Do not misread US port visit refusal

Source:Global Times Published: 2016-5-4 0:41:50

A US aircraft carrier, the USS John C Stennis and four accompanying vessels was scheduled to make a five-day port stay in Hong Kong from Tuesday. Yet Washington claimed on Friday that Beijing had turned down its request for entry, noting that no official reason has yet been provided.

After Hong Kong returned to China in 1997, US navy ships continued their frequent visits to the special administrative region, but each must be approved by Beijing. Most have been given permission over the years, and there were only a few refusals, which happened when there was a chill in Sino-US ties.

Normally, China does not articulate its reasons, and this has been considered as a diplomatic gesture of expressing its dissatisfaction as well as taking the bilateral divergences under control.

A few US warships being denied entry to Hong Kong should be of no consequence to Beijing and Washington. Over the past few years, the Pentagon has played a series of tricks against China, creating quite an unpleasant atmosphere between the two sides. Were they big deals or simply small issues?

Perhaps when we look back, we will see they were all trifles. As long as the big picture of Beijing-Washington ties is stable, both countries wish for development and cooperation instead of confrontation, the respective militaries will not cross the bottom line of one another, then the US' blowhard performance will turn out to be only a show for the media.

Nevertheless, those small issues can also develop into a prelude of a major event. Today, every detail of the interactions between China and the US has been written down in history, and they are endowed with special significance - strategic confrontation between the two is gradually becoming a trend, while each and every move from the two are the process of this awful tendency.

The future is full of uncertainty. What the nature of Sino-US relationship will be going forward in the 21st century will be determined by the accumulation of many trifles that happened today. 

The US Pacific Fleet has now become the biggest source of such a pessimistic mentality for both countries. While they have become accustomed to controversies such as human rights, trade frictions and diplomatic divergences on hot spots, the US abruptly started its menacing military deployment against China's offshore interests, showcasing its military muscle by sending naval vessels and warplanes to China. That seems to be changing the nature of the Sino-US frictions. Due to the severe strategic suspicions, military problems have unprecedentedly emerged between the two.

The game between China and the US should be limited to diplomats and public figures, who have enough cards to play. The US military should keep its distance from the area of Beijing's core interests.

Neither US voyages nor the Philippines-raised South China Sea arbitration works for Beijing. This is not because China is growing tougher, but because the White House has touched China's bottom line. Washington should now reflect on this.

Posted in: Editorial

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