BEIJING, March 28 (ChinaMil) -- In her recent address about "Indian Ocean-Asia Pacific maritime security" in Australia, Scott H. Swift, Commander of the U.S. Pacific Fleet, accused some country of militarizing the region without giving names, and said "Might Is Right" is coming back to that region. Western media said Swift was accusing China. Is that the truth?
"Might Is Right" has nothing to do with China
Let's review the U.S. actions and we can see that it is the best illustration of this statement made by the high-ranking U.S. military official.
When the U.S. invaded Iraq with neither evidence nor authorization, wasn't it "Might Is Right"? When it continued to sell weapon to Taiwan after admitting that the Mainland China is the only legitimate representation of China, wasn't it "Might Is Right"? When it has implemented a half-century-long sanction on Cuba just because that country insists on following its own path of development, that’s downright "Might Is Right".
On the other hand, China hasn't accomplished cross-Strait reunification yet because of factors including America's intervention, its legitimate assertions on the sovereignty over the Diaoyu Islands have encountered military threat from the United States, and its islands in the South China Sea continue to be encroached upon by certain countries.
All these indicate that "Might Is Right" has nothing to do with China.
But the author isn't surprised by what Swift said. Such groundless accusation of China playing "Might Is Right" is aimed to stress the international rules dominated by the U.S.
Recently the U.S. government has repeatedly emphasized that international relations must be based on rules, and the U.S. president Barack Obama said several times that the rules must be decided by the U.S. instead of China.
It is agreed by all countries that the international community should run according to rules because a disorderly society without rules will suffer from chaos, instability and loss of control, and the law of the jungle that will prevail in such a society will be detrimental to most members as everyone will feel insecure.
If rules are in place to ensure standard governance, competition among nations will tend to be healthy and benign, and international relations can be better predicted according to rules.
U.S. does whatever it wants for its own interests
However, the U.S. hasn't always been willing to establish and follow rules, especially when they concern issues such as sovereignty, security and human right.
It takes its own human right standards as universal, but has refused to join a series of key human right conventions of the United Nations, including Convention on the Rights of the Child, Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) and Convention of the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, on all kinds of excuses.
Upholding the principle of pragmatism, the U.S. has quitted some international agreements on the grounds of national interests.
For instance, it quitted the Treaty on the Limitation of Anti-Ballistic Missile Systems (ABM) and Kyoto Protocol in 2001 successively, and it asks China to observe the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) that it isn't a member of yet.
The U.S. has repeatedly violated international treaties it has joined for national interests too.
Although it joined the 1925 Geneva Convention, the U.S. has sometimes used toxic gas and other chemical weapon or even germ weapon in later international conflicts, including the use of various chemical gases in Vietnam and Laos.
Although its relation with China is "normalized", it has kept selling weapon to Taiwan, which is a violation of the UN Charters.
When it launched a military action against Iraq in 2003, the U.S. had neither the UN's authorization nor evidence that Iraq was developing mass destruction weapons beforehand, so there was no ground to "take preemptive steps". The U.S. outrageously overthrew the regime of another nation by force, caused a grave humanitarian disaster in Iraq, and sowed the seed for the serious terrorist turbulences in the Iraq-Syria region today.
On the issues of China's sovereignty and territory, the U.S. also puts interests rather than rules first.
When it needed China to contain Japan's imperialist expansion, it had strategic cooperation with China and supported China in recovering Taiwan and other territory that was occupied by Japan.
When the cold war in the Far East turned into a hot war, it announced that "the position of Taiwan is undecided".
When it needed China to contain the Soviet Union's expansion, it shifted diplomatic acknowledgement from Taipei to Beijing. But even so, the U.S. has maintained under-the-table dealings with Japan and damaged China's sovereignty over the Diaoyu Islands.
Three things the U.S. should do
All the United States' selective actions are aimed to serve American interests.
It's clear that while stressing the observation of rules, the U.S. has been willfully doing whatever it wishes based on its power. It is very selective about rules - selectively formulating, avoiding, accepting and quitting the rules, and selectively putting its domestic law above international law while whitewashing it as "doing things according to law".
The U.S. has proposed that "international relations must be established on the basis of rules", but if we think about it carefully, what it means is that other countries must observe international laws but the U.S. only has to observe its domestic laws, or at most selectively observe international ones. The U.S. never strictly observes international law. Its paramount principle is self-interest and pragmatism.
If the U.S. really honors international law, it should do the following things.
First, it should stop selling weapon to Taiwan according to the UN Charters instead of observing its own Taiwan Relations Act, and compensate China for the losses caused by its persistent encroachment upon China's internal affairs.
Second, it should urge Japan to return what it plundered during the aggression of China, including returning the Diaoyu Islands to China, according to Cairo Declaration and Potsdam Proclamation.
Third, it should apologize and pay damages to Iraq for launching the aggressive war. If the U.S. really wants to practice international rules, it should send its then president to the International Court of Justice for crimes against humanity according to the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court.
It's fine for the U.S. to emphasize international rules, but the problem is that it's not always observing them itself.
The U.S. said it should be the one that formulates international rules, but in fact it has constantly broken or evaded the rules it formulated, indicating a sheer abuse of power and hegemony.
But the world needs rules notwithstanding, and the world welcomes the U.S. to play a positive role in making new rules. However, the U.S. should be well aware that rule making is not a prerogative, but a right open to all countries.
The world needs just, equal and sustainable rules. All rules must be equitable and just, all countries are equal before any rules, and all rules must be beneficial for the sustainable development of human society and eco-environment.
China is willing to make efforts to jointly formulate and observe such rules, and we welcome all countries, including the United States, to work with us and make the international community a world truly based on rules.
By Shen Dingli, deputy director of the Institute of International Studies, Fudan University. The opinions expressed here are those of the writer and don't represent views of the China Military Online website.