--The Asahi Shimbun, June 5
EDITORIAL: U.S., China really need to talkPrevious ArticleEDITORIAL: Summit of 2 main parties seems the obvious way to go

TweetChina, with its growing economic and military might, is becoming more aggressive in asserting its maritime interests in the region.

China needs to stop its saber-rattling and make serious efforts to improve the climate for cool-headed international talks over sensitive issues that involve its neighbors.

In recent weeks, tensions have been running high between China and the Philippines over the issue of sovereignty over the Scarborough Shoal, a rocky outcrop in the South China Sea.

The Chinese media increasingly has been arguing for the use of military force to solve the territorial dispute. This view seems to reflect opinions in military circles.

There is a huge gap in the naval power of each country. China has been racing to build up its military might and is now close to deploying its first aircraft carrier, while the Philippines doesn’t even have a vessel armed with missiles.

However, the Philippines has a mutual defense treaty with the United States. The territorial dispute threatens to escalate into a dangerous confrontation that could involve the United States.

The waters around the Scarborough Shoal, a triangular chain of rocks and reefs located some 230 kilometers off the western coast of Luzon island in the Philippines, are rich fishing grounds that draw fishermen from a number of countries.

Tensions flared in April after the Philippines sent a frigate to the area to chase off Chinese fishing vessels operating there.

Two months on, patrol boats from both countries remain stationed around the shoal in a continuing standoff.

Beijing’s hard-nosed attitude reflects a growing sense of national greatness among Chinese.

“A small country should not at will encroach on (the territory of) or provoke a large country,” China’s vice foreign minister, Fu Ying, wrote in a recent article in Lianhe Zaobao, a major Chinese-language newspaper in Singapore. Although she didn’t name any specific country, she was evidently referring to the Philippines.

“A large country doesn’t belittle a small country,” Fu said.
But such remarks inevitably make China’s neighbors jittery.

If it is a great power, China should act like one and exercise more self-control.

China’s rise is disturbing the established order in the region. Thus, the presence of U.S. forces is assuming increasing importance as a stabilizing factor.

During a recent international conference held in Singapore, U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta outlined Washington’s strategy to expand its military presence in the Asia-Pacific region. The United States will reconfigure its naval forces from a 50-50 split between the Pacific and the Atlantic oceans so that 60 percent of the fleet is assigned to the Asia-Pacific region by 2020.

The Obama administration, under strong political pressure to cut back on its defense spending, is withdrawing troops from Afghanistan and Iraq while placing greater security policy priority on Asia, a region which has massive trade flows with the United States and directly affects the country’s economic fortunes.

Washington has made clear the United States has a clear national interest in maintaining the freedom of navigation in the South China Sea.

Any U.S. action that could be construed by Beijing as ganging up on China is bound to cause alarm. Regional tensions will become inflamed if the United States draws its allies into a network to contain China.

The United States and China should take every opportunity to explore ways of working together to build up a new order in the region that provides the necessary reassurance to neighboring countries.

Such efforts would help promote the prosperity of the nations concerned.

by kiyoshimat | 2012-06-10 07:22 | 英字新聞

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