RimPac shows China-US ties are man­age­able

China Daily (Canada) - - LIFE -

China will par­tic­i­pate in this year’s Rim of the Pa­cific Ex­er­cise, a bi­en­nial joint mil­i­tary drill among 27 coun­tries in­clud­ing the United States, from Thurs­day. As in 2014, this year too it will take part in “outer” RimPac pro­grams such as hu­man­i­tar­ian as­sis­tance and anti-ter­ror­ism.

China’s par­tic­i­pa­tion in the US-led RimPac once again shows that the sit­u­a­tion in the South China Sea is un­der con­trol and the pos­si­bil­ity of a mil­i­tary con­flict re­mote. Although some coun­tries that have mar­itime dis­putes with China have been spec­u­lat­ing a pos­si­ble China-US con­flict, RimPac proves them wrong. In fact, Bei­jing andWash­ing­ton are ex­pand­ing their co­op­er­a­tion amid com­pe­ti­tion.

RimPac is im­por­tant be­cause it sees the pos­i­tive in­ter­ac­tion of the Chi­nese and US navies, and shows the two sides are on track to de­velop a “new­type of ma­jor­power re­la­tion­ship”, as ad­vo­cated by President Xi Jin­ping.

More im­por­tantly, com­pared with last time, China has been in­vited to take part in more drills such as gun­fire, dam­age con­trol and search and res­cue operation, sig­ni­fy­ing the devel­op­ment of trust be­tween the Chi­nese and US navies. But the drills China takes part in will still be “pe­riph­eral”, in­stead of core pro­grams. This sug­gests China and the US need more time to deepen mu­tual trust. Also, the two coun­tries’ navies will take time to ad­just to each other in as­pects such as tech­no­log­i­cal stan­dards. And the right way they can do this is to start with joint drills in RimPac’s “outer” pro­grams.

The two key RimPac pro­grams China has par­tic­i­pated in are anti-ter­ror­ism and hu­man­i­tar­ian as­sis­tance, which are ma­jor chal­lenges for Asia-Pa­cific coun­tries, in­clud­ing China and the US, and both ma­jor pow­ers need to work to­gether to meet them. The Chi­nese navy has al­ready vowed to work with its US coun­ter­part to over­come the com­mon threats.

Of course, theChina-US mil­i­tary and­se­cu­rity re­la­tion­ship is not with­out prob­lems. Andthe­most no­table prob­lem trou­bling the re­la­tion­ship is­someUS al­lies’ ter­ri­to­rial dis­putes with­China. Given this fact, theUS needs to keep its prom­ise not to take side on the ter­ri­to­rial dis­putes and avoid be­ing dragged into any con­flict pro­voked by a third party. TheUS should also honor is prom­ise of help­ing keep the South China Sea dis­putes un­der con­trol.

TheUS and China need to have more mil­i­tary in­ter­ac­tions to deepen mu­tual trust and avoid mis­judg­ing each other’s strate­gic moves.

The au­thor isa­colonelandas­so­ci­ate re­searcher at the In­sti­tute of Strate­gic Stud­ies, Na­tional De­fense Univer­sity. The ar­ti­cle is an ex­cerpt from her in­ter­view with China Daily’s Zhang Zhoux­i­ang.


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