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China’s Global Times Issues Very Calm Response to Trump’s First ‘Freedom of Navigation’ Provocation in the South China Sea

May 25, 2017 (EIRNS)—Although China’s Defense Ministry issued a formal complaint about the U.S. "provocation" after the guided-missile destroyer U.S.S. Dewey sailed within 12 nautical miles of Mischief Reef in the Spratly Islands Wednesday, the editorial from the party newspaper Global Times reflects a careful and precise reading of the so-called "freedom of navigation operation" (FONOP), the first since President Trump came to office.

The Global Times editorial notes that "several requests by the U.S. Pacific Command for such operations were rejected by the new president" previous to this incident. They note that neither the Pentagon nor the White House has issued any statement about the incident, "in comparison to the former Obama administration, which often assumed a higher profile when the U.S. Navy engaged in such operations."

They continue that how much "negative impact" will come from the incident

"will be decided by the degree of their provocative actions and the stance of the U.S. military, foreign affairs and administration sectors in releasing the news. If Washington hypes up the operation, it means it intends to cause more turmoil in the South China Sea."

Key to the situation is the calming of the tension in the South China Sea, they write, since both the Philippines and Vietnam have dropped their confrontational mode, which had been pushed on them by Obama. "There have been gradual signs of stability in the South China Sea," the editorial states,

"as Beijing and Manila have started negotiations over their prolonged territorial dispute. The U.S. Navy can hardly sustain the pretence of their FONOPs."

Their conclusion:

"China should learn to maneuver with the U.S. in the South China Sea. Power is not the paramount factor there; wisdom and strategies matter more. The focus of the China-U.S. relationship is not the South China Sea. Nor is it the East China Sea. Currently, both countries are behaving in a rational way. Obama left an empty legacy despite his ambitious rebalancing strategy, while a pragmatic Trump is looking for his own ways to leave his mark.... China and the U.S., two major powers in the world, need to have a broader vision together. U.S. military officers who serve at the frontline should adopt a more prudent attitude."