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US knows what it must do to restart military-to-military communication: China Daily editorial

chinadaily.com.cn | Updated: 2023-09-27 22:58

The United States Space Force is exploring in internal discussions the possibility of creating a hotline with the Chinese military to avoid crises in space.

"What we have talked about, on the US side at least, is opening up a line of communication to make sure that if there is a crisis, we know who we can contact," Chief of Space Operations General Chance Saltzman told Reuters on Monday in Japan. But he also acknowledged it is not in the works yet.

It remains to be seen if the White House or US State Department will bring the matter up in talks with the Chinese side, and whether the latter will embrace such an idea.

Asked about the matter at the Chinese Foreign Ministry's regular briefing on Tuesday, spokesman Wang Wenbin diverted the question to "competent authorities", saying at present contact between the two militaries has been suspended because of "reasons the US side is well aware of", not least, the US sanctions on the Chinese defense minister.

Beijing rejected a call from the US Defense Department in February after the latter shot down what at the time it hyped up as a "spy balloon", saying the US side had "not created the proper atmosphere" for dialogue and exchanges. It later refused to arrange a face-to-face discussion between the two countries' defense chiefs on the sidelines of the Shangri-La Forum in Singapore using the same excuse.

Beijing has repeatedly argued Washington should show "sincerity" with "practical moves" in exchange for the kind of communication the US side has demanded. After all, Washington is apparently bent on an all-out offensive to suppress the Chinese military's modernization. Its global initiative to throttle the Chinese semiconductor industry, for instance, is explicitly aimed at slowing down the Chinese military's capabilities. In such a sense, the "proper atmosphere" that Beijing wanted remains absent.

Creating a dedicated hotline between the two countries' space forces may or may not be absolutely necessary for smooth communication in case of emergencies. But the conspicuous lack of communication channels between the two militaries is a worrying fact that must be properly addressed. The more the two militaries distrust each other, the more they need proper communication channels to avoid unintended crises.

It's becoming obvious that the two countries' overall relations are increasingly being taken hostage by a sense of geopolitical confrontation, and tensions keep escalating between the two militaries in the sea and air, across the Taiwan Strait and in the East China Sea and South China Sea. Given this, there is a need for active military-to-military communication channels to make sure they don't come to blows because of a misjudgment or misunderstanding of each other's intentions.

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