US, China could avoid conflict if both commit

THE US and China could avoid a military collision in areas such as the South China Sea if both nations committed to talking to each other and trying to maintain stability.

Released yesterday, a report from the US Studies Centre at the University of Sydney found the risk of an incident in the air or at sea was "real", but "should not be exaggerated".

Report author Visiting Professor Linda Jakobsen wrote the two global powers were not on a collision as such, but to avoid a major conflict, leaders of both nations would have to remain committed to crafting policies that maintained stable ties.

"Over the years, many reported and unreported incidents have occurred without leading to conflict," she wrote.

"It is important not to be complacent about the risks, but these should not be exaggerated."

Prof Jakobsen wrote that ultimately it would come down to political leadership on both sides of the Pacific to keep to a "mature political relationship", but there was no "status quo" in such world affairs.