The US and the Philippines began a two-week military drill on Monday. This “shoulder to shoulder” exercise is widely believed to be targeted at China. Some US analysts even argue that Washington should adopt a national strategy oriented at South China Sea to stop China’s “aggression” in this region. Without a correct understanding of China’s South China Sea policy and the US role in this area, these analysts miscalculated the real Asia-Pacific geopolitics.
China is depicted by many Western media as a bully in South China Sea, but the reality is that most of the Nansha Islands are forcibly occupied by those supposedly “bullied,” such as the Philippines and Vietnam.
We shouldn’t draw a simple conclusion that China and the US will engage in a hot war if Washington gets fully involved in this area. It’s too naïve a judgment, as what the Philippines and Japan are aiming at is to turn their conflicts with China into a direct confrontation between China and the US. Such change is unlikely to happen in post-Cold War international relations.
The islands disputes in the South China Sea and East China Sea are a battle for national interests. They have led to a strategic game between China and the US, but its intensity is not high.
Where the game heads to relies on how the stakeholders, especially China and the US, interact with each other. Neither Manila nor Washington can manipulate the situation. China has more power to reshape the scenario.
Both China and the US are global powers, and the islands disputes constitute just a fraction of their bilateral relationship. Neither China can cherish illusions that the US will stay neutral in the South China Sea, nor the Philippines and Japan can indulge in a reverie that Washington would jeopardize its relationship with China for their petty interests.
China has more confidence than ever to face the US in the South China Sea chessboard. A growing US-China relationship benefits the US, which mandates that US doesn’t allow its warships to be locked in a dangerous standoff with China.
What’s more, China’s actions have never really touched the nerve of the US. People with insight can see the restraint and prudence of China’s South China Sea policy.
The other stakeholders in this area should cast away illusions that the US would be their “big daddy.” Bilateral negotiations with China are the only way to address these disputes and to protect their own interests.
Washington’s military deployment in Asia-Pacific can hardly be turned into real deterrence against China, but the US won’t stop making mischief in this area. However, under the framework of a new type of major power relationship, China is gathering more experience to play the chess with the US.
Countries like the Philippines and Japan should better update their knowledge about China. Borrowing power from the US and scaring China reflects nothing but their short-sightedness.
Source:Global Times Published: 2014-5-7 0:33:01
Yi Xianliang, deputy director-general of the Department of Boundary and Ocean Affairs of China’s For…
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