People's Daily: U.S. should refrain from touching China's bottom line on South China Sea issue

Source: China Military OnlineEditor: Zhang Tao
2016-07-07 21:13

BEIJING, July 7 (China Mil)--The U.S. must understand that there is a bottom line on everything, and it has to pay the price if it crosses the line.

The U.S.-China Dialogue On South China Sea Issue was held in Washington on July 5, which was right in time as some political forces in the U.S. and the Philippines tried hard to disturb the South China Sea through the arbitration case. The Dialogue could help American strategy planners to clearly understand China's will and capability in safeguarding its legitimate rights and interests, and it will also enable them to think more rationally about America's role on the South China Sea issue.

The South China Sea isn't an issue between China and the United States, but what happened in the past few years indisputably prove that it is the United States, a country outside the region, that has used this issue as a tool to achieve its own strategic goal and caused mounting tensions in the region.

In the summer of 2009, the then U.S. Secretary of State pronounced on a high profile "the U.S. is back" to Southeast Asia. Since then, senior American officials have hyped up the South China Sea issue on all occasions, not only making carping comments on China's rightful assertions, but also abetting the Philippines and other countries in the region to make trouble for China.

The freedom of navigation in the South China Sea is never an issue, but the U.S. needs it to be an issue, so it has hyped up a topic that doesn't hold water. The Pentagon even played its best cards such as aircraft carriers, strategic bombers and guided-missile destroyers. What the U.S. said and did largely aggravated the realistic risks to peace and stability in the South China Sea region, but it should be aware that its actions would only consolidate China's resolve and capability to defend its own interests.

One of the topics at the Dialogue was on how to prevent the South China Sea issue from defining China-U.S. relations, and how to prevent it from generating more "negative spillover" effects.

Given the current status on that issue, the U.S. especially needs to re-evaluate its South China Sea policy from the perspective of the overall situation of bilateral relations. Should it tighten risk control and keep the situation from worsening, or continue the "marginalizing policy" and try to intimidate China with pressure? China hopes to see the U.S. making a rational choice, but it is fully prepared for any willful action the U.S. may take.

The U.S. should play a constructive role on the South China Sea issue. For a long time China has insisted on pushing its relations with the U.S. with a long-term and strategic vision and called for controlling their divergences in constructive ways. In the Asia Pacific where both countries have interests, China is willing to work with the U.S. to foster a common rather than exclusive "brotherhood", so that both of them can be contributors and guardians of regional prosperity and stability.

But if the U.S. chooses the "marginalizing policy" of pressuring and bluffing at any cost, there is only one result that it has to bear all responsibilities for possible further tension in the region. On the South China Sea issue, China has unshakeable will to safeguard national sovereignty and territorial integrity. It doesn't want anything that doesn't belong to it, but it won't give up an inch of land that belongs to it. Nobody should have any illusion on that matter.

Michael D. Swaine, a senior associate at Carnegie Endowment for International Peace who participated in the Dialogue, wrote in his previous article that the endless disputes over the South China Sea issue may cause permanent damages to China-U.S. relations and create turbulences in Asia. This warning isn't sensational considering the great influence of China and the U.S. in regional landscape. America's willful actions on that issue may create sensations for the moment, but there is a bottom line on everything and it has to pay the price if it crosses the line.

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