The last 36 years, since the establishment of diplomatic relations between China and the United States, have proved that mutual respect for sovereignty and territorial integrity is the basic principle for handling the Sino-US relations. When this principle is observed by both sides, the Sino-US relations move forward in a steady and healthy manner. For the overall interests of the Sino-US relations, China has always upheld the principle and never harmed US sovereignty and territorial integrity. However, the US has repeatedly violated the principle and harmed China’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, making big trouble for the smooth development of the Sino-US relations. While China, India, Brazil, and other major developing countries are rising economically, the US has felt that it is lagging behind them in the pace of economic growth. Under such changing world situation, the US still finds it very difficult to refrain from playing a “leadership role” in Asia and other parts of the world. But the US should not harm China’s national interests for the sake of its maintenance of so-called “leadership position” in the world.
It is known to all that normalization of Sino-US relations took place only when the US recognized the government of the People’s Republic of China as the sole legal government of China and that the US government acknowledges the Chinese position that there is but one China and Taiwan is part of China. But after the normalization of relations, the US has never given up its attempt to sell arms to Taiwan and even to conduct official exchanges with Taiwan. So far, US arms sales to Taiwan and its related military exchanges, as well as low-level officials’ exchanges, have not stopped. Recently, some US Congressmen and politicians have gone so far as to propose joint military exercises with the Taiwan military and exchanges of visits by more senior military officers in service. Clearly, it would be a serious violation of one-China principle and China’s sovereignty and territorial integrity. If these attempts and proposals should be realized, there would be new troubles for the Sino-US relations.
Another case of US violation of China’s sovereignty and territorial integrity is the US-Japan joint statement on China’s territory Diaoyu Islands in April 2014. The statement said, that ”the US has deployed its most advanced military assets to Japan and provides all necessary capabilities to meet its commitments under the US-Japan Treaty of Mutual Cooperation and Security. These commitments extend to all territories under the administration of Japan, including the Diaoyu Islands (in the US version, “the Senkaku Islands”)”. The Diaoyu Islands have been part of China’s territory since ancient times. It is a flagrant violation of China’s sovereignty and territorial integrity that the US commitments under the US-Japan Treaty of Mutual Cooperation and Security extend to China’s territory.
In the situation in the South China Sea, the first and foremost issue is that the US should stop making any statements that harm China’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, especially should refrain from conducting any possible military activities that could violate China’s sovereignty and territorial integrity. China has repeatedly declared that it has indisputable sovereignty over the Nansha islands and the adjacent waters, but the US has not demonstrated the minimum respect for China’s sovereignty and territorial integrity in the South China Sea. If the US could try to understand China’s position by studying related historical facts and the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, it would find it easier to believe that China’s position is well-founded, and that China and other Asian countries could resolve their disputes and differences peacefully and fairly by themselves. When the US truly acknowledges China’s position and shows sincere respect for China’s sovereignty and territorial integrity in the South China Sea, all other relevant issues between China and the US could be better understood and more easily resolved. The US will also come to know why its true intentions will be more clearly revealed by its loud talk about “US national interests” in safeguarding the freedom of navigation in the South China Sea at a time when there has been no problem at all with the freedom of navigation in the South China Sea. It will also come to understand why the increasing US military involvement in the disputes in the South China Sea will have serious consequences for itself.
First, US credibility will be seriously damaged. The US has no well-established reason to involve itself by military force in the territorial disputes in the South China Sea as it is not a party to those disputes. Second, the increasing US military activities in the South China Sea cannot solve any problems, but sabotage peace and tranquility in the region. Third, on questions of sovereignty and territorial integrity, China has no room for compromise or retreat. Any US invasion of China’s territorial waters or airspace could lead to conflict and confrontation with China, damaging Sino-US relations.
The US should show the same respect for China’s sovereignty and territorial integrity as China has always shown respect for US sovereignty and territorial integrity. It is the basic condition for the smooth and healthy development of the Sino-US relations. For the sake of the long-term interest of the two countries, the US should change course and truly treat China as an equal partner on the basis of mutual respect. If the US continues to play power politics in its relations with China, it can only reap counter-productive results, and in the end US national interests had to suffer.