Cooperation, Not Confrontation, Key to Avoiding Sino-U.S. Conflict

January 26, 2012
By Robert K. Ackerman
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The United States should avoid thinking of China as a potential adversary and work to engage the emerging Asian power, suggested experts in a West 2012 panel. The experts decried the notion of applying Cold War tactics to U.S. China policy and instead supported making China part of an overall Asia policy. China is a rising force in the military arena, and the United States should pay attention to it as it shapes its Asia-Pacific presence. Vice Adm. John M. Bird, USN, director of Navy Staff and former commander of the Seventh Fleet, said that the United States should interact with China on a military-to-military basis. It will be to the U.S. benefit, particularly given the "astounding" growth of China's naval capabilities. "All the adjectives that you could apply to their economy, you could apply to their navy," the admiral said. Dr. Alan J. Vick, senior political scientist at Rand Corporation, described the U.S.-China relationship as complex with good and bad elements. He emphasized that China is not another Soviet Union, so the United States should not adopt Cold War practices. A NATO of the Pacific is "neither likely nor needed," he said. Vice Adm. Ann E. Rondeau, USN, president, National Defense University, noted that in the bipolar world of the Cold War, the United States was superb at playing chess. Now, the nation is engaged in what she described as a three-dimensional chess game, and the moves of the old game no longer apply.

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