Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Great Sentiments about the Needs for Our Relationship with China. But I'm Left with All Questions, No Answers

Admiral Mike Mullen has an op-ed in today's NY Times that expresses some wonderful sentiments.  I just don't really think I learned anything from reading it.  Basic exchanges of information have gone on for a long time, I don't have a detailed enough knowledge to say whether or not current exchanges are much different but I can't see them as being any more than marginally so.  In any case, this kind of information sharing, while necessary, is hardly game changing on its own.

Where are more concrete initiatives, say something regarding the South China Sea?  Are efforts being made to examine how Chinese-American security concerns link in with economic concerns?  The Chinese certainly aren't shy about expressing some of their economic concerns in security and foreign policy terms, are we being similarly forthright?

I'm probably expecting too much, but while I think this article expresses praiseworthy sentiments I'm left feeling that I didn't read a single thing that makes me think that anything has changed or that relations are on a firmer basis.  This all seems very informal and non-binding, what's to prevent our next over-reaction or the next Chinese walk-out?  I don't see anything.

I should note, however, that the lines indicate that the admiral is responding to some specific critiques:

I’m not naïve. I understand the concerns of those who feel that any cooperation benefits China more than the United States. I just don’t agree. This relationship is too important to manage through blind suspicion and mistrust. We’ve tried that. It doesn’t work.

 On the whole, the op-ed leaves me without answers but with a big question, who exactly is it that is being responded to, and what is their argument?  And why is this being published now?

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