China and Foreign and Security Policies of the Major Powers

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Third Session

China and Foreign and Security Policies of the Major Powers

The Third session of the conference was titled 'China and Foreign and Security Policies of the Major Powers,' and was divided into two parts because of the number of speakers. The speakers in the first part of the session included Dr Elizabeth Van Wie Davis, Professor of Regional Studies, Asia-Pacific Center for Security Studies (APCSS) Honolulu, Hawaii, Professor Zhao Gancheng, Director, Department of South Asia Studies, Shangai Institute for International Studies (SIIS), Shanghai, and Dr. Vitaly Naumkin, Director, Center for Strategic and Political Studies (CSPS), Moscow. The speakers in the second part included Dr. Yasuhiro Matsuda, Senior Research Fellow, The National Institute for Defense Studies (NIDS), Tokyo, Dr. Gudrun Wacker, Head of Research Unit, German Institute for International & Security Affairs (SWP), Berlin, and Air Comdre, (Retd) Jean Vincent Brisset, Director of Research, Institute of Relations International ans Strategiques (IRIS), Paris. The session was chaired by Mr. Daljit Singh, Senior Research Fellow, Institute of Southeast Asian Studies (ISAS), Republic of Singapore.

Dr Elizabeth Van Wie Davis, APCSS, US

The first speaker of the session Dr Elizabeth Van Wie Davis in her presentation titled 'China-US Relations: A Long and Winding Road', said that the relations between China and the United States twist and turn like a gusty road with many ups and downs in it. In part, this is a reflection of how vital Chinese-American relations are to both the powers, and generally to the international community. Also, this is a reflection of how spiny relations can be between both the powers with independent agendas. She drew several parallels in the bilateral relations between Sino-US relations.

She went on to say that relations between China and the US shifted at the end of 2001 as the US became involved in the 'war on terror', and the war in Afghanistan. Shifting from the negative presidential campaign rhetoric and the EP3 incident over the Hainan Island, the US and Chinese interest began to run parallel with the changing world view after September 11. The unity on the 'war on terrorism' held the two countries together 2003-04 period, however it began to wear down with the US bombing in Iraq, and took on the characteristics of benign neglect. China did not support the war on Iraq, but neither did it raise a vocal opposition to the war. Relations were neither smooth nor rocky. The Chinese and the US focused instead on their common agendas in the Six Party Talks on the North Korean nuclear programme and ignored their differences, The former US Secretary of State, Colin Powell, described this period, as the 'Best relationship' between China and the US in November 2004.

Dr. Davis said that the benign neglect of 2003-04 also has its parallels in the Sino-US relations, but the year 2005 promises another curve in the windy road. Economic issues have risen to the top of the agenda in their relationship. China and the US are now major trading partners. Still, there are a few problems in the balance of trade and there had been such problems in the past with China as well.

Dr. Davis concluded by saying that the economic issues are currently the arena of the biggest conflict for the Sino-US relationship. The US laundry list of economic concerns includes an ongoing interest in the undervalued Chinese currency; the huge bilateral trade deficit; concerns that US businesses gain equal accesses in the Chinese economy; Chinese business espionage of US cooperation; protection of intellectual property rights; especially of software and entertainment; concerns of Chinese dumping and flooding the US economy - especially with steel and textiles; and Chinese labour practices. The Chinese have concerns too about the economic relationship with the US, but these concerns must be balanced with the Chinese desire to have continued access to the US market and overall stable relations with the US.

Professor Zhao Gancheng, SIIS, Shanghai

Professor Zhao Gancheng in his presentation 'China-US Relations: Fragile but Sustainable' said Sino-US relations are supposed to be one of the most important relationships in the world. The importance perhaps stems from a hypothesis that China as a rising power is likely to challenge the international system and the US as a dominant power tends to prevent any potential or realistic candidate from doing it. Therefore, without properly handling the relationship, not only the two nations, but the world as well would face severe challenges in maintaining peace and stability. The importance of Sino-US relations implies that both China and US have to look for common interests if neither side really wants to stir up stability of the system.

Professor Zhao further argued that the US is different from China mainly in that the US does not accept the concept of sovereign superiority, nor a more democratic international system. On the contrary, the US believes the world needs leadership that the US has taken for decades. The issue for the US is not how the world system has to be democratised, but how to strengthen the US leadership by preventing any challengers, a natural position by a dominant power. The difference between China and the US on these significant issues is clear with some irony in it. By American standard, China is not a democracy, but China sturdily advocates a more democratic world. And the US, as the most powerful democracy, is always suspicious about any such initiatives. Difference like this, one might argue, comes mainly from differing perception of the world system and their respective status in the system. Starting from this, their respective approach towards significant issues illustrates the nature of Sino-US relations. In spite of common interests easily discerned in the international community, the two countries would have lots of disputes, some of which may go to public, and yet others might be hidden behind. Consequently, mistrust has been increasing over the years. The statement that " US-China relation is in its best stage in history " is certainly true, but that does not change the fact that, at the fundamental level, mutual mistrust remains, leading to some negative trends in both political and security arenas. Professor Zhao elaborated these concepts at three different levels.

At the bilateral level, rapid development of independence movement in Taiwan has reduced Beijing's policy options, and at this critical moment, China believes that the US does have the leverage not to let the situation go towards an irreversible direction, or it would make Sino-US relations collapse, that would not benefit anyone.

At the regional level, while China and the US share common interests in a number of areas such as anti-terrorism, non-proliferation of WMD, safeguarding international sea lanes, maintaining regional stability, etc., major differences remain. The difference between China and US shows the fragile nature of Sino-US relations. For a long time, engagement has been the way agreed upon by both sides, but the problem is how to go about it. Hardliners in the two countries perceive the other side as potential, even realistic threat.

Professor Zhao concluded by saying that, at global level, China's rapid development and hence fast increasing of power has caused concerns in Washington. But the economic area is most positive for Sino-US relations, even though there are still some concerns on the American side. That might be a reminder of similar concerns of the US about Japanese products in the 1980s. Just as Japan's growth did not really hurt American economy but accelerated the pace of technology revolution that has made US No. 1 in the world economy today, analysts mostly agree that China's rapid development will become a powerful engine to the drive world economy ahead. This cannot be bad news to the US economy, the most powerful one in the world.

Dr. Vitaly Naumkin's, Director, CSPS, Moscow

Dr. Vitaly Naumkin's presentation was titled 'Evolving China-Russia Relations Post Bipolarity'. He said that in the post-bipolar world, China had emerged as one of Russia's key foreign partners. This partnership is based on the fact that China has witnessed a staggering economic growth and needs Russia as a market outlet, as a balancing factor in its relations with the US and Japan, as a source of natural resources, and lastly as a supplier of arms and military technology. Additionally, the two countries are faced with common threats including terrorism and extremism and are now also partners in the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) in an effort to exert a greater influence on the Central Asian region.

Dr. Naumkin said that experts believe that in the next fifteen years, both China and India are geared to play an integral role in global politics. Although, it remains to be seen whether or not the rise of these powers will be smooth. Russian experts too are of the opinion that any crisis in the emergence of China has so far been avoided and will occur only if there is an internal or external detonator of economic, political, social or any other nature, capable of provoking such a crisis. As an example, he pointed out the Hong Kong and Taiwan factors as intermediate detonators. In this context, Russian experts believe that China should strive to preserve the status quo and that Russia should support China too. However in the case of a military conflict, Russia should refrain from supporting either China or its adversary.

Russian expert circles proceed on the assumption that in the future, China will manage to preserve both its political stability and high rates of economic growth. However, they have pointed out negative factors which might adversely influence this growth. These include a retarded pattern of population growth and an aging population. Dr. Naumkin pointed out that Russia was facing similar problems. He said that Russia was not at all in the favour of a crisis in China and that the two countries enjoyed friendly relations.

Dr. Naumkin identified three important triangle relations i.e. the Russia-China-India triangle; the China-India-Pakistan triangle; and the China-Russia-US triangle, and explained the evolution of these triangles in the light of historical developments. Dr. Naumkin said that the China-Russia-US triangle was by far the most important equation and it influences all other relations considerably. In this regard, trilateral cooperation has never been an option. Chinese thinkers are of the opinion that US bases in Central Asia are there to contain China and not merely for counter-terrorism. On the issue of regime change, China and Russia share the same sentiments, hence the recent SCO demand that the US give a deadline for the withdrawal of its troops from Central Asian bases. He said that the best option for Russia, China and the US would be constructive partnership.

On the issue of cooperation in the energy field and also military-technical cooperation between Russia and China, Dr. Naumkin highlighted several incidents which point towards a considerable growth in relations between the two countries. In Russia, fears have been expressed concerning the growth in China's military power, nevertheless, it is precisely in the military sphere that there has been an unprecedented up-grade in Russo-Chinese relations. Talking about the joint Russo-Chinese military exercises, Dr. Naumkin pointed out that neither Russia nor China had set itself the task of aggravating relations with Washington.

In conclusion, he said that the level of political relation between the two countries was very high. All border issues have been settled, and military-technical cooperation is actively growing along with economic cooperation. Chinese investment in Russia is expected to increase to $ 12 billion by 2010. Although it is not the perception of the government, many in Russia still have fears of a possible Chinese demographic expansion in the Russian Far East, to an extent that the Chinese are variously accused of plundering Russian natural resources in the region.


Q/C: Wouldn't the market forces bring convergence to US and China relations?

A: Economic ties have brought US-China closer; both have become interdependent. A clash could not be foreseen to be brought by economics. Economic exchanges can be very helpful, but these don't guarantee peaceful and sustainable development of relations.

C: Main conflicting issues are security issues; economic cooperation cannot present a solution to these problems.

Q/C: Real challenge to China is through USA. Fundamental slogans of the US they are a democracy and a free market economy, China is literally undermining these. How do you see that?

A: Situation is deteriorating, but economic interdependence developed in the past. Risks are very high, independent measures need to be taken. China-USA are going for a nuclear market.

Q: Taiwan is part of China, and it is an ideological issue. What are your comments?

A: USA does understand the ideological question, but none of the states now intend for one China. There is problem of ambiguity on side of US regarding China. There are three points of views how security issues among China and USA could be resolved. These are commercial depth, building trust measures and sustainable peace.

Q/C: Common interests in energy sector have formed battlelines between China and USA. The UNICOL operation in China would only be possible, based on the condition of the utilisation of the Chinese resources for Chinese consumption only.

A/C: This is the central issue, and the US-China are going to work this out together. Chinese dependence on energy is ever increasing, and China is going to frame out negotiating ends for removal of misperception and mistrust between US-China on strategic issues and energy needs.

Dr. Yasuhiro Matsuda, NIDS, Tokyo

Dr. Yasuhiro Matsuda spoke on 'Sino-Japanese Relations.' Dr. Matsuda began his presentation by saying that the biggest issue the two countries presently face is how to ameliorate their political ties while securing their economic relations. He then went on to describe how Japan and China relations succumbed to a host of issues which aggravated bilateral relations between the two countries.

He explained how world politics had changed since the Cold War era and how Japan and China are no longer faced with the same enemy. The year 1989 was a watershed for China-Japan relations, following which the relations between the two countries took a downward turn. Issues including the Tiananmen Square incident, and also structural changes in the relations between China, Japan and the US have impacted the relations adversely. The US and China have entered an area of strategic competition, while the Japan-US alliance has been strengthened. Consequently, two camps have been created whereby China has forged close relations with Russia, and Japan with the US and Taiwan. According to the speaker, although there is no possibility of an armed conflict between China and Japan presently, in the long run the relationship has the ability to become strategically competitive.

Dr. Matsuda pointed out that differences in their respective political systems and the impacts of economic globalisation had further galvanised the relations between the two countries. Whereas Japan is a liberal democracy, China is being governed by an orthodox ideology as the communist party still exerts a lot of influence on the ideologies within China. He continued to say that as a consequence of these ideologies, the Japanese politicians were very vocal and hence critical of Chinese policies. This criticism is usually not acceptable to the Chinese politicians. A vicious cycle has therefore developed with both sides criticising each other. The role played by media on either side has further compounded the problem. Anti-China reports are therefore very popular in Japan and vice versa.

Talking about the normalisation of relations between the two countries, Dr. Matsuda said that a major reason why the gap is widening is because the problem regarding the history of WWII is getting bigger with time. He also said that Japan had an ill-coordinated response to a normalising China. The Chinese economy began doing very well in the 1990s, but even during that time Japan continued to provide China with financial aid till the time that the bubbling Japanese economy finally burst and then got mired in a decade-long stagnation. Generational change has also played an important role in bringing changes in the relations between Japan and China. In Japan for example, the public prefers leaders who can say no to China. Dr. Matsuda concluded by saying that there was no simple solution to solve the Japan-China problem. He said that the causes were deep-rooted and structured, and that both countries needed to make a conscious effort to address them. He said that in Japan the pro-Chinese politicians were fading away. In fact the last one retired two years ago. There has been a sharp decrease in the number of Japanese citizens who feel an affinity with China. There will be another sharp drop this year on account of the Chinese vice premier's decision to cancel a meeting with Premier Koizumi.

Commodore (Retd) Jean-Vincent Brisset's, IRIS, Paris

The title of Air Commodore (Retd) Jean-Vincent Brisset's paper was 'ASEM: A European Point of View'. He started his presentation by giving the origins of Asia Europe Meeting (ASEM) process. He said that the EU could have started as a political body, instead it was the economic factor which was the founding element of the Union. It took years before the EU members started to envision a common foreign policy. Even today, this is a difficult issue and some of the members of the EU remain unenthusiastic to a closer political integration.

Mr. Brisset gave the historical background of the EU-ASEAN relations that started in 1978 and how the EU from time to time since the 1990s has framed EU-Asian strategy first in 1991 and then 1994 to deal with the Asian continent. The main objectives of these strategies have been to define a policy on Asia in order to strengthen the EU's economic presence in the region while promoting the stability and economic development of the countries in the region and the consolidation of democracy and rule of law in Asia.

ASEM was set under a joint initiative from France and Singapore in 1994. The goal was to set up something more consistent than the EU-ASEAN dialogue, considered as too technical, and than the ARF, where too many countries were assembled together. ASEM is not an international organisation, nor a development agency. It remains a place where the responsible bodies can meet their counterparts and exchange ideas with them.

Defining the various components of ASEM, Mr. Brisset said that the dialogue under ASEM was based on three pillars, i.e., the political pillar; economic pillar; and the social, cultural and intellectual pillar. The political pillar is the key element of the ASEM process and current activities focus on addressing international and regional developments, reinforcing the multilateral system through effective multilateralism, security and anti-terrorism cooperation. The economic pillar is dedicated at promoting economic multilateralism, while the social, cultural and intellectual pillar promotes dialogue on cultures and civilisations; helps develop Europe-Asia cooperation in the fields of education, and information technology. It wants to promote a better mutual understanding of each others societies.

There are three different types of official meetings in ASEM: Head of the States summit; ministerial level meetings; and official meetings to address specific problems. Besides these meetings, there is a large calendar of events covering many topics, from ASEM youth games to interfaith dialogue or cyber security workshop. During various summits, issues that have been discussed include reform of the UN institutions; fight against terrorism and organised crime; human rights; environment; security in the Asia Pacific region; development of EU, NATO and OSCE; arms control and proliferation; relations between ASEM and ARF; and KEDO.

Discussing the hopes and fears of ASEM, Mr. Brisset said that one of the fears of the founding states of the EU is to see the disappearance of EU/ASEAN cooperation, which has obtained very good results. For Europe, ASEM is also a way to meet China without confrontation, while for the Asian partners it is also a counterbalance to the Pacific and US bound structures like APEC.

In conclusion, Mr. Brisset said that ASEM now has to prove its usefulness and find its place in the agenda of both the EU as an entity and each of the European countries. There is also a problem of efficiency of the meetings. On one hand, there are already some Euro-Asian multilateral dialogue forums that are competing. On the other hand, ASEM should be enlarged to all the Asian states. The great attractiveness of the EU-China and EU-India dialogues could also cast a shadow on ASEM.

Dr. Gudrun Wacker, SWP, Berlin

Dr. Gudrun Wacker's paper broadly covered three aspects of the EU-China relations: namely the EU approach to China; the issue of the EU arms embargo on China; and assessments and future prospects of the bilateral relationship. It was only in the 1990s that relations between the EU and China intensified due to three factors. These were the end of the Cold War and the changes in the international landscape; China's rapid economic development and its expanding economic relations with Europe; and Europe's Common Foreign and Security Policy gradually took shape (with China playing a role in this).

Dr. Gudrun argued that the long-term objectives with respect to China as formulated in the EU's first policy paper in 1995 were still valid today. The first long-term objective is to transform China into a responsible international actor that is acceptable to the EU, and the second is to help China in its domestic/internal transition.

Dr. Gudrun emphasised that the core of the European approach to China emphasises that rather than trying to "contain" China - and Europe is not in a position to do that anyways - the China policy is an effort to engage China in every possible way. The economic and trade relations still dominate the EU's China policy. In 2004, the EU became the biggest trading partner of China and China became the second largest trading partner of the EU.

The second part of Dr. Gudrun's presentation dealt with the issue of EU arms embargo on China, which was an important factor in the European-Chinese relations. Though the French and German leadership supported the lifting of the arms embargo, the rest of Europe was divided on the issue. The US, Japan and Taiwan were against the lifting of the embargo. The EU has postponed the decision on lifting of the embargo due to certain reasons. These included the immense US pressure and the prospects of US sanctions. More importantly, China passed the anti-secession law, which underlined Chinese willingness to use non-peaceful means should Taiwan declare independence. The ensuing crisis of the EU itself over the ratification of its constitution and the budget stalled other projects already underway. Among these was the strengthening of the "code of conduct on arms exports" of the EU, and the "toolbox" which was supposed to be a prerequisite for lifting the embargo. The second big issue between China and the EU is granting China the status of a market economy.

In the end, Dr, Gudrun concluded that without these two issues being solved to China's satisfaction the negotiations for a new framework would not really go very far.


Q: How would you term Sino-USA relations?

A: Sino-USA bilateral relations are most important. Trend will develop mainly how USA will cope with rise of China. The debate on China's threat to US has created a negative impact on this relationship. This sort of relationship presented cooperation and friction simultaneously. Problems and differences between China-US presented strategic suspicions. Famous US strategists think that US politics has its own strategic circle. Majority believe that no matter how US forms its policy, realism would be the dominant factor.

A/C: Sino-US relations are like a winding road, marked by lack of trust between two states. China has made some statements that could be termed as provocative. The USA feels concerned about the threats that could be posed by China.

C: EN-GB"> The US is very much concerned with Chinese military modernisation when you talk about threat perception from the Chinese side, China is weaker in realm of power, capability and in terms of intentions does not intend for anything negative towards US. China facing lots of issues domestically, so it restrains China's power projection, then what drives the US to feel threatened by China?

C: Japanese criticise about the transparency of Chinese mass media. History has become important, nationalism is most important in readjustment of Japanese policy. Chinese development has become an obstacle for Japan to play its role in the Asia Pacific region. Deterioration of relations between Japan and China have been caused by misperceptions on both sides, but the Japanese are now working for normalisation of relations with China.

A/C: Sino-US relations are like a winding road, marked by lack of trust between two states. China has made some statements that could be termed as provocative. The USA feels concerned about the threats that could be posed by China.

Q: Is Japan going to be England in the Far East? Is the Taiwan issue, as identified by Japan, going to violate Japanese-Sino relationship?

A: In February 2004, US-Japanese consultations to identify Taiwan as a strategic objective included Chinese interests, but the Chinese would like to see Japan as a responsible player in Asia Pacific region. The US trying to make Japan the UK in Asia Pacific to have access to China and Taiwan in that way. Japan has never recognised Taiwan as part of China, so there are some ambiguities on both sides regarding the status of Taiwan. Pakistan is one of the minorities who recognise Taiwan as part of China.

Q/C: China is going to be a rising power, but how many years is it going to take to have a formidable military capacity and modernisation. If the international system is going to treat China badly, China will not behave rationally.

International law does not apply on International policy formation only, but also on internal dynamics. China is not an irresponsible international actor there have been big changes in Chinese international policy. China has changed its attitude, China's economic interdependence and compliance to international institutions and regimes have made its role further vital. The EU policy towards China has to be evaluated according to, what are the differences (human rights, environment), and need to be highlighted. EU would like to deal with human rights issues in China and awarding of social rights.

C: EU relationship with China is so generous that it even moves China to modify. ASEAN. would like to have a dialogue with EU. In case of Myanmar, it would like to have a dialogue and a roadmap has already been laid down after ratification and constitutional reforms. The Mynamar going to take valid steps, like China-ASEAN dialogue, to solve issues.

C: Arrival of Asian century is not possible without removal of Intra Asian conflict, it's for betterment of global humanity, not for Asia alone.The whole world could really benefit from its emergence in strategic and energy sectors.

Concluding Remarks by Mr. Daljit Singh

Mr. Daljit Singh thanked all the participants who put forward their perceptions. He said that there is no doubt that it is going to be an Asian century. Economic output is going to be great. Conflicts and rivalries are hard to overcome, but the Asian century will arrive from peace only. China is going to have an enormous influence, and China is going to be the biggest power by 2020. The US will be a preeminent power in first half of the century, but multipolarity will be the order. India, China, and CIS shall be the rising powers. Eventually, the Asian century will arrive depending on how peace and prosperity is sustained.