US admiral visit a chance for dialogue

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U.S. Navy Admiral John Richardson (L), the U.S. chief of naval operations is seen in this file photo taken in Tokyo October 15, 2015. REUTERS/Yoshikazu Tsuno

US Chief of Naval Operations Admiral John Richardson began his visit to China on Sunday with a focus on a “results-oriented, risk reduction” dialogue between the two militaries, according to a US Navy statement.

Adm. Richardson’s visit comes at a time when China-US trade talks are intensifying, and overall bilateral tensions have not yet eased. Increasing concerns about future military friction between the two powers have emerged. Particularly at sea, there is a high risk of unexpected military disputes.

The anticipation of a downward trend in China-US relations is very common now. The growing trend of mutual strategic vigilance is hard to reverse between Beijing and Washington. If China-US military friction occurs, public opinion and political resources are limited to control the scale of the friction and to avoid a serious escalation. Neither do the two sides possess necessary mutual trust to interact positively with one another. Hence it is vital to keep themselves aloof of military conflicts.

Information released by Washington over this visit suggests that the US shares the same willingness to control and reduce risks with China.

It is hoped that both sides can put all their cards on the table and fully clarify risks through a series of talks during Adm. Richardson’s visit. Rules to prevent friction should be made as sufficiently and clearly as possible

It is definitely wrong if the US thinks it has more rights than China in the South China Sea and the Taiwan Straits. If dialogue fails to help Washington understand this, Beijing needs to take practical action to help the US correct its vision.

China must be aware that strengthening military forces is the most important way to win more US respect for China’s sovereignty. China is technologically and financially capable of accelerating military modernization. It should unswervingly promote the process and screen off any temporary distraction.

China should regard pressure from the US as a price to pay rather than considering compromise in exchange for Washington’s revocation of suppression.

China must have the ability to make rivals pay unbearable costs when the country is forced into offshore combat and also the unquestionable capability of strategic nuclear counterattack. This is the basis for the US to respect China’s core interests in the latter’s offshore waters, and China should not ever vacillate.

Apart from obtaining greater strength and drawing a clear bottom line, China should also keep a low profile and be humble. In terms of overall strength, the People’s Liberation Army is no match for the US Army and such a reality will last a long time. But China must dare to show its volition to safeguard its core interests while knowing when to exercise patience.

China will not proactively stir up trouble and is willing to negotiate first when disputes occur. But China will not tolerate others crossing its bottom line. Adm. Richardson’s visit to China is an important opportunity for China and the US to improve mutual understanding and reduce misjudgments. It is hoped the two sides can better understand each other and reach a consensus on how to avoid conflicts which neither side wishes.

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