Military-to-Military Relations Still Stabilizer for Sino-US Relations
(Source: China Daily; issued June 05, 2019)
The US Department of Defense released a 55-page Indo-Pacific Strategy Report on Saturday, and acting Secretary of Defense Patrick Shanahan highlighted the key message of the report in his speech at the Shangri-La Dialogue in Singapore on the same day.

The so-called Indo-Pacific strategy is actually focused on Asia and is a legacy of Shanahan's predecessor James Mattis, although it can trace its origins back to the Barack Obama administration's "pivot to Asia" and even the Asia-Pacific policies of the George W. Bush administration.

However, none of these stratagems, all customized to contain China, has taken the steam out of the world's most robust growth engine, or prevented it from weaving close ties in various fields with the rest of the region.

Peace, stability and cooperation are the bedrocks for the common development and prosperity of the region, and the local people have proved that they have the abilities and shared will to resolve their divergences and keep their differences under control.

A key take-away from this year's Shangri-La Dialogue, which China's defense minister attended for the first time in eight years, is that Beijing has driven home the message that it is always ready to resolve any disputes through peaceful talks, but it will fight to the end to defend its core interests.

In fact, the Pentagon does not pin its hopes on the latest incarnation of its Indo-Pacific strategy yielding any concrete results.

As the global superpower, the US has always maintained a large military presence in the Asia-Pacific. But the region is drastically different from the times when the US had its dominance entrenched in the region, thanks to the economic globalization that the US originally championed.

And it does not have the unconditional support of its regional allies for any rash behavior, since few of them want or can afford to lose China as their trade and development partner, which was laid bare in the speech of Singaporean Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong at the forum.

The Pentagon is also fully aware that the Sino-US contradictions are far from being irreconcilable, and there is huge space for both sides to avoid conflicts through dialogue.

Although he made no secret of Washington's intention to step up its efforts to contain China in his speech, both sides said that Shanahan's meeting with Chinese Defense Minister Wei Fenghe on Friday on the sidelines of the regional security forum was constructive.

Which once again highlights the fact that military-to-military relations remain a stabilizing factor for relations between Washington and Beijing.

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