issue to become a prime bargaining chip for Washington to deal with Beijing. Last week in Kuala Lumpur, many defense ministers from ASEAN countries refused to be railroaded by the US into releasing a joint statement that included content on the South China Sea. Washington should be aware how far its leverage goes on the issue. 

China has always stressed Sino-US cooperation to avoid conflicts between the two, but besides, it has other preparations. Therefore we build islands in the South China Sea as international law allows, regardless of US opposition.

Posted in: Editorial

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