WASHINGTON, Sept. 2 (Xinhua) -- The United States is facing an opportunity of further improving the U.S.-China relations and boosting mutual strategic trust, when two top U.S. government officials visit Beijing in September.
State Secretary Hillary Clinton is to arrive in Beijing Tuesday for talks with top Chinese officials on a wide range of issues of common concern. She will be followed by Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, who is expected to conduct his first trip to China later this month with an eye to expanding mutual military ties.
The world's attention will focus on how the two U.S. officials will explain to the Chinese side the true intentions of the Obama administration's Pivot to Asia policy, especially its new defense strategy.
Since last fall, the Obama administration has been implementing the Pivot policy by expanding and intensifying its political, diplomatic and military involvement in the Asia-Pacific region. The fundamental goal underpinning this shift is to maintain the U.S. dominance in the resources-rich and fastest-growing region, amid heightened concerns about China's rise.
As major part of its Pivot policy, Washington has quickened the pace of increasing its military presence and engagement in the Asia Pacific, including deploying troops in Australia, boosting military cooperation with Japan, and purposely strengthening military ties with some Asian countries, particularly the Philippines and Vietnam, both involved in territorial disputes with China.
The U.S. strategic shift has raised more questions than answers: Is the U.S. Pivot policy really intended to bolster peace and stability in the Asia-Pacific region? Can the U.S. really play a fair role over the territorial disputes in the region? Does the U.S. mean it when it pledges not to seek to contain China?
Many of the U.S. actions so far have been counterproductive to promoting peace and stability in the Asia Pacific, as indicated by the fact that the security situation in the region has been worsening, rather than improving, mainly due to the recent escalation of the territorial disputes in the East China Sea and the South China Sea.
Washington, which claims not to take sides in the disputes, is partly blamed for fueling the tensions because it has apparently emboldened certain relevant parties to make provocations against China in order to achieve undeserved territorial gains.
This was evident in the tense standoff in April over the Huangyan Island in the South China Sea, triggered by the Philippines' sending of a navy ship to harass Chinese fishermen operating legally in China's territorial sea.
Manila sees the U.S. pivot and increased support as an opportunity to challenge China in order to achieve its illegitimate goals in the South China Sea.
Ironically, while turning a blind eye to Manila's provocative acts, the U.S. State Department in August unfairly criticized China for upgrading the administrative level of Sansha City and establishing a military garrison there, which was a justified response to foreign provocations.
And when tensions escalated between China and Japan over the Diaoyu Islands in August, the United States started a month-long joint military drill with Japan mocking the taking of islands, a move regarded as signaling Washington's support to Tokyo in the dispute.
Meanwhile, despite its pledge to strengthen the U.S.-China military ties and mutual strategic trust, Washington has so far refused to promise to halt arms sales to Taiwan, cease close-range military reconnaissance of China, and stop discrediting China's promise for peaceful development.
Clinton is right in saying last week that the Pacific is big enough for all countries including the United States and China, but she did not mention that it is also small enough to create conflicts that can threaten peace in the region and the world at large, if Washington does not act fairly and responsibly.
China respects the U.S. promises not to seek to contain China but to develop a positive relationship of cooperation between the two countries.
However, Washington owes Beijing a thorough, convincing explanation of the true intentions of its Pivot policy, especially on issues related to China's vital or core interests. And the United States also needs to take concrete steps to prove that it is returning to Asia as a peacemaker, instead of a troublemaker.
This is just what China expects to come out of the upcoming visits to Beijing by both Clinton and Panetta.