Disruptive arms sales

Updated: 2011-08-18 08:17

(China Daily)

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There was a great deal of anticipation on either side of the Pacific, and indeed, beyond, prior to US Vice-President Joe Biden's visit to China, which started on Wednesday.

Such global attention underscores the importance the international community attaches to Sino-US relations, especially while the global economy remains mired in the fallout from the 2008 financial crisis.

As two big players on the world stage, Beijing and Washington should send positive signals to shore up global confidence. To this end, it is crucial that they continue to steer their bilateral ties onto smooth waters.

Sino-US relations have maintained a stable momentum in general after Chinese President Hu Jintao's visit to the US in January. That landmark event charted the future of bilateral cooperation for the next decade. To build on the good momentum, high-level exchanges are conducive to keeping the communication channels open and turning the political pledges of the two governments into concrete deeds.

China has always looked upon its relations with the US in terms of the larger picture and with a long-term perspective. Given that, a series of sensitive issues may cause friction again and chill relations, China has called on both sides to heed to each other's major concerns and core interests.

A look back at the trajectory of Sino-US ties in recent years shows that relations nosedived whenever Washington ignored Beijing's core interests and refused to work with Beijing to properly handle their differences.

The US has shown increasing concern over China's growing global influence and a new round of arms sales to Taiwan is brewing in Washington. Any misstep in dealing with the issue of US arms sales to Taiwan may disrupt the improving relationship between the two powers.

The US arms sales to Taiwan have remained the biggest source of disagreement between Washington and Beijing. While recognizing Taiwan as an inalienable part of China, Washington has continued to arm the island.

Biden should be aware that 29 years ago on same date as he arrived in Beijing, Washington signed a communiqu with Beijing, pledging that it "does not seek to carry out a long-term policy of arms sales to Taiwan" and "intends to reduce gradually its sales of arms to Taiwan, leading over a period of time to a final resolution."

Almost three decades have passed, and Washington has made little effort to honor those commitments. Instead, citing its Taiwan Relations Act, it continues to provide Taiwan with advanced weapons on a regular basis. Beijing has the right to demand Washington mend its ways.

Both countries shoulder the responsibility of maintaining world peace and development and a sound Sino-US relationship will enable them to fulfill their responsibilities. In this regard, they should bear in mind the following remark by Chinese President Hu Jintao: "We both stand to gain from a sound China-US relationship, and lose from confrontation."

(China Daily 08/18/2011 page8)


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