Chinese Defense Ministry Wants Closer Ties to U.S. Military

Chinese President Xi Jinping reviews a naval parade Thursday in the South China Sea.
Ministry of National Defense of the People's Republic of China

Chinese Defense Ministry spokesman Wu Qian said on Friday that the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) desires closer relations with the U.S. military – and then blamed the U.S. for taking “provocative” actions that make such a close relationship difficult.

Wu said China wants to be friends, but Washington insists on such aggressive policies as supporting Taiwan, challenging China’s territorial claims in the South China Sea, and monitoring Chinese military movements.

“As we have said many times, China has principles for the development of relations between the two militaries, which is that China’s sovereignty, dignity and core interests cannot be violated,” Wu said.

“On the Taiwan issue in particular, China has no room for compromise and the U.S. should not have any illusions,” he added.

Wu objected to U.S. officials describing China as a “strategic threat,” accusing them of “paranoia” and “persecution.”

“People who are addicted to and chasing hegemony always feel that others are coveting their hegemony,” he sniffed. “Their purpose is simply to find excuses for their own pursuit of absolute superiority in the military field and the maintenance of global hegemony,”

In truth, China is the party raising tensions across the Pacific – everywhere from the skies of Taiwan, which have been filled with a large number of Chinese warplanes lately, to the Philippines, which is resisting aggressive Chinese attempts to seize disputed shoals by force.

Philippine Defense Minister Delfin Lorenzana on Thursday rejected China’s demands for Philippine forces to remove their unusual outpost from the disputed Second Thomas Shoal as “baseless.”

Lorenzana said China is the “trespasser” on the shoal, which has been blockaded by Chinese coast guard ships over the past few days. Philippine vessels were blocked from resupplying the small contingent of troops based on the BRP Sierra Madre, a rusty ship deliberately run aground in 1999 so the Philippine military could use it as an observation post.

“Ayungin Shoal lies within our EEZ, where we have sovereign rights. Our EEZ was awarded to us by the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, which China ratified. China should abide by its international obligations,” said Lorenzana, using the Philippines’ preferred name for the landmark.

The U.S. State Department said last week that America “stands with our ally, the Philippines, in the face of this escalation that directly threatens regional peace and stability.”

The State Department said China’s blockade of the Second Thomas Shoal “escalates regional tensions, infringes upon freedom of navigation in the South China Sea as guaranteed under international law and undermines the rules-based international order.”

The State Department said America would respond to any “armed attack on Philippine public vessels” under relevant defense treaties.

Australian Defense Minister Peter Dutton also denounced China’s “alarming” actions on Friday, pointing to its bullying of Taiwan and relentless militarization of the South China Sea.

“We’re all familiar with the frequent claims of the Chinese government that it is committed to peace, cooperation and development. And yet we bear witness to a significant disconnect between the words and the actions. We’ve watched very closely as the Chinese government has engaged in increasingly alarming activities,” he said.

The Australian government on Thursday took note of Chinese surveillance ships operating near the Australian coast in July and August, passing through its Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ). 

Prime Minister Scott Morrison said that in contrast with China’ incessant complaints about U.S. Navy Freedom of Navigation operations (FONOP) in the South China Sea and Taiwan Strait, Australia was willing to acknowledge the Chinese ships did take illegal actions.

“It does mean that Australia has to be on its guard and Australia has to stand up to those who want to coerce us… and slap trade sanctions on things like our wine, and our government is standing up to that,” Morrison said, alluding to punitive Chinese sanctions against Australian goods.


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