Policy will poison relations

Updated: 2012-08-27 08:01

(China Daily)

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By any standard, the US Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney's China policy, as outlined on his official campaign website, is an outdated manifestation of a Cold War mentality.

It endorses the "China threat" theory and focuses on containing China's rise in the Asia-Pacific through bolstering the robust US military presence in the region.

And by stating that the US "should be coordinating with Taiwan to determine its military needs and supplying them with adequate aircraft and other military platforms", the Republican challenger has also gone so far as to provoke China over its sovereignty of the island.

True, politicians tend to go back on their words after being elected, and it has become usual for US politicians to play the China card in an election year. But Romney's stance on China is still worrying, as it could poison the friendly atmosphere necessary to develop Sino-US relations.

Putting aside his remedies for the US' domestic problems and whether they would be effective or not, his China policy, if implemented, would cause a retrogression in bilateral ties and turn the region into a venue for open confrontation between China and the US.

Compared to the "strategic pivot" policies US President Barack Obama is implementing in the region, Romney's recommendations are more pugnacious. He insists the US and its allies "must maintain appropriate military capabilities to discourage any aggressive or coercive behavior by China against its neighbors".

The Republican should be reminded that his own country has been covertly or overtly backing some of China's neighbors in an attempt to add fuel to the fires of the South China Sea disputes. But any US attempt to involve itself deeply in the disputes will only lead to head-on confrontation between the two countries. This would be in neither party's interest.

As China and the US both have a stake in peace and stability in the Asia-Pacific region, any responsible politician would refrain from making recommendations that might turn the two countries into rivals, rather than partners.

As to Romney's suggestion that the US step up arms sales to Taiwan, it lays bare his ignorance of the fundamentals of Sino-US ties, as this is the most sensitive issue between the two countries. US arms sales to Taiwan have thrown bilateral ties off balance several times in the past. It requires political vision as well as profound knowledge of Sino-US relations as a whole, to make sensible policy recommendations about what are widely recognized as the most important bilateral ties in the world. Romney apparently lacks both.

(China Daily 08/27/2012 page8)