For over two decades, China-US military discussions have often been in a Catch-22 situation: Americans wanted technical discussions, say, on how to avoid close and dangerous encounters between ships and aircraft, while the Chinese would point out that these encounters in Chinese waters should simply stop. Americans would then cite their right to freedom of navigation and overflight, and ask Chinese ships monitoring American vessels to keep a safe distance. The Chinese response? You are safest when you stay away.
So, how can they avoid unwanted confrontation? The answer is: professionalism.