Pictures of Obama, Xi, Abe, and others hobnobbing in The Hague

White House transcript of remarks by Obama and Xi is here.

Obama’s team standing off-camera. Danny Russel, Susan Rice, John Kerry. Is Evan Medeiros behind Russel?

Is Xi following Obama’s lead with the jacket buttoning?

Xi’s team in a meeting with the Dutch Parliament.

Wonder who decided these two should sit next to one another:

Xi got Armenian President Serzh Sargsyan

Hey! This guy!

Someone’s not invited.

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What did Baucus really say he’s ‘very wary’ of in US-China ties?

Max Baucus

Max Baucus.

In a news cycle guaranteed to be dominated by President Barack Obama’s State of the Union, Senator and Ambassador to China–designate Max Baucus visited the Senate Foreign Relations Committee for his confirmation hearing this week (video). His opening statement was relatively bland, and the atmosphere among veterans of the Senate was mostly chummy, even though Senator John McCain took the opportunity to make a speech about the risk of a World War I–like situation in East Asia. But media soon reported that Baucus was distancing himself from the White House’s careful acceptance of Chinese President Xi Jinping’s “new type of great power relations” (新型大国关系) concept.

The South China Morning Post reported:

He even said the US should be “very wary” of President Xi Jinping’s frequent call for Beijing and Washington to develop a “new type of major-power relationship”, saying the model was “not an approach that makes sense to me”. He said his approach to Beijing would be “cautious” and he agreed with Republican Senator John McCain that China was trying to be the dominant power in Asia.

Really? Agence France-Presse reported something similar:

Baucus distanced himself from President Xi Jinping’s frequent calls for China and the United States to develop a “new type of major-power relationship.” President Barack Obama’s administration had initially welcomed Xi’s theme, which some US experts saw as innocuous and vague but others viewed with suspicion.

Under questioning, Baucus said that the United States “should be very wary” of Xi’s new relationship model which “is not an approach that makes sense to me.”

“It’s frankly one that suggests that China take care of its own issues in China, whether it’s the human rights issues, or whether it’s Taiwan” or islands contested with Japan, Baucus said.

In reality, Baucus made somewhat more subtle comments that might be even more problematic from the Chinese side. Since the official transcript isn’t out yet, I have transcribed the pertinent section, which runs from about 36:30 to 40:50 in the video. Key statements in bold, and any corrections or comments welcome. What emerges is that, first, Baucus in this answer did not use the full phrase “new type of great power relations” or the White House version, “new model for of major country relations.” [My typo there on of/for. -gw] He did, however, appear to agree with or accept the premise of a question from Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Robert Menendez, and he said he’s sure Obama agrees, even though he hasn’t checked:

MENENDEZ: You are extremely well versed in all of the economic trade and related issues and I think as someone who’s had the privilege of sitting on the Finance Committee under your chairmanship, I’ve seen that first hand. But as you recognized in your opening statements, this is a pretty comprehensive portfolio with China. And in that regard I’d like to visit with you on one or two things. One is China continues to refer to a “new type of great power relationship,” and I wonder what you think China means by that. And is that China laying down a marker for saying, “Hey, we have a greater say in our backyard,” so to speak? And what should America’s counter be? Should we even be using that phrase? What are your views on that?

BAUCUS … It is imperative that we in America be deeper involved in the Asia-Pacific. The rebalancing mentioned by our president … I think is critical. Because the United States and Chinese relationship is so [valid/valuable?] to solving problems not just in China and America but worldwide. China talks about a new relationship. I think it’s always interesting and somewhat helpful to talk about new relationships, to look forward to try to find something new and something afresh—like Chinese New Year, [the] first of any new year.

But China’s interpretation of the new relationship as I understand it, that is revolving around its, as it says, its core interests is one that I think we should be very wary of. As I understand China’s interpretation of the new relationship and focus on its core interests, it’s frankly one that suggests that China take care of its own issues in China, whether the human rights issues, or whether it’s Taiwan, or its the Senkaku Islands—Diaoyu in their version—or the South China Sea. And that’s essentially a version where China takes care of its part of the world and the rest of the countries take care of their parts of the world. That is not an approach that makes sense to me. That’s not an approach which makes sense, I’m sure, to the president, though we’ve not talked specifically about this.

The approach that makes sense is for the United States to urge China to be a full member of and participate fully in the United Nations, rule of law, to resolve issues according to international rule of law principles and norms and that includes work with the United Nations with respect to North Korea, United Nations with respect to Syria and Iran. It means open skies, open seas to maintain security in the world. Half of the commercial tonnage shipped in the world today crosses through the Straits [sic.] of Malacca in the South China Sea. It’s extremely important that the United States stays engaged in the world and helps work with China. The approach to China should be—it’s very simple at this point—it’s positive, it’s cooperative, we work to constructive results. But one grounded in reality. We stand up for our principles, stand up for our principles as we work and engage China.

It is perhaps not the best sign when a nominee gives his own view of the intentions of a foreign leader, and then says he’s confident his president agrees, just before admitting he hasn’t checked. Perhaps more concerning is the fact that Obama has actually explicitly embraced the concept of a “new model of major country relations. A joint fact sheet published by the Chinese government and the White House in December begins: “Building on President Barack Obama and President Xi Jinping’s shared commitment to building a new model of major country relations, both countries affirm their commitment to practical cooperation for the benefit of our two economies and to address global economic challenges” (emphasis added).

This is a big course change for Baucus, and there is a lot of subtlety to take on board. It seems more likely he is still in the orientation phase rather than making a break from the administration, and perhaps White House officials did not take as much time to prepare a nominee virtually guaranteed to be confirmed. But those inside and outside the government in China watch carefully for changes in language, so we will have to see what develops.

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Asia in Obama’s 2014 State of the Union: We’re Still Number One

President Barack Obama’s 2014 State of the Union does not emphasize Asia, except as a competitor. Last year’s post is here.

Opening comments

Asia got scant attention in this State of the Union. Japan was not mentioned at all, which has been a kind of norm for Obama. China came up twice as a competitor (once along with Europe). Myanmar/Burma was dropped in with Tunisia as places where the United States is helping those who work toward democracy. Neither North Korea nor South Korea came up at all.

From a U.S.–China relations standpoint, the speech was almost neutral. If it had any message, it was that the United States intends to compete with China on the international economic stage. Since Japan and South Korea got no mentions explicitly, it was essentially impossible to avoid reaffirming U.S. commitment to its East Asian allies. The mention of U.S. humanitarian assistance in the Philippines was welcome, but I would have campaigned to slip China in somewhere, whether in substance or a friendly (as opposed to competitive) note.

The humanitarian assistance note was one possible venue for this. Obama could have mentioned that the United States, alongside China and Japan, performed disaster relief operations. Now only the South Korea would be left out of the lovefest, but China would get a nice note and there could be no accusation of “Japan passing.”

The speech avoided using the term “rebalance” and gave no mention of Australia, for instance. Instead, Obama cited a “focus on the Asia-Pacific.”

Asia was not the only region that one might claim was overlooked, as Mexico’s former ambassador to China, Jorge Guajardo, notes on Twitter: “Mali, Burma, Tunisia & Ukraine merit mentions in SOTU (not to mention Israel, Iran, Afghanistan) but not a single country in Latin America.”

Egypt also did not come up, rankling some. As has been the pattern, this was not a major foreign policy speech except to rally support for the interim deal with Iran. Still, it seems to me there are too few, not too many, signals to China and East Asia, and I hope to see more soon.

Country mentions in 2009-14 SOTUs

Asia Mentions: 

Here are the results of your efforts: The lowest unemployment rate in over five years. A rebounding housing market. A manufacturing sector that’s adding jobs for the first time since the 1990s. More oil produced at home than we buy from the rest of the world – the first time that’s happened in nearly twenty years. Our deficits – cut by more than half. And for the first time in over a decade, business leaders around the world have declared that China is no longer the world’s number one place to invest; America is.

Let’s do more to help the entrepreneurs and small business owners who create most new jobs in America.  Over the past five years, my administration has made more loans to small business owners than any other.  And when ninety-eight percent of our exporters are small businesses, new trade partnerships with Europe and the Asia-Pacific will help them create more jobs.  We need to work together on tools like bipartisan trade promotion authority to protect our workers, protect our environment, and open new markets to new goods stamped “Made in the USA.”  China and Europe aren’t standing on the sidelines.  Neither should we.

Our alliance with Europe remains the strongest the world has ever known.  From Tunisia to Burma, we’re supporting those who are willing to do the hard work of building democracy.  In Ukraine, we stand for the principle that all people have the right to express themselves freely and peacefully, and have a say in their country’s future.  Across Africa, we’re bringing together businesses and governments to double access to electricity and help end extreme poverty.  In the Americas, we are building new ties of commerce, but we’re also expanding cultural and educational exchanges among young people.  And we will continue to focus on the Asia-Pacific, where we support our allies, shape a future of greater security and prosperity, and extend a hand to those devastated by disaster – as we did in the Philippines, when our Marines and civilians rushed to aid those battered by a typhoon, and were greeted with words like, “We will never forget your kindness” and “God bless America!”

Here, on the White House annotated feed, a picture of Obama with Chinese President Xi Jinping appeared on screen while the president mentioned the “focus on the Asia-Pacific.” In lieu of a spoken signal, this is something positive.

Screen Shot 2014-01-29 at 12.19.40 PM

Foreign policy sections, first one on trade

Let’s do more to help the entrepreneurs and small business owners who create most new jobs in America.  Over the past five years, my administration has made more loans to small business owners than any other.  And when ninety-eight percent of our exporters are small businesses, new trade partnerships with Europe and the Asia-Pacific will help them create more jobs.  We need to work together on tools like bipartisan trade promotion authority to protect our workers, protect our environment, and open new markets to new goods stamped “Made in the USA.”  China and Europe aren’t standing on the sidelines.  Neither should we.

It’s not just oil and natural gas production that’s booming; we’re becoming a global leader in solar, too.  Every four minutes, another American home or business goes solar; every panel pounded into place by a worker whose job can’t be outsourced.  Let’s continue that progress with a smarter tax policy that stops giving $4 billion a year to fossil fuel industries that don’t need it, so that we can invest more in fuels of the future that do.

“Foreign policy and national security section”

Citizenship demands a sense of common cause; participation in the hard work of self-government; an obligation to serve to our communities.  And I know this chamber agrees that few Americans give more to their country than our diplomats and the men and women of the United States Armed Forces.

[AFGHANISTAN AND AL QAEDA]

Tonight, because of the extraordinary troops and civilians who risk and lay down their lives to keep us free, the United States is more secure.  When I took office, nearly 180,000 Americans were serving in Iraq and Afghanistan.  Today, all our troops are out of Iraq.  More than 60,000 of our troops have already come home from Afghanistan.  With Afghan forces now in the lead for their own security, our troops have moved to a support role. Together with our allies, we will complete our mission there by the end of this year, and America’s longest war will finally be over.

After 2014, we will support a unified Afghanistan as it takes responsibility for its own future.  If the Afghan government signs a security agreement that we have negotiated, a small force of Americans could remain in Afghanistan with NATO allies to carry out two narrow missions: training and assisting Afghan forces, and counterterrorism operations to pursue any remnants of al Qaeda.  For while our relationship with Afghanistan will change, one thing will not: our resolve that terrorists do not launch attacks against our country.

[NEW THREATS]

The fact is, that danger remains.  While we have put al Qaeda’s core leadership on a path to defeat, the threat has evolved, as al Qaeda affiliates and other extremists take root in different parts of the world. In Yemen, Somalia, Iraq, and Mali, we have to keep working with partners to disrupt and disable these networks. In Syria, we’ll support the opposition that rejects  the agenda of terrorist networks. Here at home, we’ll keep strengthening our defenses, and combat new threats like cyberattacks.  And as we reform our defense budget, we have to keep faith with our men and women in uniform, and invest in the capabilities they need to succeed in future missions.

We have to remain vigilant.  But I strongly believe our leadership and our security cannot depend on our military alone. As Commander-in-Chief, I have used force when needed to protect the American people, and I will never hesitate to do so as long as I hold this office.  But I will not send our troops into harm’s way unless it’s truly necessary; nor will I allow our sons and daughters to be mired in open-ended conflicts.  We must fight the battles that need to be fought, not those that terrorists prefer from us – large-scale deployments that drain our strength and may ultimately feed extremism.

[APPROACH ON DEFENSE, CLOSE GUANTANAMO]

So, even as we aggressively pursue terrorist networks – through more targeted efforts and by building the capacity of our foreign partners – America must move off a permanent war footing.  That’s why I’ve imposed prudent limits on the use of drones – for we will not be safer if people abroad believe we strike within their countries without regard for the consequence.  That’s why, working with this Congress, I will reform our surveillance programs – because the vital work of our intelligence community depends on public confidence, here and abroad, that the privacy of ordinary people is not being violated.  And with the Afghan war ending, this needs to be the year Congress lifts the remaining restrictions on detainee transfers and we close the prison at Guantanamo Bay – because we counter terrorism not just through intelligence and military action, but by remaining true to our Constitutional ideals, and setting an example for the rest of the world.

You see, in a world of complex threats, our security and leadership depends on all elements of our power – including strong and principled diplomacy.  American diplomacy has rallied more than fifty countries to prevent nuclear materials from falling into the wrong hands, and allowed us to reduce our own reliance on Cold War stockpiles.  American diplomacy, backed by the threat of force, is why Syria’s chemical weapons are being eliminated, and we will continue to work with the international community to usher in the future the Syrian people deserve – a future free of dictatorship, terror and fear. As we speak, American diplomacy is supporting Israelis and Palestinians as they engage in difficult but necessary talks to end the conflict there; to achieve dignity and an independent state for Palestinians, and lasting peace and security for the State of Israel – a Jewish state that knows America will always be at their side.

[IRAN]

And it is American diplomacy, backed by pressure, that has halted the progress of Iran’s nuclear program – and rolled parts of that program back – for the very first time in a decade.  As we gather here tonight, Iran has begun to eliminate its stockpile of higher levels of enriched uranium.  It is not installing advanced centrifuges.  Unprecedented inspections help the world verify, every day, that Iran is not building a bomb.  And with our allies and partners, we’re engaged in negotiations to see if we can peacefully achieve a goal we all share: preventing Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon

These negotiations will be difficult.  They may not succeed.  We are clear-eyed about Iran’s support for terrorist organizations like Hezbollah, which threaten our allies; and the mistrust between our nations cannot be wished away.  But these negotiations do not rely on trust; any long-term deal we agree to must be based on verifiable action that convinces us and the international community that Iran is not building a nuclear bomb.  If John F. Kennedy and Ronald Reagan could negotiate with the Soviet Union, then surely a strong and confident America can negotiate with less powerful adversaries today.

The sanctions that we put in place helped make this opportunity possible.  But let me be clear: if this Congress sends me a new sanctions bill now that threatens to derail these talks, I will veto it.  For the sake of our national security, we must give diplomacy a chance to succeed.  If Iran’s leaders do not seize this opportunity, then I will be the first to call for more sanctions, and stand ready to exercise all options to make sure Iran does not build a nuclear weapon.  But if Iran’s leaders do seize the chance, then Iran could take an important step to rejoin the community of nations, and we will have resolved one of the leading security challenges of our time without the risks of war.

[THAT TRANSITION GRAF]

Finally, let’s remember that our leadership is defined not just by our defense against threats, but by the enormous opportunities to do good and promote understanding around the globe – to forge greater cooperation, to expand new markets, to free people from fear and want.  And no one is better positioned to take advantage of those opportunities than America.

[LIST OF REGIONS NOT MENTIONED AT LENGTH]

Our alliance with Europe remains the strongest the world has ever known.  From Tunisia to Burma, we’re supporting those who are willing to do the hard work of building democracy.  In Ukraine, we stand for the principle that all people have the right to express themselves freely and peacefully, and have a say in their country’s future.  Across Africa, we’re bringing together businesses and governments to double access to electricity and help end extreme poverty.  In the Americas, we are building new ties of commerce, but we’re also expanding cultural and educational exchanges among young people.  And we will continue to focus on the Asia-Pacific, where we support our allies, shape a future of greater security and prosperity, and extend a hand to those devastated by disaster – as we did in the Philippines, when our Marines and civilians rushed to aid those battered by a typhoon, and were greeted with words like, “We will never forget your kindness” and “God bless America!”

We do these things because they help promote our long-term security.  And we do them because we believe in the inherent dignity and equality of every human being, regardless of race or religion, creed or sexual orientation.  And next week, the world will see one expression of that commitment – when Team USA marches the red, white, and blue into the Olympic Stadium – and brings home the gold.

My fellow Americans, no other country in the world does what we do.  On every issue, the world turns to us, not simply because of the size of our economy or our military might – but because of the ideals we stand for, and the burdens we bear to advance them.

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Statements in the evolving US rhetoric on the Chinese ADIZ

This post contains raw text of policy-relevant statements by the U.S. government about the Chinese air defense identification zone announcement in late November. The statements are edited excerpted by me and have been compiled from numerous sources.

Continue reading

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Key documents on Biden’s trip to Asia (in progress)

This is a collection of U.S. government releases and other key documents on Vice President Biden’s trip to Japan, China, and South Korea this week. I will try to update it as more documents emerge. These are in close to chronological order, though I don’t guarantee I got all the timezone conversions right. Please e-mail or comment if I’m missing anything big.

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Quoted by AFP on Biden visit, and a pic of his motorcade

U.S. Vice President Joe Biden's motorcade drives west for his meetings with President Xi Jinping at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing on Dec. 4, 2013. (Photo: Graham Webster)

U.S. Vice President Joe Biden’s motorcade drives west for his meetings with President Xi Jinping at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing on Dec. 4, 2013. (Photo: Graham Webster)

[Cross-posted from gwbstr.com]

As U.S. Vice President Joe Biden visits East Asia, a lot of the media focus has centered around the recent Chinese announcement of an air defense identification zone (ADIZ) in the East China Sea, a move apparently directed at Japan and the two countries’ territorial dispute over the Senkaku/Diaoyu Islands. In an AFP story yesterday by Carol Huang, I am quoted cautioning that this long-planned Biden visit is not just about the most recent flare up.

Biden and Chinese leaders — he is also expected to meet Xi and Premier Li Keqiang — were unlikely to let ADIZ friction derail broader efforts to strengthen relations, said Graham Webster, a Beijing-based fellow at the Yale Law School China Centre specialising in US-Chinese ties.

“I don’t think it will be the main topic of conversation on this trip despite the recent news,” he said.

The overarching goal from such senior meetings was “about continuing the spirit of high-level cooperation and bilateral work in the common interest”, he added. [Full Story]

I was also an attendee at the Council for Security Cooperation in the Asia Pacific (CSCAP) conference in Beijing this week (where Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Liu Zhenmin said alliances in the Asia-Pacific—implying the U.S. hub-and-spoke relationships with Japan, South Korea, the Philippines,  Australia, etc.—are “an outdated concept in international relations”).

On the way out of the conference, I noticed a police presence that was, it turned out, preparing for Biden himself to cruise by (above).

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Required reading on U.S.–China relations – Week of 2013-11-11

  • A U.S. military strategy more limited than ‘Air-Sea Battle’ would be cheaper and sufficient to face potential conflict with China, argues William Yale at The Diplomat.
    Patterns of analysis, namely game theory and the Net Assessment process, have led to unhelpful assumptions, Yale writes. Running under the surface of this argument is the power of military interests to drive strategy when broad-stroke decisions go un-examined by civilian leaders.
    “In planning for the China scenario, the U.S. should be focusing on acquiring weapon systems that have low-visibility, low-escalation potential, high-survivability, and high-deterrence value, which would allow the U.S. military to conduct a blockade (lower-end surface combatants sitting outside of China’s reach) and deny the PLA Navy the ability to sail in their neighborhood (Virginia-class submarines).”
  • The United States and China might be at greater risk of military conflict now compared to if they were Cold War-style adversaries, argues Avery Goldstein in Foreign Affairs.
    The risk of conflict is low, but in a conflict, the risk of escalation is currently high, Goldstein argues, recommending use of the U.S.–China hotline as intended and increased mil-mil exchanges.
    “It is true that China and the United States are not currently adversaries — certainly not in the way that the Soviet Union and the United States were during the Cold War. But the risk of a U.S.-Chinese crisis might actually be greater than it would be if Beijing and Washington were locked in a zero-sum, life-and-death struggle. As armed adversaries on hair-trigger alert, the Soviet Union and the United States understood that their fundamentally opposed interests might bring about a war. After going through several nerve-racking confrontations over Berlin and Cuba, they gained an understanding of each other’s vital interests — not to be challenged without risking a crisis — and developed mechanisms to avoid escalation. China and the United States have yet to reach a similar shared understanding about vital interests or to develop reliable means for crisis management.”
  • A translation of the purported full text of the Communist Party internal “Document 9″ from April on managing the ideological sphere was published by the Asia Society’s ChinaFile.
    This document targets incorrect views supposedly promoted by those abroad and those who question Communist Party rule, including the virtue of constitutional governance, free press, civil society, and on the other hand anti-reform voices. The full text fits many recent reports of “crackdowns” on diverse viewpoints.
    “These mistaken views and ideas exist in great numbers in overseas media and reactionary publications. They penetrate China through the Internet and underground channels and they are disseminated on domestic Internet forums, blogs, and microblogs, They also appear in public lectures, seminars, university classrooms, class discussion forums, civilian study groups, and individual publications. If we allow any of these ideas to spread, they will disturb people’s existing consensus on important issues like which flag to raise, which road to take, which goals to pursue, etc., and this will disrupt our nation’s stable progress on reform and development.”
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Full text: Speech by Minister Cai Mingzhao at #cybersummit2013, Nov. 5, 2013

The EastWest Institute released the full text of State Council Information Office Minister Cai Mingzhao’s speech this morning at Stanford. The following text was produced by optical character recognition based on the English-language PDF original. The Chinese version is available in PDF here.

Making Joint Efforts to Maintain Cyber Security

Keynote speech at the Fourth World Cyberspace Cooperation Summit
Cai Mingzhao
Minister of the State Council Information Office of China
November 5, 2013, Stanford University

Ladies and gentlemen, dear friends,

First of all, I would like to thank the EastWest Institute for inviting me to this summit, and giving me the opportunity to visit the beautiful campus of Stanford University. Today, I would like to share two of my aspirations with you. The first is that the Chinese people should have a safe and reliable cyberspace that provides them with positive energy as they strive to achieve their dreams. The second is that participants to this summit can reach a consensus on how to deal with the many challenges to cyber security and, through our joint efforts, make new progress in promoting international cooperation on this vital issue.

China first accessed the Internet on April 20, 1994 via facilities based in the United States. Ever since then, the Chinese people have derived enormous. benefit from the Internet. There are more than 600 million Internet users in China today and the Internet has becorne indispensable in people’s work, study and everyday life. Popular access to the Internet has played a significant role in China’s reform and opening up efforts and helped to build and strengthen the connections between China and the rest of the world.

The Chinese government has been working hard to enhance Internet development by devising appropriate policies and providing a favorable market environment and a sound legal framework. We see the Internet as a major driving force that is helping to transform our development pattern and adjust our economic structure. Just recently, the government issued a policy designating information consumption as a major focus of the campaign to boost domestic demand. We will further improve the Internet infrastructure, pursue the “Broadband China” project, and try to achieve an annual 30-percent increase in new-type information consumption.

The development of the Internet in China is very encouraging. Internet-based IT businesses have become a pillar of the economy, contributing 10 percent of China’s GDP. In 2012, the value of e-business transactions carried out in China reached US$1.4 trillion. New web applications are being launched all the time. More than 80 percent of Chinese Internet users use social networking services. Chinese citizens have opened nearly 1.3 billion micro-blog accounts. The mobile Internet, cloud computing, big data, the Internet of Things and other cutting-edge ideas are encouraging innovation and providing huge business opportunities.

Ladies and gentlemen, dear friends,

The Chinese government has always placed great emphasis on cyber security. Maintaining cyber security is an important part of China’s national strategy and is high on the government agenda. We always believe that while development is the ultimate goal, security is the guarantee of achieving that goal. Without a secure environment, development will be weak and transient.

China faces serious cyber threats. Between January and August this year, more than 20,000 websites based in China were modified by hackers and more than 8 million servers, 14 percent more than during the same period last year, were compromised and controlled by overseas computers via zombie and Trojan programs. These activities have caused severe damage to our economy and the everyday life of the people. More than 80 percent of Chinese Internet users have fallen victim to cyber attacks at some time or other. The annual economic losses run to tens of billions of US .dollars a year. Cyber crimes, especially Internet fraud, are on the rise year by year and the Internet is increasingly associated with illegal and criminal behaviors. Illegal and harmful materials such as online pornography are affecting young people and have become an issue of great concern to the public.

China supports various efforts to maintain cyber security. Like many other developing countries, China faces greater cyber security challenges than developed countries. As a result, we are very keen to continue working together with other countries to maintain cyber security. We are ready to expand our cooperation with other countries and relevant international organizations on the basis of equality and mutual benefit.

To maintain cyber security, we need to show respect for national sovereignty over cyberspace. The Internet is global, but at the same time it belongs to different countries. Sovereign states have primary responsibility for maintaining order in cyberspace. It thus follows that respect for national sovereignty over cyberspace is an important prerequisite for maintaining international cyber security. Given the differences in levels of economic development, cultural traditions, laws and regulations, each country naturally has its own concerns regarding cyber security. We should respect each country’s public policies on order and security in cyberspace.

To maintain cyber security, we need to build a robust legal system. Just as in the real world, activities in cyberspace need to be governed by law. Every country has a duty to contribute to the creation of a legal framework that will maintain cyber security, punish criminal activity, protect basic rights such as the right to privacy, and promote technological innovation and fair competition in the marketplace. All countries should protect their citizens’ rights to use the Internet in accordance with the law, and citizens should make use of the Internet according to law, because only on this basis can the international community establish order in cyberspace. If each country governs its cyberspace well, incidents that harm overall cyber security can be minimized. Although China has made positive efforts to improve its laws governing cyberspace, we recognize that we still have a long way to go. We want to enhance communication with other countries and learn from them how to build a legal system for cyberspace more scientific and more effective.

To maintain cyber security, we need to strengthen international cooperation. In cyberspace, all countries face the same problems and ultimately share the same fate. Cyber security should be built on the basis of coexistence and cooperation, as cooperation is the only way to achieve win-win solutions to shared problems. The international community should tackle difficulties and challenges together, strengthen communication and exchanges, improve mutual understanding, and jointly shoulder the responsibility for maintaining cyber security.

To strengthen international cooperation and safeguard cyber security; we should take action rather than to be content with empty talks. I, therefore, would like to put forward three proposals today.

Firstly, we should lay down international rules for behavior in cyberspace. We should first define some basic rules guiding behavior in cyberspace that can be observed by all countries. On this basis we should, step by step, create a fair and transparent mechanism for the governance of cyberspace. The definition of basic behavior rules would not only place restraints on all parties, but would also provide protection for the rights of all parties. The international community should, as soon as possible, begin discussions within the framework of the United Nations to promote the process of defining international behavior rules for cyberspace.

Secondly, we should explore effective means to tackle urgent problems. Cyber security involves a number of issues of common concern, such as cyber attacks, viruses and cyber terrorism, as well as issues of concern to specific parties, such as information security and cultural security. I suggest that we give full play to the role of the UN Group of Governmental Experts (GGE) in the field of information and telecommunications in the context of international security, identify pressing problems in global security, explore ways and means to solve them, and make clear the direction of actions for all governments and parties concerned. We should start with the problems that are easiest to solve so as to accumulate practical experience that can be applied to more difficult issues in the future.

Thirdly, we should create communication channels to facilitate international cooperation. Dealing with cyber security often involves various government departments and social organizations. To handle problems more efficiently, each country should designate specific government departments or other institutions to establish mechanisms that can quickly respond to calls for international cooperation. This could serve as the substantive action for promoting international cooperation. The National Computer Network Emergency Response Technical Team Coordination Center of China (CNCERT) has established cooperative relations with 91 organizations in 51 countries and regions and has signed cyber security cooperation memoranda with 13 international organizations. From January to September 2013, the Center received and dealt with a total of 583 requests from international emergency response organizations and other cyber security related organizations. Among them, 106 requests were from the United States Computer Emergency Readiness Team. We welcome friends from all over the world to cooperate with the Center.

Ladies and gentlemen, dear friends,

The United States and China are Internet giants. We share many common interests and there is enormous scope for cooperation. Our two countries have set up a working group on cyber security within the framework of the China-US Strategic Security Dialogue. We should make good use of this mechanism to carry on dialogue and negotiations on common concerns relating to cyber security so as to increase mutual understanding, keep our differences under control and expand cooperation.

We have already seen positive results from China-US cyber security cooperation. One example is the law enforcement cooperation between the police forces of our two countries. In June 2011, a joint US-China police operation cracked the world’s biggest Chinese-language pornographic website, the Sunshine Entertainment Alliance. A US-based culprit and 12 suspects located in China were arrested. Closing down the Sunshine Entertainment Alliance was a successful cooperation by Chinese and US law enforcement agencies targeting cross-border cyber crime. Cooperation between civil society organizations has also made substantial progress. Four years ago, I recommended to Mr. John Edwin Mroz four possible fields in which the EastWest Institute, the Internet Society of China and CNCERT could cooperate. My suggestion received a positive response from Mr. Mroz and our cooperation has yielded two results. The report, Fighting Spam to Build Trust, issued jointly by EWI and CNCERT in 2011, was a groundbreaking collaborative effort by 34 Chinese and American experts that followed two years of research and discussion. Another report, Frank Communication and Pragmatic Cooperation in Combating Harmful Hacking, to be made public during this summit, embodies the insights and reflections of Chinese and American cyber security experts. It represents another major contribution made by experts from both countries towards maintaining cyber security.

Experience teaches us that where there is action there will be results. Let us join hands to build a safer cyberspace with our wisdom and efforts.

Finally, I would like to wish the Fourth World Cyberspace Cooperation Summit every success.

Thank you all!

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Former Obama Asia advisor: Media’s US-China rivalry articles ‘represent lazy journalism’

Jeffrey Bader, a former senior director for East Asia at the U.S. National Security Council during the Obama administration and a key Obama advisor, spoke at Beijing’s Tsinghua University Tuesday, almost a year after he appeared the last time. While a lot of what he said was not especially new if you follow Bader, he closed his speech with a fairly sharp line on the U.S. news media’s handling of Barack Obama’s decision to cancel a trip to to Southeast Asia because of the domestic political crisis in the United States.

Specifically, Bader took issue with the tired frame that assumes a U.S. absence is a victory for China:

We all read a steady drumbeat of articles and media of both sides focusing on U.S.–China rivalry. They are not wrong, but they are seriously unbalanced and, I believe, frankly represent lazy journalism. Nevertheless, perceptions affect reality. If, for example, western analysts interpret Obama’s failure to attend APEC and the East Asia Summit as a victory for China—and I read many articles describing these events as “Xi wins, Obama loses,” as if it were a football game—then I can understand why Chinese analysts respond by imposing a similar zero-sum framework of analysis on U.S. and Chinese behavior.

I hope sophisticated Chinese and Americans will transcend this kind of interpretation. In fact, not everything, indeed not most things that the U.S. and China do are aimed at the other. We each have substantial interests and relations including with other countries in Asia without regard to any rivalry for influence.

This analyst agrees with the former White House advisor.

A few other notes:

  • Bader noted there has been a significant increase in U.S.–China military-to-military exchange, cooperation, and  participation in international exchanges. My far less informed observations confirm this impression.
  • He divided U.S.–China issues into four realms: global issues, Asia-Pacific issues, global hotspots, and purely bilateral issues. Of these, he said, Asia-Pacific issues such as the territorial disputes in the East and South China Seas are likely to pose the greatest challenge in the coming years.
  • Increased nationalism throughout the region, he said, is worrisome and creates conditions where concessions are impossible in territorial disputes. Accordingly, Bader said he likes China’s proposal of joint development of undersea resources in the South China Sea, since it sets the sovereignty issue aside and sidesteps arguments over exclusive economic zones that may radiate from some land features under UNCLOS.
  • “Diaoyu islands doesn’t matter,” Bader said in a refreshingly frank and lighthearted discussion of the sticky Senkaku/Diaoyu island dispute between China and Japan. He continued: “If there were global warming—and there’d have to be a lot of global warming, because they’re pretty high—but if there were somehow miraculously global warming and these islands disappeared, no one would care. But China and Japan would still have issues.” The root of Bader’s argument on Japan and China is that the island dispute was nearly absent for decades before coming up, and that Sino-Japanese relations have hit an unusual rough spot that allows the island dispute to flare up.

Shameless plug:

  • I wrote here about Bader’s dislike for the term “pivot,” which he brought up again today.
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Obama’s missed Asia trip is no disaster—if he follows up strong (new at China-US Focus)

In my latest piece for China-US Focus, I look at the impact of Obama’s decision to cancel planned travel to Asia and suggest that he can make up for missed opportunities.

Obama’s Missed Asia Trip Is No Disaster—If He Follows Up Strong

As the financial crisis gripped the United States in September 2008, Senator John McCain “suspended” his campaign for president to return to Washington and attend to Senate business. His opponent, Senator Barack Obama, refused to follow suit, saying “I think that it is going to be part of the president’s job to deal with more than one thing at once.”

President Obama’s cancellation of his trip to Asia this week indicates that the government shutdown and the possibility of a default on U.S. government debt in the coming days have, in a sense, “suspended” U.S. foreign policy. Canceling this trip does matter, but it does not nullify broader U.S. policy on Asia, including the rebalance to the Asia Pacific. Instead, the cancellation is an unwelcome reinforcement of the perception that the Obama administration is neglecting its Asia policy.

Most journalists and commentators have argued that Obama’s cancellation is either disastrous for U.S. Asia policy or not a big deal. The truth, as usual, is somewhere in between. In the following four points, I argue that: the cancellation was unfortunate but not a disaster; the shutdown might be a disaster; and there are still good options for the Obama administration and U.S. relations with Asia and China.

[Continue reading at China-US Focus]

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