Wash Times piece on Chairman of the Joint Chiefs Admiral Mike Mullen’s counterpart in China (Chen Bingde) saying that US naval ex’s in regional waters with local friends (Vietnam, Philippines, etc.) are “inappropriate.” Mullen replies that they’re not directed at China, which, of course, is the whitest of lies. The US sells beaucoup arms to all the same players and exercises with them to give them confidence vis-a-vis “rising China.” Fair enough.
But if you want China to play “responsible stakeholder,” you need to invite it to your reindeer games, and naval ex’s are perfect for this. So why doesn’t the US invite the People’s Liberation Army Navy to every such ex? They check us out; we check them out. Transparency is heightened, etc.
Think about it from the golden rule perspective: don’t do to China in its regional waters what you wouldn’t accept from it in your own. Eventually, we must move to this standard so we can move beyond this petty, small-steps phase that we’ve been stuck in for several decades now. We treat China like a potential enemy and so it acts like one. We want Beijing to grow up, but we need to do a bit ourselves. We need to move beyond the need for the “near-peer competitor” planning paradigm.