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US only has itself to blame for stalled military exchanges

By LI YANG | CHINA DAILY | Updated: 2023-05-29 07:11

An American flag flies outside of the US Capitol dome in Washington, US, Jan 15, 2020. [Photo/Agencies]

Washington has complained of Beijing's nonchalance with regard to its request for a meeting between Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin and his Chinese counterpart Li Shangfu at the Shangri-La Dialogue in Singapore on June 2-4.

The latest push was on Thursday when Ely Ratner, assistant secretary of defense for "Indo-Pacific" security affairs, stressed in Washington that Beijing still hasn't given a formal response to the US request for the meeting.

"Secretary Austin and the Department of Defense initiated a request to meet with General Li, and that request has not been answered one way or another," said Ratner. "The ball is in their court at this point."

In saying that, the US side is intent on blaming Beijing for the current difficulties in promoting military exchanges between the two sides. That is not the case.

To begin with, Li Shangfu, who took the post of China's defense minister in March, has been under the US' sanctions for China's purchase of foreign weapons since 2018 when he headed the Equipment Development Department of the Chinese military.

When asked earlier this month whether Washington is intending to lift the sanctions, which is in essence a long-arm jurisdiction and has no legal basis in international law, the US State Department gave a clear negative reply. It said that the sanctions on Li do not prevent him from conducting official meetings with his American counterparts, nor should sanctions be hurdles for military talks between Washington and Beijing.

The farce is a vivid example showing the hypocrisy of the US' sanctions and its understanding of the basic norms of international relations, such as mutual respect and equality.

Meanwhile, the US side has never ceased trespassing across Beijing's redline on the Taiwan question through various means, showing no concerns to China's core interests and also ruining the atmosphere for the exchanges between the two defense ministers.

True China has also sanctioned some US entities and individuals to counter the US' hegemonic actions. But not only the number is much fewer but also the causes are invariably solidly supported by substantial evidences showing the long-term threats of those under sanctions to China's sovereignty and territorial integrity and core interests. More importantly, the list is made with due prudence to avoid affecting the overall development of Sino-US relations.

If the US side treats its coercion of, bullying of and suppression on China as leverage in any dialogue, its request for dialogue will always be met with a cold shoulder.

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