Double blow to ties
Updated: 2012-12-24 07:56
The Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2013, which has two amendments relating to China, was passed by the US House of Representatives and the Senate at the end of last week. The amendments, though not legally binding, sent the wrong signal to the Asia Pacific region and could cast a shadow over Sino-US ties.
In the amendment on the Diaoyu Islands, the United States once again repeated its official line that it does not take sides in the maritime territorial dispute involving China and Japan. However, at the same time, it explicitly recognizes Japan's administration of the disputed isles. In an apparent move to bolster Japan's unwarranted claims, the document goes even further to say that the US-Japan security treaty applies to the dispute, should the islands come under attack.
This is a blatant violation of China's sovereign rights. The US-Japan security pact, as a bilateral agreement, should not be cited as a legal basis for the US to meddle in the maritime dispute. Japan should also be soberly aware that the US' involvement does not grant it the isles and waters it is not entitled to.
The US' meddling in the dispute over the Diaoyu Islands is detrimental to regional peace and stability, as it will only embolden the increasingly rightist Japan.
The second amendment is a blunt interference in China's internal affairs as it suggests the US sell advanced fighter jets to Taiwan. This breaks the pledge by the US to phase out arms sales to the Chinese island. The US arms sales to Taiwan, an inalienable part of China, are the most sensitive issue standing in the way of bilateral ties. Any mishandling of the issue could derail what is widely seen as the most important bilateral relationship in the world.
Although neither of the amendments would necessarily result in any policy change, as they only express "the sense of Congress", Obama would be wise to reject them both, as they will do a disservice to the building of a constructive China-US relationship based on mutual respect and mutual benefit.
The best choice at this moment is for the two countries to maintain the current good climate for bilateral ties, rather than provoking each other over sensitive issues.
(China Daily 12/24/2012 page8)