China is not causing the tensions in the South China Sea, rather by other Asian countries that occupied territories that have been long claimed by the Chinese government, according to Dongxiao Chen, president of the Shanghai Institute of International Studies during an interview with RT News.

China vs. U.S. South China Sea Japan
Image source: Wikimedia Commons

Chen noted that the United States appears to have changed its position of maintaining “neutrality” in the territorial disputes in the South China Sea.The other countries involved in the territorial disputes in the region turned to America, to challenge China’s claims. Because of this, it seems that the U.S. is trying to stir the tensions in the South China, which is a problem, according to Chen.

When asked whether the military exercises between the United States and its allies in the region could lead to war with China, Chen said, “Of course. The possibilities are always there. If we could not manage those differences, it is quite likely that those incidents mat escalate or spin out of control based a miscalculation.”

Chen added that China and the United States understood those differences. Both countries try to avoid confrontation because it is in their common interest.

China’s sends clear message to Washington on South China Sea issue

According to Chen, China already sent a clear message to Washington that the South China Sea is the most important area and keeping the sea line communication safe is the best for all countries including the United States.

Chen said China told the U.S. not to stir the tension in the South China Sea and try to manage their differences to maintain stability in the region. According to him, the U.S. is very concerned about the freedom of navigation. He suggested that Beijing and Washington could work together on the issue.

He pointed out that a confrontation between the China and the United States would be “insane to even really consider or to even start to consider.”

Common interest not enough to maintain peace between China and U.S.

Chen believes that having a common interest is not enough to keep the peace between China and the United States. According to him, both countries should cultivate a sense of mutual respect. Both countries must build a common understanding on the issue of regional order—how it will look like and how it should be done. Both countries must understand that there are specific issues.

“We shall not have these specific differences hijack overall relationship. What I mean, even if these common interests are exhausted at least there is a common understanding of these important norms of interacting with each other.”

If both countries exhausted their common interest and did not work out other common issues, Chen said it is likely that China and the U.S. will not expand their cooperation and will focus on their differences.

US-China relationship is a competitive partnership

However, Chen emphasized that China and the U.S. can be partners in building a new world order if both will not perceive each other as an adversary. He believes that both countries can find ways to expand cooperation such as fighting terrorism.

“There is a huge number of potential common interests going beyond their bilateral scope, but that depends upon whether both sides -Washington and China can share some basic norms and visions of the future,” said Chen.

Chen said the relationship between China and the United States was “extremely complicated. He said a single term such as adversary, competitor, or partner was not enough to describe their relationship. He calls the US-China relationship as a “competitive partnership.