Several weeks after a political blitz through South and East Asia, Washington is seeking to reassure Chinese leaders that the US is not looking for an Asian cold war, not trying to contain China, and does not view China as an adversary. The WSJ has the story:
Michèle Flournoy, the under secretary of defense for policy, said Thursday that China and the U.S. both wanted to move forward with their military relationship, and planned to re-schedule for next year joint antipiracy drills and other exchanges postponed by Beijing after the Taiwan arms sales were announced in September…[Flournoy] said she sought to reassure Beijing that it wasn’t the target of a U.S. strategic shift toward Asia, including the deployment of 2,500 Marines to Australia.
Cooperation on military affairs is a constructive way to for China and the US to maintain a their relationship. After all, America’s goal in Asia isn’t to win a cold war with China. It is to avoid a cold war with China while building a peaceful, prosperous Asia in which the interests of all Asian states, including China as the largest regional power, are respected. That may or may not be possible, but whether we have Democrats or Republicans in the White House, it is likely to be our national goal for many years to come.Better mil-mil relations matter; we should take it as a very good sign that instead of suspending these talks, China decided to go ahead with them. People in the US often think of the Pentagon and diplomacy as antithetical, but over the decades some of America’s most important diplomacy has taken place through mil-mil contacts. Engaging more deeply with China’s military leaders will significantly enhance our ability to avoid conflict while standing up for core interests and values in the region.