US wants to review China-US military interactions, portraying the bully as an aggrieved, innocent side
Published: Jul 19, 2022 07:35 PM
Illustration:Chen Xia/GT

Illustration:Chen Xia/GT

Mark Milley, chairman of the US Joint Chief of Staff, has ordered a "comprehensive review of US-China military interactions," as "concerns about Beijing's assertive behavior increases," CNN reported on Monday. On Tuesday, NBC News also covered the case with more detail, saying the US top general ordered his staff to gather information on every interaction between China and the US "in the South China Sea and beyond." 

Yes, the encounters took place in the South China Sea and nearby waters, not in Hawaii, nor in American coastal waters, but just on China's doorstep. Why do interactions between Chinese and American military forces occur frequently in China's periphery in the first place? The answer is evident - the US has been carrying out an increasing number of provocative activities, including close-in reconnaissance in the region, sending more and more military aircraft and warships, and keeping pooling military deployments and combat forces there. 

Just within the past few days alone, The USS Ronald Reagan carrier strike group entered the South China Sea on July 13. Earlier that day, the guided-missile destroyer USS Benfold was driven away for illegally trespassing into China's territorial waters off the Xisha Islands. Every time when China makes a move, it is a response to US provocation.

On July 14, US magazine Politico quoted two anonymous sources as saying, with almost no detail, "A Chinese fighter jet had an 'unsafe' and 'unprofessional' interaction with a US special operations C-130 aircraft in the South China Sea."

After deliberately stirring up trouble, setting up numerous military bases around China, constantly conducting arms sales to the island of Taiwan, the US now blames China as the bully, the "unsafe" and "unprofessional" side, while acting as an aggrieved, innocent party. Whom does it think it can fool? 

Every country has its means to safeguard its national security and sovereignty. If the US wants to pursue being "safe," stay away from Chinese core interests. Otherwise, countermeasures will be the only professional treatment the US can ever get, Song Zhongping, a Chinese military expert and TV commentator, told the Global Times

There are some calculations behind Milley's call for a review of China-US military interactions. First, by hyping up the "China threat," the Pentagon will have a convenient excuse to ask for a higher defense budget. Second, the Pentagon can kidnap the US Congress on whether to give the green light to more military-spending bills. Third, the US can drum up more support from its allies to contain China militarily and make them more obedient in serving the US "Indo-Pacific Strategy." 

More importantly, through this review, the US wants to find out China's ability to monitor, respond and drive away military provocations from the US. 

Pentagon's military moves are like trial balloons to test China's limits. The US does not necessarily wish to spark a conflict, but it is preparing for possible warfare. When the US intensifies such tests, it could better understand China's combat strength, and better improve US' own combat plans, Song said. 

Nevertheless, the US, especially front-line military commanders like Milley, are quite sober that the US does not dare to storm right through China's redline. "Both China and the US are nuclear powers, both with the top conventional combat forces in the world. And the outbreak of a war between them is simply unbearable," Wei Dongxu, a Beijing-based military expert, told Global Times. 

The ultimate goal of all US military moves is to contain China before it poses a serious challenge to US hegemony. But facts proved that Washington has miscalculated. 

Not to mention that the US does not have the nerve to go big against China without ganging up a clique first. Worse, the US does have many military allies, but only a few would genuinely and closely follow its strategic pace. What's more, China's overall military and comprehensive national strength are constantly improving. The US will only find it more and more incapable to encircle, contain, or blockade China, Wei noted. 

If Milley really wants to dig something out from the review, he might as well check out how Tan Kefei, spokesperson of China's Ministry of National Defense, responded relevant issues earlier this month: China will surely take countermeasures in response to each of the provocations and those who come uninvited will bear the consequences. 

The author is a reporter with Global Times. opinion@globaltimes.com.cn