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The United States' military reconnaissance activity in China's coastal area : causes and countermeasures

English Abstract

The United States frequently conducts military reconnaissance activities in China’s coastal areas and thus causes several serious military confrontation between China and the US. This paper first select three prominent examples of military confrontation which happened in China’s coastal areas and in different times, and then using realism theory from three angles including international structure, national interest factor and trust problem to analyze the background and causes of the incident. The analysis revealed that the most fundamental causes of the incident are due to different interests of China and the US. China is pursuing its own territorial integrity and sovereignty, while the United States is pursuing more international interest, namely maintain the status of the United States as the world hegemony. In the process of China and the United States in the pursuit of self-interest, it result in a conflict and competition, which led to the mutual distrust between China and the US and even deepening structural contradictions. Therefore, the US sent military aircraft and ships to conduct surveillance activities in China’s coastal areas in spite of Chinese opposition, and China is also resolutely fight back. Actually, the nature of these events between China and the US in China’s coastal areas is a microcosm of China-US relations. Because China will not give up in safeguarding sovereignty and territorial integrity, and the United States will not give up to maintain its hegemony in the world, so similar incidents will still happen in the future. Both sides need to work together to avoid more serious incidents which would damage overall China-US relations. This paper then analyzes the foundation of Sino-US cooperation, including three areas: first, peaceful development is the main theme, both China and the US needs a peaceful environment to achieve national development; second, China and the US share extensive common interests in the Asia region; third, China and the US already has some communication and dialogue mechanism. Therefore, based on these foundations, it is likely that China and the US reach a unified opinion on the issue of military reconnaissance in China’s coastal areas. Finally, the paper gives some suggestions to reduce and prevent recurrence of such incidents.

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Zhu, Ting Ting


Faculty of Social Sciences


Department of Government and Public Administration




Military surveillance -- United States

China -- Foreign relations -- United States

United States -- Foreign relations -- China


Chen, Ding Ding

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