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U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission, "Hearing: China's Military Modernization and the Cross-Strait Balance," February 6, 2004

This hearing was conducted by the U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission on February 6, 2004. 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.
February 6, 2004

February 6, 2004
Longworth House Office Building
Room 1310

Prepared Statement of Chairman Roger W. Robinson, Jr.

On behalf of the U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission, I would like to welcome you to our public hearing. Our focus today is on the political and military relationship between the United States, China and Taiwan. My colleagues, Ambassador Robert Ellsworth and Larry Wortzel, will co-chair today’s hearing and guide us through this important topic.

U.S. cross-Strait policy colors all other aspects of our relationship with China. It remains the key political and military flashpoint between the two countries, driving both China’s military modernization efforts and U.S. military assistance to Taiwan. The Congress made clear the importance of these issues by directing the Commission to assess ‘‘the triangular economic and security relationship among the United States, Taipei and Beijing, including Beijing’s military modernization and force deployments aimed at Taipei, and the adequacy of United States Executive Branch coordination and consultation with Congress on United States arms sales and defense relationship with Taipei.’’

Recent developments have heightened tension in this trilateral relationship. Taiwan President Chen Shui-bian’s decision to hold a national referendum on China’s military buildup during next month’s presidential election has prompted strong rhetoric from Beijing concerning a possible military response. At a minimum, it appears likely to push Beijing to accelerate further its already substantial military modernization programs. The proper response to these developments by the U.S. is at the heart of our investigation today, and in fact the broader mission of the Commission.

Much of the debate about the rise of China since the early 1990s has centered on how fast China’s economic and military capabilities are increasing and how the United States should properly react to Beijing’s offensive buildup. This hearing will take this assessment to the next level—by examining what China might actually do militarily or politically in different scenarios. We will also look at the historical underpinnings of U.S. cross-Strait policy—the Taiwan Relations Act and the three
Communiques—and the parameters they set out for U.S. commitments to Taiwan.

At this juncture, it bears repeating of a statement I made on this subject at our December 4 hearing on ‘‘China Growth as a Regional Economic Power: Impacts and Implications.’’ In response to Beijing’s threatening rhetoric concerning Taiwan’s proposed referenda—which has again been in evidence over the past week—I noted that given this environment, the United States would be well-advised to maintain its long-standing unstated policy of not actively supporting, but also not opposing, democratic moves in a direction that Beijing perceives to be toward independence with the goal of a peaceful outcome. Moreover, it would be counterproductive, and even perilous, for our government to allow itself to be perceived as in effect endorsing Beijing’s view of what constitutes a ‘provocation’ in cross-Strait relations.

In sum, China’s military modernization and its cross-Strait political posture are central to the Commission’s mandate to assess the national security implications of the U.S.-China economic relationship. I look forward to our comprehensive discussion of these issues today.

Prepared Statement of Vice Chairman C. Richard D’Amato

Let me join Chairman Robinson in welcoming everyone to what I believe is one of the critical areas the Commission has been asked by Congress to examine—the current cross-Strait military balance and the resulting political implications for the United States. The upcoming referendum vote in Taiwan and China’s rhetoric in response makes these issues as timely as ever.

It has become apparent that Washington wants to avoid friction with Beijing over Taiwan. In the midst of joint efforts on terrorism and the North Korean nuclear crisis, the U.S. is not keen on a political or other confrontation with China over cross-Strait developments. Nonetheless, the proposed Taiwan referendum over China’s military buildup across the Strait and China’s vociferous threats of retaliation make it necessary for the Executive Branch and Congress to be clear on where the U.S. stands with regard to its commitments to Taiwan.

The role of the Congress in the development of U.S.-Taiwan policy shouldn’t be underestimated. We believe it is important for this hearing to look at the level of consultation between the Executive Branch and Congress envisioned by the Taiwan Relations Act (TRA)—the governing document of U.S.-Taiwan policy—and how such consultation has played out in the twenty-five years since its enactment.

The TRA calls for Congress to exercise a unique role vis-a-vis Taiwan. Congress is authorized to make specific determinations jointly with the President as to Taiwan’s defense needs and both the President and Congress are to determine appropriate action in the event there is any danger to U.S. interests arising from a threat to Taiwan.

Today we will examine both the specifics of China’s military modernization programs, the implications for Taiwan and U.S. cross-Strait policy, and the role of the TRA as the foundation for this policy. The time is ripe for better Congressional-Executive coordination in an area of U.S. foreign policy where the stakes are high and past communication has been low.


Administration views – U.S.-China-Taiwan trilateral relationship
Richard P. Lawless, Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense, Asian & Pacific Affairs
Randy Schriver, Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs

Panel 2: Taiwan Relations Act: Adequacy of Consultation
Ambassador Harvey Feldman, Senior Fellow for Asian studies at the Heritage Foundation
Dennis Hickey, Professor University Fellow in Research ,Southwest Missouri State University
John F. Copper, Professor of International Studies at Rhodes College in Memphis

Panel 3: Chinese Arms/Weapons Purchases and Supporting Infrastructure
RICHARD D. FISHER, JR. Senior Fellow at the Jamestown Foundation
Dr. David M. Finkelstein, CNA Corporation's Center for Strategic Studies
Evan Medeiros, RAND Corporation

Panel 4: Military trends in the Cross-strait relationship
Jason E. Bruzdzinski, Senior Professional Staff The MITRE Corporation
Vincent Wei-cheng Wang, Associate Professor, Department of Political Science, and Advisor of the Asian Studies Program, University of Richmond
DR. LYLE GOLDSTEIN,Associate Professor of Naval Warfare Studies at the Naval War College
William Murray, Retired Commander and research fellow at the Naval War College



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