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David Shear, China-- Recent Security Developments, Jan. 13, 2010

Shear is Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs.
January 13, 2010

David B. Shear
Deputy Assistant Secretary, Bureau of East Asian and Pacific Affairs
Statement before the House Armed Services Committee
Washington , DC
January 13, 2010

Chairman Skelton, Mr. McKeon, and Members of the Committee: thank you for inviting me to appear before you today. My colleagues from the Department of Defense have already addressed our military-to-military relations with China, so my remarks will focus on the President’s November trip to Asia, as well as our broader security goals regarding China and the region.

Since coming to office, President Obama has repeatedly stated that the United States welcomes the emergence of China, and that “in an interconnected world, power does not need to be a zero-sum game.” We welcome an international role for China in which “its growing economy is joined by growing responsibility.” President Obama’s trip to Asia in November 2009, with stops in Japan, Singapore, China, and South Korea, was intended to demonstrate the U.S. commitment to the region, build trust, articulate our values on issues such as human rights, and strengthen and expand our cooperation with China.

The trip was productive in this regard. During his first ever visit to China, the President deepened his acquaintance with his Chinese counterparts and demonstrated to them the importance we place on cooperating on such issues as Iran, North Korea and Afghanistan. The President set the stage for further cooperation with China in preparation for the Copenhagen conference on Climate Change. He discussed exchange rates and trade, clean energy, military-to-military exchanges, human rights, and stopping the spread of nuclear weapons. We outlined the key accomplishments of the visit in a Joint Statement issued by President Obama and President Hu Jintao on November 17.

It has been said before that in order to get China right, you have to get the region right. The United States is a vital contributor to Asian security and economic prosperity. Our active presence in Asia helps promote regional security and stability. We intend to deepen our engagement and strengthen our leadership in the region by strengthening our commitments to allies and partners and enhancing our involvement in regional institutions. The President’s trip demonstrated the importance we place on East Asia, which remains vital to U.S. security and prosperity. In the November Joint Statement the Chinese recognized the positive role the United States plays in East Asia by stating that “China welcomes the United States as an Asia-Pacific nation that contributes to peace, stability and prosperity in the region.”

The trip was also a continuation of our efforts to build a “positive, cooperative, and comprehensive relationship” between the United States and China. As President Obama has said, the ability of the United States and China to partner with each other is “a prerequisite for progress” on some of the most important issues of our times. Those issues include several important security challenges. Issues such as North Korea and Iran cannot be successfully addressed without intensive and sustained involvement by China. To date, we have been encouraged by China’s willingness to cooperate with us in these areas, although a great deal of work remains to be done.

Our two countries share the strategic objective of the verifiable denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula, and we worked together with the international community to adopt UN Security Council Resolution 1874. This resolution contains a ban on arms exports, enhanced restrictions on arms imports, and inspection provisions to address North Korea’s nuclear, missile, and other WMD proliferation activities, as well as its transfer of conventional weapons. We continue to work with China to bring North Korea back to the Six-Party Talks and to a process of denuclearization.

China also opposes Iranian development of nuclear weapons and expressed concern about the Iranian situation in the U.S.-China Joint Statement released during the President’s November trip. China is an active member in the P5+1 process, and recently supported the IAEA Board of Governors’ resolution that sharply criticized Iran’s nuclear program. Both the United States and China have endorsed a “dual-track” approach that seeks to persuade Iran to cooperate with the international community, but provides for a “pressure track” if they refuse. We are very concerned that Iran has not honored the commitments it made in Geneva, and we continue to engage with China and other P5+1 partners on next steps, including how and when to apply the pressure track on Iran.

We are seeking to broaden our cooperation with China in other regions as well. Both our countries are threatened by instability in South and Central Asia. In the Joint Statement released during the President’s trip, both sides agreed to support the efforts of Afghanistan and Pakistan to fight terrorism, maintain domestic stability, and achieve sustainable economic and social development. We have encouraged China to take a larger role in providing developmental assistance to Afghanistan in order to help promote peace and stability in that region.

The November Joint Statement also stated that both sides agreed to deepen counterterrorism consultation and cooperation. We have sought to expand our cooperation with China on terror finance, countering extremism, and travel and transportation security. For example, in September 2009, the United States hosted the seventh round of U.S. – China counterterrorism consultations in Washington, where we had productive discussions on these topics.

We have sought to increase our cooperation with China on nonproliferation, but the results have been mixed. We continue to see evidence that some Chinese companies sell arms and restricted materials to countries of concern. We have urged China to increase its efforts to implement and enforce export and financial controls, and take more active steps to punish proliferators and publicize its investigative procedures. In the past year we have had two meetings of the U.S.-China Nonproliferation Dialogue in which we discussed our concerns. Additionally, President Obama discussed nonproliferation and nuclear security with President Hu during his trip to China, and China has agreed to actively participate in preparations for the Nuclear Security Summit in April.

We obviously do not see eye-to-eye with the Chinese on every issue. For example, on Taiwan, the United States remains committed to our one China policy based on the three joint communiqués and the Taiwan Relations Act. We believe that this policy has contributed greatly to the peace and stability of the past several decades, and we remain committed to that framework. We welcome the improvement in cross-Strait relations over the past year. At the same time, we have voiced our concerns about China’s rapid military-modernization program as it relates to Taiwan. China’s continued military buildup across the Taiwan Strait, despite improvements in cross-Strait relations, raises many questions about Beijing’s commitment to a peaceful solution to cross-Strait issues.

Similarly, the United States and China have differences on the issue of human rights. The promotion of human rights remains an essential element of American foreign policy. It is part of who we are as a people. We believe these rights are not unique to America, but rather are internationally recognized rights that should be available to all peoples. We frequently raise human rights in our meetings with Chinese counterparts, as President Obama did with President Hu in Beijing in November. We will continue to raise these issues, including at the next round of the U.S.-China Human Rights Dialogue scheduled for early this year.

President Obama has stated that “the rise of a strong, prosperous China can be a source of strength for the community of nations.” This summer we will hold another meeting of the U.S-China Strategic and Economic dialogue that we initiated last July. We will use this and other forums to continue building our relationship with China and to seek pragmatic cooperation on issues of mutual concern. At the same time, we will remain engaged and active throughout the region, supporting our allies and expanding our leadership in this vitally important part of the world.

Thank you for the opportunity to testify before you today on this important topic. I welcome your questions.