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China versus US:Will the South China Sea issue be a tipping point of China-U.S. relations?

The increasingly active U.S. military presence in the South China Sea region is fanning tensions in the region, and fueling concerns that it may lead to a tipping point in China-U.S. ties.

On Tuesday, a U.S. EP-3 aircraft undertook close reconnaissance near Hainan Island forcing two Chinese fighter jets, which maintained a safe distance from the aircraft, to track and monitor its activities.
United States flag-bearing warships and military aircraft have been engaged in reconnaissance in the guise of "freedom of navigation and flyover."

Last week, the guided-missile destroyer USS William P. Lawrence sailed within 12 nautical miles of Yongshu Jiao in the Nansha Islands without Chinese permission: A clear violation of China's sovereignty.

This incident, which occurred close to Hainan Island, brings a similar event to mind. On April 1, 2001, a U.S. EP-3 reconnaissance aircraft caused a Chinese fighter jet to crash in waters off Hainan, leading to the most serious diplomatic crisis between the two countries in decades.

The current military action in the region aggrandizes the chances of history repeating itself.

As it has yet to shake off its Cold War mentality when dealing with China, the United States seems intent on preventing a rising China from challenging its hegemony. This outlook is the root of its policies related to the South China Sea.

This mentality is outdated as peace and development are aspirations shared by both sides.

What would be the consequence should Chinese and U.S. aircraft collide over the South China Sea again, or similar incidents occur on the water between warships of the two countries?

China and the United States can agree on one thing: Neither wants the situation to escalate.

The two countries differ in the way they regard -- and handle -- the South China Sea issue, however, China-U.S. relations have never been better, and their common interests far outweigh their differences.

With bilateral exchanges in military, people-to-people and other fields increasing, and the two countries cooperating in global issues such as climate change and nuclear security, the South China Sea issue should not be allowed to a tipping point.

With over 100 exchange and dialogue mechanisms established between the two countries, differences can be controlled within limits, as long as both sides are sincere.

If the United States stops violating China's sovereignty and viewing it through an old-fashioned realistic geopolitical lens and, instead, takes a more constructive attitude toward China, it will find more converging interests.

Read more at Xinhuanet 

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