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U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission, "Hearing: China’s Foreign Policy: Challenges and Players," April 13, 2011

This hearing was conducted by the U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission on April 13, 2011. The U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission was created by the U.S. Congress in 2000 to monitor, investigate, and submit to Congress an annual report on the national security implications of the economic relationship between the United States and the People’s Republic of China.
April 13, 2011

Wednesday April 13, 2011
216 Hart Senate Office Building
Constitution Avenue between 1st and 2nd Streets, NE
Washington, DC 20002


As China’s overseas interests and presence expand, so too will the range of foreign policy challenges Beijing faces. Addressing these challenges adeptly and successfully will require new ways of thinking about foreign policy priorities and new ways to implement them. At the same time, an increasing presence on the world stage inevitably creates tension for the Chinese government between safeguarding its overseas interests and its long-standing stated position of opposing interference in other countries’ internal affairs. How elastic is the concept of non-interference in internal affairs?

For example, as the West has struggled to respond to events in Libya, a country with 36,000 Chinese workers and a large source of Chinese oil imports, Beijing supported UN sanctions against the Qadafi regime. It then abstained from supporting the use of military force to prevent a humanitarian crisis, and subsequently criticized the actions of Western coalition forces. Can we expect China to move further along a continuum of foreign policy actions? Will the Chinese government's decisions be systematic or on an ad hoc basis? Is there a new emerging "China doctrine," influenced and shaped by new parties? If so, what does this mean for U.S. diplomacy?

As Beijing flexes its muscles, it has strong new tools to employ, including increased economic leverage, especially in light of the global financial crisis. Both developing and developed countries welcome Chinese trade, investment, and economic aid. Europe is actively pursuing Chinese assistance for addressing its sovereign debt crisis. And countries from Suriname to Kenya to Tonga are recipients of the fruits of China's growing economic power. So, too, are a number of "countries of concern."

Yet Beijing's open arms and deep pockets raise concerns in many countries. For example, some in the developing world see Beijing's investment as a new form of colonialism while many struggle with displacement of domestic production by Chinese goods. The acquisition of resources is clearly guiding much Chinese investment, but what else will the Chinese government expect in return for its generous terms and large investments? Will Chinese investment around the world shape the willingness of countries to challenge China on its policies or behavior?

And while the challenges China faces in foreign policy grow in scope and complexity, there may also be changes occurring in China’s foreign policy apparatus. Some of our witnesses today will discuss the emergence of new, or newly empowered, voices in China’s foreign policy making process. The roles of traditional foreign policy actors, such as the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the People’s Liberation Army may be evolving. New actors such as resource companies, financial institutions, local governments, and netizens are coming on the scene. What role are they playing in the development of China's foreign policy?

All of these issues may result in a Chinese foreign policy that radically differs from the past. We will be joined today by a number of experts from the Administration, academia, and private organizations who we hope will help us answer some of these questions. In particular, we are pleased to welcome Congressman Dana Rohrabacher from California who has taken time out of his busy schedule to join us, as well as Mr. Daniel Kritenbrink from the State Department and Mr. David Helvey from the Department of Defense to present the Obama Administration’s perspectives.

Before I turn it over to my colleague for his remarks, I’d also like to thank Senator Ben Nelson and his staff for helping us to secure today’s hearing room.


Thank you Commissioner Bartholomew, and thanks to our witnesses today for helping us to further understand recent developments concerning China’s foreign policies.

Earlier this month, China released its most recent defense white paper, an authoritative document that purports to reflect Beijing’s official views. In this white paper, China claimed that it is actively seeking to integrate into global society, and “strives to build, through its peaceful development, a harmonious world of lasting peace and common prosperity.” Yet China continues to develop economic, political, and military ties with rogue countries such as Iran and North Korea. And despite international condemnation of North Korea’s sinking of a South Korean vessel and the shelling of a South Korean island, Beijing refuses to condemn Pyongyang’s actions, even going so far as to provide an official reception for Kim Jeong-il’s state visit late last year. China’s ties with both North Korea and Iran frequently flout U.S. and UN sanction regimes, and indirectly aid the development of these nations’ nuclear weapons programs. China’s relationship with Russia, while not of the same level of concern as China’s relationship with Iran and North Korea, has often been used to counter U.S. influence globally and as a means for disregarding efforts to promote democratization and human rights.

Despite Beijing’s claim to build a “harmonious world of lasting peace and common prosperity,” its foreign policy actions in recent years are increasingly assertive—and, in some cases, deeply troubling. China’s harassment of U.S. Navy vessels in international waters in March 2009, its labeling of the South China Sea as a “core interest” last year, and the unilateral embargo on rare earth exports to Japan over territorial disputes are not the actions of a nation seeking to build a “harmonious world.” Instead, it appears that China may be moving away from Deng Xiaoping’s 1990s advice of “hide your capabilities, and bide your time,” towards a policy that seeks to pursue China’s interests in a more direct manner. However, this more assertive foreign policy may have undone much of the goodwill towards China that Beijing had previously cultivated regionally and globally. In Asia, for example, several states, such as Australia, India, Japan, the Philippines, and Vietnam, have announced changes to their military postures and procurement plans partially as a result of China’s activities.

We have excellent witnesses today who are all experts on these complex issues and will offer unique insights into our unanswered questions. I’d like to ask that each witness limit his or her remarks to just seven minutes in order to leave plenty of time for questions and answers.

Hearing Co-Chairs’ Opening Statements
Commissioner Carolyn Bartholomew
Commissioner Peter Brookes

Panel I: Congressional Perspectives
Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA)
Rep. Bill Johnson (R-OH)

Panel II: Administration Perspectives
Mr. Daniel Kritenbrink, Acting Deputy Assistant Secretary for East Asian and Pacific Affairs, U.S. Department of State
Mr. David Helvey, Principal Director for East Asia Policy, Office of the Secretary of Defense

Panel III: Emerging Issues in Chinese Foreign Policy
Mr. Andrew Small, Transatlantic Fellow, German Marshall Fund
Dr. J. Peter Pham, Director of the Michael S. Ansari Africa Center, Atlantic Council
Dr. Alan M. Wachman, Associate Professor of International Politics, Tufts University

Panel IV: China’s Relations with Select Countries of Concern
Dr. John W. Garver, Professor, Georgia Institute of Technology
Dr. Victor Cha, Director of Asian Studies, Georgetown University
Dr. Richard Weitz, Director of the Center for Military-Political Analysis, Hudson Institute

Panel V: New Interest Groups in Chinese Foreign Policy
Dr. Yu-wen Julie Chen, Visiting Scholar, University of Virginia
Dr. Erica S. Downs, Fellow, Brookings Institution
Ms. Susan V. Lawrence, Analyst in Asian Affairs, Congressional Research Service



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