fredag 5. februar 2021

US and China should learn from the Cold War to avoid an arms race and conflict

Last October, US and Chinese defence officials convened their first Crisis Communications Working Group to discuss crisis prevention and management. The meeting was unusual in discussing “crisis” for the first time, rather than “accidents”. It showed that the two militaries have begun to worry about things getting out of hand when bilateral ties go into free fall.

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.