Staying in tune
Updated: 2012-10-31 07:50
When the army bands of China and the United States sat shoulder to shoulder at Beijing's National Center of Performing Arts on Monday night, it was a significant moment, not just for the realms of music and entertainment.
It was the first time the two bands have played together on a Chinese stage, and marked another step in improving military ties between Beijing and Washington.
The 76-member US military band will perform two more concerts with its Chinese counterparts in Nanjing and Shanghai during its current visit.
The performances are part of this year's series of exchanges between the two militaries, which were put back on track last year after military-to-military exchanges between China and the US had remained dormant for a long time.
But besides forging friendly ties through music, the sight of the two bands playing the same songs signals hope that the two countries can foster friendly relations.
Fueled by the US' strategic rebalancing to the Asia-Pacific region, there has been a great deal of speculation about the possibility of a confrontation between the two armed forces in the region, as the US move is widely perceived as an attempt to contain China's rise.
So everything the two militaries do comes laden with meaning.
The successful joint performance staged by the two militaries on Monday night has shown that if the men and women in uniform can sing and play the same tune, there is no reason why the two militaries cannot avoid confrontation and stay in harmony.
And they did play the same tunes. The United States Army Band "Pershing's Own" and the People's Liberation Army Military Band played The Five-Starred Red Flag and The Star-Spangled Banner together beautifully.
Both countries know the world wants them to expand cooperation, reduce disputes and keep their differences at bay. For its part, China has always looked to the larger picture of Sino-US ties and is willing to work with the US to advance bilateral ties.
But it takes two to tango. Steering Sino-US ties, military-to-military ties included, onto healthy terrain is a two-way street. However, Washington has chosen to follow its own score from time to time. When it plays its own tune, partnership is out of the question.
(China Daily 10/31/2012 page8)