Tag Archives: Paul Haenle

Evan Medeiros has ‘modest expectations’ for Xi Jinping visit, cites risk of election rhetoric

The Carnegie-Tsinghua Center for Global Policy in Beijing hosted former U.S. National Security Council Senior Director for Asia Evan Medeiros this month and just released a podcast, in which Medeiros is interviewed by Carnegie-Tsinghua Director Paul Haenle. Since Medeiros is fresh out of the White House (departure was announced in June), he has said little publicly. That podcast is definitely worth your time, but I found myself transcribing three of the answers. These are complete answers, but I have not transcribed the questions. Listen to the full podcast here.

MEDEIROS: I don’t believe that we’re at a tipping point. I think that you rightly pointed out we’re in a complex period in the U.S.-China relationship, but in my experience we’re always facing a complex time in the U.S.–China relationship, simply because this is a relationship defined by both cooperation and competition, and both elements are intensifying in recent years. So the important goal in China policy is to manage that cooperation and competition to ensure greater levels of cooperation, to elicit that from China, to encourage that using both incentives and disincentives, while at the same time bounding the disagreements, bounding the competition, so that doesn’t become the defining element of the relationship. And I think that is the core policy challenge, because I think there is wide agreement among specialists in the United States that we want to avoid inevitable rivalry between the United States and China. A final factor to keep in mind in assessing the future of the relationship is that this is a highly resilient relationship. We’re in year seven of the Obama administration, not year one. The channels of communication across the relationship are broader and deeper than they’ve ever been before. We know the Chinese, and they know us. We also have built up a very solid track record. The us and China, over the last seven years, have worked through some difficult issues, we have resolved crises, and we have a good track record of working together to solve important problems. North Korea’s nuclear program, Iran’s nuclear program, climate change, etc. So I think that fundamentally this relationship over the next 18 months under the Obama administration will continue to be a constructive one.

The principle issue that I’m worried about is China getting drawn into the U.S. election cycle, because that’s never a source of stability in the relationship, because it results in debates in the United States that can often demonize China in ways that negatively affect the U.S.-China relationship during the election and potentially constrain candidates, if and when they’re elected. So that’s not a helpful dynamic. I think the areas we need to work on are the areas of competition that you referred to earlier, Paul. In particular the issue of the South China Sea and cybersecurity. These are issues that not only affect American economic and security interests, they also touch on the fundamental question at the heart of the relationship, which is, what kind of rising power is China going to be? Is China going to adhere to international norms that have been accepted for decades? Or is China going to seek to revise those rules in ways that support China’s narrow interests. And so work on the South China Sea issue and the cyber issue is going to need to be done over the next 18 months, so these don’t become corrosive issues that undermine the overall stability of the relationship and put us on a path to inevitable rivalry.

Well having been through three of these big summits between President Obama and his Chinese counterpart, I have modest expectations. I think first and foremost, the most important element of any of these visits is ensuring that there’s plenty of time for both leaders to have extended discussion about the major strategic priorities in the U.S.–China relationship. It’s difficult to overstate the importance of that sort of interaction between the president of the United States and the president of China, to really work through the complexity of the relationship in order to expand cooperation and manage competition. I would encourage your listeners to do an assessment of the deliverables. That’s always important, and in particular it’s important to demonstrate that the U.S.–China relationship is delivering for the American people and that it’s serving American economic and security interests, but that should not be the only metric by which the state visit is judged as a success or a failure. I would encourage your listeners to pay attention to what President Obama and President Xi say at their press conference on the morning of the 25th. That is very high level strategic signaling on both parts, and hopefully both of them will have significant messages about taking the relationship to the next level.

U.S.–China Week: Space snag, the new new model, inside baseball, Chinese fugitives, deterring China (2015.02.23)

[Edited to add an omitted link.]

Thanks to all who have provided feedback, criticism, and encouragement. With this edition, I am migrating over to a new mail provider, so the sign-up page has changed. You don’t have to do anything to stay subscribed, and the unsubscribe link is still below. I’ve imposed a 1,000-word limit and adjusted the writing. And I’ve decided the archive for these newsletters will appear at my long-time blog on East Asia, TranspacificaRemember:

This week’s five items are more U.S.-focused, while China celebrates the Year of the Ovicaprid:

U.S. official: Space cooperation impossible given China’s secretive anti-satellite program

From Assistant Secretary of State Frank Rose’s Feb. 20 speech in Washington: “On July 23, 2014, the Chinese Government conducted a non-destructive test of a missile designed to destroy satellites in low Earth orbit. However, China publicly called this ASAT test a ‘land-based missile interception test.’ Despite China’s claims that this was not an ASAT test; let me assure you the United States has high confidence in its assessment, that the event was indeed an ASAT test. … China’s ASAT program, and the lack of transparency accompanying it, also impedes bilateral space cooperation. While we prefer cooperation, it will by necessity have to be a product of a step-by-step approach starting with dialogue, leading to modest CBMs, which might then perhaps lead to deeper engagement. However, none of this is possible until China changes its behavior with regard to ASATs.”

COMMENT: Former U.S. National Security Adviser Stephen Hadley has said space exploration could be a great opportunity for U.S.–China cooperation, but U.S. security concerns are deep. Meanwhile, Rose’s speech reinforces the general impression that bilateral nuclear deterrence is stable.

Hadley and Haenle: Don’t dismiss the ‘New Model’ out of hand

While the initial Chinese framing of the “new model of major country relations” fell flat in Washington over the definition of mutual respect for core interests, former National Security Adviser Stephen Hadley and one of his key assistants Paul Haenle (now heading the Carnegie-Tsinghua Center) argue that the idea should not be prematurely dismissed: “If the Chinese are unable to offer such flexibility and persistently push ‘core interests,’ China risks the United States rejecting Xi’s proposal altogether. If, however, Chinese leaders are willing to remove the references to core interests, U.S. leaders should not dismiss the proposal out of hand. The new type of major-country relations concept matters to the Chinese and to Xi personally.”

COMMENT: This is strangely one of the only pieces of U.S. commentary to seriously examine the Chinese government’s new boilerplate on the “new model,” a six-point forumla unveiled in November during the Obama–Xi summit. Most of Washington has been too busy crowing that the concept is a simple Chinese trick.

Inside baseball: Is the U.S. government bereft of China expertise? If not, does it matter?

Criticizing the Obama administration for insufficient China expertise and engagement has become something of a pastime among China wonks, especially after first-term heavy weights like Jeffrey Bader, Kurt Campbell, Hillary Clinton, Tom Donilon, and Tim Geithner left the administration. CFR’s Elizabeth Economy has had enough. The assertion that “there are no senior China experts in the relevant U.S. bureaucracies,” Economy writes, is “simply ridiculous. Evan Medeiros, Jeff Prescott, Jonathan Stromseth, David Helvey, David Shear, Sharon Yuan, and a multitude of other talented China scholars and analysts occupy senior positions in the core bureaucracies. There is no dearth of China expertise in the U.S. government.”

CSIS’s Bonnie Glaser, who is quoted in an article Economy links to, responded on Twitter: “@LizEconomy Assume you are reacting to my SCMP comments. The perception in the region is quite different, can’t be ignored.” Economy’s response: “They say it because we do.”

COMMENT: Economy did not mention Assistant Secretary of State Danny Russel, a veteran diplomat who served in Japan and Korea, but it is a rule of Washington that experts in one country will be unhappy when key positions are filled by experts in another. Either way, the perception problem is real.

Fugitive Chinese officials in U.S. on agenda for August meeting

With no bilateral extradition treaty, the U.S. government faces a challenge as Chinese authorities seek to repatriate Chinese officials who have allegedly fled with ill-gotten wealth. A meeting on the issue already took place last month, Reuters reports, and another is scheduled for August. “There are alternatives to extradition,” the State Department’s David Luna said. Luna also said the return of stolen assets is “part of an ongoing bilateral dialogue, there are ongoing cases, and it is a priority.”

COMMENT: The U.S. government faces the challenge of standing up for its values regarding due process and fair trials while avoiding the appearance of harboring the criminally corrupt. With the Chinese anti-corruption drive in full gear, Chinese officials are pushing this issue hard.

Proposal for ‘archipelagic defense’ would encircle China with allied land forces

In a new Foreign Affairs essay, Andrew Krepinevich argues that Japan, the Philippines, Vietnam and others should, with material U.S. support, “form a collective front that deters China from acts of aggression or coercion.” If that doesn’t sound like containment, I don’t know what does. The piece asserts that China is a “revisionist power” with “expansionist aims” and uses some questionable examples in support. But the meat of the proposal is to put U.S. and allied land forces on the “first island chain” that surrounds China on the East and South and equip them to mine sea lanes and launch missiles, etc. The goal of the proposal is deterrence: “Although deterrence through the prospect of punishment, in the form of air strikes and naval blockades, has a role to play in discouraging Chinese adventurism, Washington’s goal, and that of its allies and partners, should be to achieve deterrence through denial—to convince Beijing that it simply cannot achieve its objectives with force.”

COMMENT: Krepinevich has omitted the obvious in failing to discuss China’s potential reactions to the United States forming an explicit network of allies united militarily in opposition to its exercise of power. His frame of analysis seems to assume war is inevitable and then to ask how best to prepare for it.