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Harsh exchange over South China Sea dispute


05-31-2016 06:24 BJT

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BEIJING, May 30 (Xinhua) -- Issuing a series of harsh rhetoric lately against China's actions in the South China Sea, the U.S. military seems to be determined to turn itself into a destructive force against peace and development in the Asia Pacific.

During his speech at the U.S. Naval Academy on Friday, U.S. Defense Secretary Ash Carter warned Beijing that it was on a path to erect a "Great Wall of self-isolation."

In reasserting the right to freedom of navigation in international waters, Caters said the United States will continue to "fly, sail and operate" where law allows it, adding the Pentagon's best weapons will be deployed to the Pacific region.

Also on Wednesday, Carter claimed that the U.S. military's efforts in the Asia-Pacific region against a rising China is akin to the 50-year Cold-War standoff with the Soviet Union. It's "going to be a long campaign of firmness, and gentle but strong pushback for probably quite a number of years," he added.

Advocating U.S.-China confrontation, such rhetoric is nothing but flagrant provocations against China's maritime security interests.

The tough talk is also very dangerous and irresponsible as it can only seriously undermine the foundation of peace and stability in the Asia-Pacific region.

Though tensions have been escalating in the region over recent years and huge differences remain among claimants in the South China Sea dispute, no claimant state has actually threatened to resort to force to solve the issue, as it is the common wish of all countries in the region to safeguard peace in the South China Sea.

Although some Chinese islands in the region have been illegally occupied by others, Beijing has always insisted on settling the disputes through peaceful means, and has never made such remarks as "to deploy the best weapons to the region."

As a matter of fact, China hopes the South China Sea is a sea of peace, and it has kept its door for dialogue and negotiations open all the time.

Thanks to Beijing's exercise of restraint and concerted efforts of most countries in the region, the South China Sea situation has been generally peaceful. Despite the territorial rows between China and other claimants, freedom of navigation in the South China Sea has never been a problem.

Carter's remarks, however, will significantly stir up the tension in the South China Sea as they reveal publicly Washington's strategic intent to militarize the region and to contain a rising China.

They also thoroughly manifest a sitting U.S. senior official's Cold-War mentality against China and are considered by Chinese observers, particularly those in the military circle, to be widely representative of the U.S. strategy.

Though claiming the U.S. rebalancing to Asia is not targeted at Beijing, Washington has been busy building a "Great Wall" of containment and encirclement against China by gathering allies and instigating conflicts between China and other Asian countries.

In recent years, the United States has insisted on launching military operations across the South China Sea, with some senior U.S. officials making statements saying that such moves will be even more frequent in future.

Turning a deaf ear to China's call for keeping its promise not to take sides on the maritime disputes, the United States has since last October sent warships and military jets to deliberately violate China's territorial waters in the South China Sea.

Some Western media on Sunday even called the recent U.S. military moves in the South China Sea the "new normal" in spite of continuous opposition from China.

However, muscle-flexing and arbitrary intervention will neither shake China's resolve to safeguard its sovereignty and maritime rights nor alter the historical fact that China has sovereignty over the South China Sea islands and adjacent waters.

The already complex situation in the South China Sea requires sobriety and restraint, not military deterrence or sharp rebukes.

The United States needs to understand that a wrong-headed approach would eventually jeopardize regional stability and hurt the interests of all countries involved, and it will eventually lose support if it goes on trying to muddy the waters in the South China Sea.

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