Tuesday, March 10, 2009

United States and China have too much to lose

It may well be that the economic and military power of the United States and the rising power of China are on an inevitable collision course, but nothing unforgettable is going to happen now. The two powerhouses need each other too much and get along too well to allow that to happen, particularly with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton due to arrive in China on Wednesday. So, Monday's incident involving a U.S. naval survey vessel and five Chinese military ships in the South China Sea cannot be anything serious, despite the rising level of rancor emanating from Washington and Beijing. China accused the United States of violating its exclusive economic zone, while U.S. officials accused the Chinese of "harassment," according to the Reuters international news service. Dennis Blair, the new U.S. National Intelligence Director, told the Senate Armed Services Committee in Washington that the incident reflected "a trend" in Chinese policies toward "military, aggressive" behavior. He called the incident the gravest between the two countries since the 2001 collision between a Chinese military plane and a U.S. surveillance plane off Hainan in 2001, Reuters said. That is probably true. But the 2001 incident was resolved peacefully even though China probably had a right to be upset about spying. Beijing has a key military base on the island.

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