US hype of China's 'military threat' undermines mutual trust

Updated: 2016-05-16 19:16


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BEIJING - The release of an annual report by the United States to hype up China's "military threat" will only undermine the strategic mutual trust between the two major countries.

For starters, the United States has no right to "monitor" the military strategy and force development of such a sovereign country as China.

China follows a national defense policy that is defensive in nature. Like any other country in the world, it has every legitimate reason to develop military forces to safeguard its sovereignty and peaceful development.

In the report based on flawed information, the Pentagon "estimates" that China's total military-related spending for 2015 exceeded 180 billion US dollars, saying it seems that China will sustain defense spending growth in the foreseeable future despite its economic growth deceleration.

But the Pentagon failed to notice that Beijing announced its plan in March to raise the 2016 defense budget by only 7.6 percent, the lowest percentage in six years, to about 146 billion dollars in the face of rising economic headwinds and following last year's massive reduction of service people.

The 146 billion dollars is in fact only about a quarter of that of the United States, whose defense budget for the 2017 fiscal year is 582.7 billion dollars. This contrasts the fact that China's GDP is already two thirds of that of the United States.

The great gap between the two countries' defense budgets easily reveals who is more likely to be a "military threat" to the world.

Secondly, the report, released amid rising tensions around the South China Sea issue, smears China's legitimate activities in the East China Sea and South China Sea.

China's sovereignty over the Nansha Islands and related rights in the South China Sea were formed in history and have long been widely recognized.

China's construction on the Nansha Islands serves mostly civilian purposes, and helps fulfil its international responsibilities and obligations by providing more public services.

In fact, it is Washington's pivot to Asia and its meddling in the waters of the Asia-Pacific that have stoked tensions in the South China Sea.

The United States, an outsider of the maritime disputes, has frequently sent military aircraft and warships to the region on excuse of exercising "freedom of navigation" based on the innocent passage stipulated by the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), to which it is not even a signatory.

As a matter of fact, the UNCLOS states very clearly that passage is innocent only if "it is not prejudicial to the peace, good order or security of the coastal State."

The UN law also stipulates that foreign ships exercising the right to innocent passage through a territorial sea shall comply with related laws and regulations of the coastal State.

According to the "Law of the People's Republic of China Concerning the Territorial Sea and the Contiguous Zone" enacted in 1992, foreign warships entering China's territorial waters should obtain prior approval from the Chinese government.

Obviously, the US warships' incursion into China's territorial sea violated both Chinese and international law.

Besides, the US suspicion about Chinese military missions abroad as expressed in the report is unfounded. As a responsible major country, China has increasingly been engaged in overseas missions for peacekeeping, disaster relief, among others, to contribute to global peace and stability.

In essence, the United States is attempting to expand its global military presence and increase weapon exports by making and hyping up China's "military threat".

Washington should be reminded that its involvement in the maritime territorial disputes would make things worse and its imagined contention with China would sow the seeds of a self-fulfilling prophecy.

For the interests of both countries and the world at large, the US side should take tangible actions to promote healthy and stable development of its relations with China and refrain from harmful deeds.