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May 27, 2017

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US-China confrontation would be a disaster

Confrontation with the United States would be a "disaster," Chinese President Xi Jinping said last week as he called for mutual respect between the U.S. and China. His comments came at an annual China-U.S. dialogue held in Beijing. "China-U.S. confrontation, to the two countries and the world, would definitely be a disaster," he said out, adding, "We should mutually respect and treat each other equally, and respect the other's sovereignty and territorial integrity and respect each other's choice on the path of development."

It certainly would be and should be. U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, who met Xi in Beijing, said the United States did "not seek to contain China" and urged China not to "interpret it as any overall strategy" when the United States differed from the People's Republic. U.S. President Barack Obama also said in a statement that the United States "welcomes the emergence of a stable, peaceful, and prosperous China." On the other hand, Michael Fuchs, deputy assistant secretary of state for East Asian and Pacific Affairs, said at the State Department Annual South China Sea Conference that China's recent actions in disputed areas heightened regional tensions and the United States has invested more than US$156 million to advance the capabilities of "our partners" in the maritime domain. He also called for a freeze of actions such as a Chinese oil rig in the Paracel Islands. Islands in the South China Sea are claimed not just by China but also Taiwan, the Philippines, Vietnam and other countries as well.

Aside from the South China Sea, Beijing is locked in bitter disputes with Uncle Sam's most important ally in Asia, Japan, over the Senkaku/Diaoyu Islands in the East China Sea, and the United States stepped up joint military exercises with the Philippines and its military presence there. Increased anti-Japanese rhetoric has also come from China in recent weeks, following a decision by the Japanese cabinet to reinterpret the constitution, thereby giving the Japanese military greater latitude to fight overseas.

All this has convinced Beijing that Obama is paying lip service to respect and that the containment of China is real.

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