Military ties for peace
Updated: 2012-09-05 07:57
On Sunday, Liang Guanglie, Chinese state councilor and minister of defense, arrived in India for a five-day visit. He also has gone to Sri Lanka and will soon travel to Laos.
The same day, Ma Xiaotian, deputy chief of the general staff of the People's Liberation Army, left Beijing for Vietnam, Myanmar, Malaysia and Singapore.
Then on Monday, Wu Shengli, PLA naval commander, started on a trip to Turkey and a deputy chief of staff of the PLA Navy arrived in Indonesia.
General Liang's current visit to India is the first a Chinese Defense Minister has made to that country in eight years. It remains unclear whether his talks with Indian officials will touch on a long-standing border dispute that is partially responsible for the neighbors' distrust of each other. Expectations are running high that the visit may lead to a new session of the "hand-in-hand" military drills that Indian and Chinese troops have conducted together. General Ma's delegation will hold consultations on security issues with Vietnam, Malaysia and Singapore.
We have heard much lately about military options, and sensed veiled military threats in discussions concerning territorial disputes over the Huangyan and Diaoyu islands. And we have witnessed public indignation arise at home following provocations by foreign claimants and seen decision-makers come under greater pressure to get tough. But we have heard nothing that is provocative from our own defense authorities. That's why we wonder what the White House was thinking of when it once again admonished countries in the region to resolve their disputes without resorting to coercion.
Outsiders with ulterior motives dislike that the PLA has forged closer ties with other militaries in the region. But that is exactly what the PLA needs to do and should do more of.
These territorial disputes would not be threatening the entire region's safety had there not been instigations from outsiders.
The PLA now has the difficult responsibility of explaining its non-offensive strategy and need to expand, as well as show its willingness to work more closely with other militaries in the region. A greater amount of mutual confidence among militaries in the region will prove a fundamental guarantor of peace.
They have an obligation to show that countries in this part of the world are capable of solving their problems by themselves.
(China Daily 09/05/2012 page8)