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Row over South China Sea only an episode, not a flashpoint, in U.S.-China relations

(Source: Xinhua)   2015-06-14

  BEIJING, June 13 (Xinhua) -- The rift over the South China Sea between Beijing and Washington has heightened tensions in the region, but dispute over this body of water is only "an episode" in China-U.S. relations, instead of a flashpoint as portrayed or feared by many.

  At a time when the futures and fortunes of China and the United States are more closely intertwined than they have ever been, it is imperative for them to always look for the bigger picture, and prevent such solvable tensions evolving into dangerous tinderbox.

  As Fan Changlong, vice chairman of China's Central Military Commission, has said, the two nations "should take the higher ground to look into the far future by paying more attention to other, more important regional and international issues."

  Fan made the remarks Thursday during his talks with U.S. Defense Secretary Ashton Carter at the Pentagon, where he urged the U.S. military to reduce its naval and air activities in the South China Sea.

  The U.S. military has recently staged a show of force to China by sending reconnaissance planes to fly over China's islands and reefs in the South China Sea, which was intentionally showcased to the world through the camera of a global TV news network.

  It has also threatened to continue such flights in future to challenge China's legal claims, while working hard to create a shadow military alliance to encircle China.

  However, making all the coercive statements and actions there would only stoke the flames. Cool heads, good sense and candid discussion are what it really takes to ease, rather than increase, tensions.

  As the Chinese government has stressed repeatedly, its construction on the South China Sea islands are totally justified and legitimate as these islands and their adjacent waters have been China's territories since ancient times.

  Moreover, China's construction and maintenance of facilities on some of the islands and reefs are mainly aimed at improving the living and working conditions of the residents there, and such capacity building will immensely improve the navigation safety in the region.

  The United States, which is even not a claimant to the South China Sea issue, should refrain from interfering in China's island construction activities which belong to China's internal affairs.

  A look back into the history demonstrates that sound and healthy China-U.S. relations have benefited both peoples.

  While the relationship between Beijing and Washington is maturing, the latter should know better than allowing such an "episode" dominate their bilateral agenda and eventually jeopardize the efforts in building a new type of major-country relations, which features mutual benefits and win-win cooperation.

Editor:Zhang Tao
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