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US Needs To Re-calibrate Relationship with China

US Needs To Re-calibrate Relationship with China


Excerpts: Senator Thompson February 15 Remarks on China (U.S. "needs to re-calibrate" relationship with China)

U.S. Senator Fred Thompson, Chairman of the Senate Committee on Governmental Affairs, told members of the Conservative Political Action Committee February 15 in Washington, D.C. that he believes "increased trade and engagement may help open up China in the long run, and give the Chinese people the means to bring about political, social, and economic reform."

"But in the short term, Washington needs to re-calibrate its relationship with Beijing," Thompson said.

Thompson, a Republican senator from Tennessee, said the United States must be clear and consistent about its commitment to universal principles such as human rights and religious freedom and its desire to advance the rule of law and democracy.

"[That] means speaking out against China's practices during official meetings and at international forums, such as the upcoming U.N. Human Rights Commission meeting in Geneva ... public opinion is a powerful tool that we must use, together with our allies, to improve China's behavior," Thompson said.

According to Thompson, the United States also:

-- Must welcome China into the World Trade Organization (WTO), because China's participation in the WTO is important to U.S. long-term economic growth as well as China's long term political reform.

-- Must demand that Beijing stick to its WTO agreements, abide by the rules of the WTO, and support Taiwan's simultaneous accession to the WTO.

-- Must make it clear to China that the United States will not tolerate the continued transfer of sensitive, commercially-available "dual-use" technologies to rogue states and others, or for China's own military modernization efforts.

-- Should deploy as soon as technologically possible a robust, multi-tiered missile defense system despite China's "very aggressive public affairs campaign designed to scare U.S. policymakers and experts into halting this initiative."

-- Needs to strengthen its bonds with key U.S. allies in the region such as Japan and South Korea, and continue to engage all countries in the region.

-- Has "a moral and a strategic interest" in ensuring that Taiwan remains a free and democratic people with close ties to the United States.

"To that end, we need to provide Taiwan with the means to defend itself and maintain the balance of power in the Taiwan Strait," Thompson said.

With respect to national security issues, Thompson said the United States needs to dedicate more resources and attention to bolstering U.S. intelligence capabilities; tightening security at U.S. national labs, facilities, and federal agencies; strengthening U.S. export controls and making them more effective; and ensuring the U.S. armed forces are the best trained and equipped in the world, and are able to meet the new, very technically sophisticated threats that are emerging.

"[The United States] must demonstrate strength as well as restraint to [China] and the rest of the world," Thompson said.

"I believe that involves engaging in trade and hoping for democratic change while at the same time remaining clear and firm about our policies, priorities, and interests," he said.

Following are excerpts of Thompson's comments:

(begin excerpts)

China and U.S. National Security by Senator Fred Thompson (R-TN)

February 15, 2001

Many experts are now focusing on China's future. The optimists point out that China is not an immediate military threat to the United States or our interests, nor is it an ideological or military threat as the Soviet Union was during the Cold War. China doesn't have the revolutionary zeal of its earlier generations, and Communism is not very attractive around the world these days. They point out that there is an evolution going on in China; that there is a growing private sector yearning for freedom.

The optimists argue that with the advent of the internet and modern telecommunications, along with free trade, China will become more free and open. They believe that the old guard will not be able to control the changes that will take place in China, much like the Soviets couldn't in the late 1980s.

Pessimists, on the other hand, point out that China is an emerging power, and that emerging powers more often than not try to change the realities of the world around them rather than adapting to the existing international framework, which tends to benefit the world's preeminent states. They point out that there are natural, built-in tensions between democracies and totalitarian regimes that produce different mind sets. They think differently, react differently, and interpret things differently. History has shown us that these differences quite often lead to misunderstandings ... and conflict.

Pessimists also point to a Chinese white paper on national defense, which was released last November, that characterizes the United States as a global menace and a threat to peace. A Washington Post analysis stated that "In government pronouncements, stories in the state-run press, books and interviews, the United States is now routinely portrayed as 'Enemy No. 1.'"

Furthermore, pessimists point out that our efforts to reach out to China have borne little fruit. Instead, Chinese bellicosity and disregard for U. S. interests have actually increased, particularly with regard to Taiwan. A DoD report on China's military power, which was delivered to Congress last year, said that China's leaders have been discussing ways to offset U.S. power, which include: accelerating their military modernization, pursuing strategic cooperation with Russia, and increasing China's proliferation activities abroad. Beijing's recent "amity pact" with Moscow, its ongoing purchases of advanced Russian aircraft, missiles and naval vessels, and its continued proliferation of sensitive technologies to rogue states support the conclusions of this report.

No one is sure how China will evolve, but we do know that the United States has some very short term and immediate matters to deal with that may determine the paths our countries follow. For sure, one has to do with the signals we send the PRC with regard to a host of matters....

A New Relationship with China

As the Bush Administration takes the reins of power and begins to map out a new American national security strategy, I am confident they will not repeat the mistakes of the recent past when it comes to China. The President is correct when he says that China is neither our enemy nor our strategic partner; China is clearly our competitor. I think this is a fair and balanced assessment of the PRC. 'For while we are troubled by their proliferation record, regional assertiveness, and bellicose statements toward the United States and our friends in Asia, we can be encouraged by the desire of the Chinese people for greater political freedom, individual rights, and reform.

Like many, I believe that increased trade and engagement may help open up China in the long run, and give the Chinese people the means to bring about political, social, and economic reform. But in the short term, Washington needs to re-calibrate its relationship with Beijing. Progress can only be achieved when we speak clearly and act firmly in accordance with our core principles, priorities, and policies. But while hoping for the best, we must prepare for less desirable scenarios.

I believe we must be clear and consistent about our commitment to universal principles such as human rights and religious freedom, and our desire to advance the rule of law and democracy. The United States cannot shrink from carrying this message abroad, which means speaking out against China's practices during official meetings and at international forums, such as the upcoming U.N. Human Rights Commission meeting in Geneva. What the United States says and how it says it not only defines us, but can also have a positive impact abroad. Communist leaders seek acceptance and legitimacy abroad. Therefore, public opinion is a powerful tool that we must use, together with our allies, to improve China's behavior.

The United States must also welcome China into the World Trade Organization, for its participation is important to our long term economic growth as well as China's long term political reform. But while doing so, we must demand that Beijing stick to its agreements, abide by the rules of the WTO, and support Taiwan's entry into the WTO at the same time. The road ahead for China will most surely be rocky. WTO rules and more open competition in China may well spur social unrest, unemployment, and turmoil within the Communist Party. It might even challenge the Party's hold on power, which would reverberate far beyond the mainland with unpredictable consequences.

The U.S. walks a delicate tightrope as it balances national security, foreign policy and trade with China. Free trade and open markets are essential to continued prosperity, and promoting our values abroad are also important, but our national security cannot be sacrificed for the promise of future profits. Nowhere is this choice between trade and security more difficult, or more important, than in the area of China's continued proliferation activities, including its diversion of sensitive, commercially-available "dual-use" technologies.

We must be clear to the PRC that the U.S. will not tolerate the continued transfer of these dangerous items to rogue states and others, or for China's own military modernization efforts. After all, at a time when China is being invited to become a member in good standing of the global trading community, is it asking too much for a fellow permanent member of the U.N. Security Council to also obey international rules and norms with regard to the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction?

Next, the United States should deploy as soon as technologically possible a robust, multitiered missile defense system that will protect us against ballistic missiles from rogue states like North Korea. Beijing is deeply concerned that NMD will nullify its own strategic deterrent, and could even lead to missile defenses for Taiwan. The PRC has launched a very aggressive public affairs campaign designed to scare U.S. policymakers and experts into halting this initiative, threatening everything from increasing proliferation and limiting trade, to starting a new arms race in Asia. Beijing has also threatened to build up their own nuclear forces. Of course, China and Russia the other major critic of NMD --- are already modernizing their nuclear forces, and have been doing so for years. The bottom line is that the United States must act in its national interests to protect our country.

Taiwan is the single issue most likely to draw us into a conflict with China. It is also the sole issue that ties together the core U.S. interests I've outlined above: promoting American values abroad; advancing free trade and open markets; and protecting U.S. national security. Taiwan is a vibrant democracy that has embraced many of the rights and values we share here in the United States. It is also an economic dynamo that thrives on free trade, open markets, and entrepreneurship, and is one of our largest trading partners. United States policy toward Taiwan and China is firmly established; it is written into law (the Taiwan Relations Act) and is defined by both precedent and practice. But more important than laws and history, the United States has a moral and a strategic interest in ensuring that a free and democratic people with close ties to our country remain so, and that our other friends and allies in the region know that we will stand by them and honor our commitments. To that end, we need to provide Taiwan with the means to defend itself and maintain the balance of power in the Taiwan Strait. If we do not, we only invite a conflict that could otherwise be prevented.

In addition, the United States needs to strengthen its bonds with key U.S. allies in the region such as Japan and South Korea, and continue to engage all countries in the region.

Finally, the United States needs to dedicate more resources and attention to bolstering our intelligence capabilities; tightening security at our national labs, facilities, and federal agencies; strengthening our export controls and making them more effective; and ensuring our armed forces are the best trained and equipped in the world, and are able to meet the new, very technically sophisticated threats that are emerging. These are the building blocks of a credible national security apparatus. They ensure the efficacy of our foreign policy, guarantee our freedom of action on the world stage, and underlie our leadership in global affairs.

Conclusion

It goes without saying that we do not want a shaky relationship with a country as important as China to degenerate further. It is equally obvious that turning a blind eye toward activity that is harmful to our interests has not improved our relationship with China; we must demonstrate strength as well as restraint to them and the rest of the world. I believe that involves engaging in trade and hoping for democratic change while at the same time remaining clear and firm about our policies, priorities, and interests. We cannot afford to take the one approach without the other.

(end excerpts)

(Distributed by the Office of International Information Programs, U.S. Department of State. Web site: http://usinfo.state.gov)

ENDS


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