Chinese Defence Minister Chang Wanquan (4th right) claps next to his counterparts from Asean during the China-AseanDefense Ministers’ Informal Meeting in Beijing, China, October 16, 2015. China’s Xiangshan defence forum followed the informal Asean meeting today. — Reuters pic –
At the sixth Xiangshan Forum on Saturday, Fan Changlong, vice- chairman of China’s Central Military Commission, said China has always advocated dealing with disputes through peaceful means and will not use violence recklessly, even if it comes to territory and sovereignty. The quote was soon singled out and garbled by netizens without mentioning the context, resulting in the wrong impression that the Chinese military is “too weak.”
The commitment of the forum is to facilitate communication between governments and militaries in security policies, but the ordinary Chinese people have also shown much interest in it. It is difficult for top Chinese military officers to please every one of them.
In fact, Fan’s remarks have more clearly reflected China’s stance over territorial issues. China does not use force recklessly, but, as it always insists, will use whatever is necessary to safeguard sovereign integrity.
China’s military building has garnered worldwide attention, and its construction works on some of the Nansha Islands are misunderstood to be a process of militarization. This misunderstanding is the bone of contention in the South China Sea disputes, and a focus of the Sino-US rivalry in this region. Concerns arise due to the simmering tensions, and how to soothe neighboring countries is of strategic significance for China.
China is not at the appropriate moment to emphasize its military prowess. It is more important to declare to the world that China will utilize this power with caution. In this way, the international community will put more faith in China’s rise as a responsible global player.
China needs to coordinate military building with the publicity about the prudent use of force in the future. As a rising power, this could put China on the moral high ground, where it can avoid becoming a focal point of political conflicts.
An unreasonably tough stance, used as an emotional outlet for the public, is not what a government should adopt. A deliberate show of strength can only reveal a country’s lack of confidence in regional and international affairs. Powerful countries seldom deliver harsh words in most circumstances.
The Chinese must understand that on the road to rejuvenation, China needs strength as much as it needs wisdom and an open mind. The country is more than able to defend itself by force, but it needs more than force to deal with many other kinds of conflicts. The US for example, which has the most powerful military, still cannot handle every security issue without using other leverage. We need to put more trust in both the Chinese military and diplomats. They know how to do their job well, and they cannot be disrupted by radical nationalists. Global Times
Planned U.S. provocative move in S. China Sea risks destabilizing region
Fan Changlong (right), vice-chairman of the Central Military Commission, and Hun Sen, prime minister of Cambodia, at a welcoming dinner for Xiangshan Forum participants on Friday. FENG YONGBIN/CHINA DAILY
WASHINGTON, Oct. 15 — The United States could shoot itself in the foot if it proceeds with planned naval patrols in the adjacent waters off China’s islands in the South China Sea, as such provocation will risk creating miscalculation and destabilizing the region.
U.S. military officials and government spokespersons have recently indicated the country’s intention to send navy ships to sail within 12 nautical miles of the islands where China has recently done reclamation work, in a move deliberately designed to challenge China’s territorial claims.
The U.S. government is having a hard time trying to justify such provocative step.
Firstly, such a plan obviously contradicts Washington’s public statement that it takes no stand over the territorial claims by six parties in the South China Sea region.
Secondly, the United States says it will do so in order to exert so-called rights of freedom of navigation as the international law allows. But, the fact is China has never done anything to infringe upon the freedom of navigation in the region.
On the contrary, China has a vested interest in protecting such rights as most of its flow of commerce in foreign trade passes through the sea lanes in the region.
Thirdly, it is a fallacy for Washington to claim that such step is designed to prevent the militarization of the South China Sea while China has already pledged that it has no intention to pursue militarization of the newly reclaimed islands.
Beijing has clearly stated that its construction of facilities in the region is mainly for the purposes of maintenance, improving living conditions for the stationed personnel and providing common goods to the international community by offering service to foreign ships sailing in the region.
The U.S. move, if carried out, will leave China no choice but to beef up its defense capabilities.
Furthermore, it will be a slap in its own face if the United States resorts to military intimidation to exert its alleged rights, because it has been calling for the claimant countries to settle their maritime disputes through peaceful means.
No doubt that if Washington goes ahead with the patrol plan, it should bear responsibility for escalating tensions in the region, raising danger of miscalculation, and complicating the efforts to seek diplomatic resolution of the disputes.\
Washington should also be clear-eyed to the fact that some claimants in the region, such as the Philippines, a U.S. ally, will be encouraged by the U.S. move to take more provocative steps to challenge China and destabilize the region.
China has already urged the United States to avoid taking the provocative step in the South China Sea at a time when the China-U.S. relationship has just improved due to Chinese President Xi Jinping’s fruitful state visit in late September.
During the visit, Xi and his U.S. host Barack Obama renewed their commitment to building a new model of major-country relationship featuring no confrontation, no conflict, mutual respect and win-win cooperation.
They also promised to further enhance military-to-military ties and expand cooperation on a wide range of issues for the benefit of both peoples and the world as a whole.
So, it will be a grave mistake for the United States to use military means to challenge China, as it will inevitably damage the newly-generated positive momentum in the bilateral ties and could lead to dangerous misunderstanding between the two militaries.
Washington boasts the strongest military power in the world, but this by no means justifies its act of bullying any other country at its will.
China has every right to defend its rights and strategic interests, and will respond to any provocation appropriately and decisively.- Xinhua