Cold War mentality fuels US satellite export prejudice

Chinese Vice Premier Wang Qishan (4th L back), together with Acting U.S. Commerce Secretary Rebecca Blank (4th R back) and U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk (3rd R back), attends a signing ceremony of the 23rd Session of China-U.S. Joint Commission on Commerce and Trade (JCCT), in Washington D.C., the United States, on December 19, 2012. (Zhang Jun/Xinhua)

By Wang Aihua and Gui Tao

Despite counting itself among China’s “partners,” the United States has failed to follow through on its promises.

Last week, the U.S. decided to maintain its controls on satellite exports to China, a decision that came less than a month after it pledged to export more high-tech products for civilian use to the Asian nation.

While relaxing satellite export restrictions for other countries, the White House upheld its controls for China. The move runs counter to the pledge the U.S. made at the 23rd China-U.S. Joint Commission for Commerce and Trade at the end of 2012.

The two countries define their relationship as “partners,” but the jittery U.S. obviously believes the restriction will prevent China, which it perceives as its top rival in the Asia-Pacific region, from improving its own technologies and thus becoming a threat.

However, the concerns are without merit. On various occasions, China has reaffirmed its commitment to peaceful development, and its relations with other countries offer proof in this regard.

In fact, this kind of strategic thinking on the part of the U.S. is what’s worrying. In the past year, it has started to shift its security priorities to the Asia-Pacific region and taken a more active part in the region’s affairs.

The shift was clearly directed at China, whose rapid rise has left the long-time superpower across the Pacific ill at ease.

It is understandable that the U.S. would not want to lose its place as a superpower, but it cannot maintain its position by containing emerging powers.

China has no interest in vying for dominance on the international arena. Chinese officials and scholars have repeatedly stressed their belief that China and the U.S. need to build a “community of interest,” a relationship based on their converging and shared concerns.

It would be wise for the U.S. to handle challenges by forging better cooperative ties with China and seeking more ways to benefit from the development of the world’s largest developing country.

Around the time of the signing of the National Defense Authorization Act of 2013, which contains the satellite export policy, U.S. media reported that China plans to test what the U.S. calls “anti-satellite technology” this month.

They asserted that such tests could put the country’s Global Positioning System (GPS) at risk of being attacked.

These tests should be no cause for concern, as China has the right to develop relevant technology that has only been mastered by the U.S., so far. But it begs the question: If the U.S. can do it, why can’t China?

It is time for the U.S. to abandon its Cold War mentality in which a powerful country with a different political system must be an antagonist.

A man of words and not deeds is like a garden full of weeds, and a superpower that calls itself a “responsible player” in the global arena should take more care to hoe its rows.

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