As tradition has it, the U.S. Department of Defense's Annual Report to Congress: Military and Security Developments Involving the People's Republic of China 2018 once again exaggerated the "military threat" posed by China. The fact that the United States, the world's largest military power, sees as a threat a country which pursues peaceful development reveals its underlying hostility toward China.
This hostile attitude has existed for many years and U.S. military jets often approach the Chinese mainland on reconnaissance flights. In 2001, a U.S. spy plane collided with a Chinese military jet on one such mission, causing the Chinese aircraft and its pilot Wang Wei to crash into the sea. Wang's body has never been found. Under the pretext of freedom of navigation, U.S. naval ships often challenge China's sovereignty in the South China Sea. It is thus of little surprise that the annual Pentagon report once again devotes much of its focus to China's so-called "military threat."
Neither the Chinese Government nor public are of any threat to the United States. The Chinese Government is focused on economic growth and people's livelihoods, just as it has been over the past four decades. Currently, China and the United States have extensive common interests thanks to enhanced economic, trade and investment links.
The U.S. public's reaction to the government's imposition of additional tariffs on Chinese products is vivid proof of how closely interconnected the interests of the two countries have become, as well as the harm inflicted on American businesses by the government's protectionist stance. The Office of the U.S. Trade Representative held public hearings in Washington, D.C. between August 20 and 27 on the consequences of proposed new tariffs on $20 billion worth of Chinese imports. Among the industry representatives who attended the hearings, comprised mainly of those from America's corporate and trade circles, most expressed opposition to the proposal. They pointed out that due to issues of capacity, quality and cost, many of the commodities on the list can only be imported from China, with no substitutes available from U.S. domestic producers or third-party countries.
China sees the United States as a major trading partner and pursues mutually beneficial cooperation with it. In the United States, many people also value the relationship between the two countries. It seems to be only in the Department of Defense where a few biased officials claim that China is threatening the United States.
There is no evidence to substantiate the depiction of China as a menace to U.S. national security. While U.S. navy ships and military planes drum up trouble on China's doorstep, never has the Chinese military done anything of the sort in the easterly reaches of the Pacific.
China's military strategy is transparent. The State Council Information Office issued a white paper on China's military strategy in 2015, which introduced China's national defense policy, military development, military control and disarmament efforts, as well as the international security situation and areas for cooperation. Sticking to a road of peaceful development and pursuing a national defense policy defensive in nature, China will always act passionately to protect world peace, safeguard international order and contribute to global development. The Chinese military is more actively involved than ever before in UN-led peacekeeping missions, escort operations in the Gulf of Aden and overseas disaster relief, assuming more international responsibility and providing more extensive public security services. These efforts and contributions have been widely exalted around the globe.
In the Pentagon report, China's military deployment in the South China Sea is highlighted as evidence of the "China threat," further exposing the flawed logic of its creators. China possesses indisputable sovereignty over the islands and waters of the South China Sea and it is a sovereign nation's inalienable right to conduct construction projects and military training on its own territory.
The report also asserts that by increasing its military power, China is poised to challenge the United States for influence in the Asia-Pacific region. This assertion belies a guilty conscience. As an old Chinese saying goes, one is only able to stop a fight when capable of fighting back. These words capture the essence of China's national defense policy. In the face of U.S. provocation, the Chinese armed forces are left with no choice but to take countermeasures.
The "China threat" theory promulgated by the U.S. Department of Defense is the byproduct of a new Cold War mindset, which means to threaten China on the pretense of a supposed threat from China. In fact, the militaries of the two countries have a lot to cooperate on in international affairs such as counter-terrorism, disaster relief and space exploration. The Pentagon's hostility toward China is undermining mutual trust between the two countries and contradicting the common interests of their peoples.
Copyedited by Laurence Coulton
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