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Tipping point can be avoided

Updated: 2016-05-24 07:59
(China Daily)

Tipping point can be avoided

This satellite image shows the Yongshu Jiao of China's Nansha Islands. [Photo/Xinhua]

United States flag-bearing warships and military aircraft have repeatedly engaged in China reconnaissance in the guise of "freedom of navigation and overflight", fueling concerns that it may be the tipping point in China-US ties.

On Tuesday, a US EP-3 aircraft undertook close reconnaissance near Hainan Island forcing two Chinese fighter jets, which maintained a safe distance from the aircraft, to track and monitor its activities. Earlier, the guided-missile destroyer USS William P. Lawrence sailed within 12 nautical miles of Yongshu Reef in the Nansha Islands without Chinese permission: A clear violation of China's sovereignty according to international law.

What would be the consequences should Chinese and US aircraft collide over the South China Sea, or a collision occur between warships of the two countries?

China and the US can agree on one thing: Neither wants that.

The two countries differ in the way they regard-and handle-the South China Sea issue, however, their common interests far outweigh their differences.

With bilateral exchanges in military and other fields increasing, and the two countries cooperating in global issues such as climate change and nuclear security, the South China Sea issue should not be allowed to be the tipping point in their relations.

With over 100 exchange and dialogue mechanisms established between the two countries, differences can be controlled within limits, as long as both sides are sincere.

As the US has not yet shaken off its Cold War mentality when dealing with China, it seems intent on preventing a rising China from challenging its hegemony. This outlook is the root of its policies related to the region.

If the US stops violating China's sovereignty and viewing it through an old-fashioned geopolitical lens, it will find it has converging interests with China.

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