Here's What You Should Know About China's New African Base https://t.co/zQc5SsRBCb
PLENARY 3: Great Continent, Great Responsibility: Finding China’s Role
Matake Kamiya, Professor of International Relations, National Defence Academy of Japan
Ram Madhav, Vice President and General Secretary, Bharatiya Janata Party
Dan Sullivan, Senator from Alaska, United States of America
Michael Auslin, Author, The End of the Asian Century
Dr. Michael Auslin: Doesn’t the carpenters just make it a little easier to contemplate conflict in the South China Sea? Just a little bit?
So we’ve just spent an hour talking about the uncertainties, what we don’t know about America’s next President. So if you thought that that uncertainty wasn’t enough, strap in because we have another hour talking about more uncertainty with the world’s biggest country. My name is Michael Auslin. I’m a working member of the agenda group here at the Halifax International Forum, and I am very pleased to be moderating this panel of leading experts and policy makers on dealing with China and with Asia.
So the story may have been debunked, but it’s just too good to retire. It’s said that when Chinese Premier Zhou Enlai was asked about the impact of the French Revolution, he answered it’s too early to say. Right? Well, believe it or not, next year is the 45th anniversary of President Nixon’s surprise visit to China in 1972. So as we edge towards a half century of engagement with China, perhaps we can summon the spirit of Zhou to ask whether it’s too early for us to tell whether China has found its global role. In order to do that, we have put together an extraordinary panel of experts and those who know the region well to talk about this. And starting from my right is Professor Matake Kamiya, who is Professor of International Relations at the National Defence Academy of Japan and the Japan Institute for International Affairs. Next to him is Mr. Ram Madhav, who is the Party Vice President and the General Secretary of the BJP Party in India, a journalist, and an author of a great number of books, especially on India and China. And at the far end of the panel, batting clean-up is Dan Sullivan, who is the Junior Senator from the State of Alaska in the US, who’s served in that position since 2015, is a Marine, served in the Bush administration, and currently serves on the Senate Armed Services Committee.
Before we start, I do want to mention that here at Halifax I think we’ve been ahead of the curve in questioning the trajectory of China’s rise and drawing attention over the past few years to the challenges that China faces. But the rest of the world’s now catching up to the idea that the road ahead for China looks far bumpier today than it did three or five or ten years ago. The confident assumptions that China would overtake the United States as the world’s largest economic power, and, after that, as the world’s supreme military power certainly seem to be questionable at best. And as we saw in the video, the speed with which the challenges that China appears to be making to the system of the international – international structure in East Asia and broader is one that is now getting attention at the very highest levels. So if you’ll forgive me while I keep trying to keep this thing fitting in my ear – obviously my ears weren’t made for this – let me turn right to our panel and start.
I’d like to start with Professor Kamiya because Japan faces probably what is the most immediate question of China’s challenge to international rules in finding its role, which is its maritime and security disputes with its neighbours. The Hague decision back in July was a point where many people thought that the tide would be turning against the claims that China had been making, that perhaps we’d see a moderation in China’s behaviour, and in fact just the opposite has happened. It is not only in the South China Sea, where the Hague decision was centred on, but in the East China Sea, the Senkaku Islands between Japan and China as well.
So Professor Kamiya, let me ask you from Tokyo’s perspective and from your perspective, what is the sense that China’s role is developing in a way that is counter to the norms and expectations that would be expected by this point in relations and deepening of relations between China and the rest of the world.
Prof. Matake Kamiya: I see. Well, although I’m a professor of National Defence Academy in Japan, I do not represent my government, so I’ll present my personal view. But I think my view represents a mainstream view in the Japanese Foreign Policy and Security Committee.
First of all, I want to say that Japan doesn’t want to confront with China; Japan wants to cooperate with China, particularly in economic field – get mutual benefits and so on. But at the same time, Japan, as Micha (ph) says, sense quite a big challenge of a increasingly assertive China. And I’m talking about, you know, China’s position in South China Sea, East China Sea. I think mainstream Japanese security thinkers, foreign policy thinkers, thinks that the China has been taking increasingly power-based approach to the issues rather than rules-based approach. And Micha mentioned about the decision made by the International Arbitration Court in Hague in this summer, and what was Chinese reaction to that? China said that – I mean, high-ranking Chinese officials said that some – something like this: China has no legal basis – no, no, no, no. The decision which says that China has no legal basis or historic claim on the nine-dash line, that’s nothing more than piece of trash paper which should be dumped into garbage. And that kind of attitude shows – I mean, cause a very question mark in the minds of the Japanese people whether this big country is willing to behave rules-based way or power-based way.
And if we look back the history of China’s advance to South China Sea, there’s a very consistent pattern in that, when the Chinese government, Beijing, sensed a kind of a creation of new power vacuum in that area, they do not hesitate to use force to get advance. For example, in 1973, when US forces withdrew from South Vietnam, next year China kicked out the South Vietnamese from the Paracel Islands and got control of all the islands. In the mid-1980s, when the Soviet Union cut back its military presence in Vietnam, China quickly advanced to Spratly Islands. In 1992, when US forces withdrew from Philippines, China took that chance and, in 1995, China occupied the Mischief Reef. And recently, in the first decade of the 21st century, while the focus of the US security policy was on Afghanistan and Middle East, China advanced to the southern part of China – South China Sea. So that’s the kind of brief history of China’s advancement to South China Sea – Paracel, Spratly, and that kind of power-based approach to the issue has been alarming the Japanese public.
Dr. Michael Auslin: Great. Thank you. And I think we’re going to return to this question of the definition of what we think the role is, obviously our own perceptions and preferences, China’s definition of what that role is; and I think we’re going to come back a lot to this question of power.
Ram, I’d like to ask you, from the US perspective, certainly we had Admiral Harris on the power panel. You know, we think of China largely as a maritime power. You know, that’s where our commitments are from our alliances; it’s where our interests are. But China, historically and today, is equally a continental power as much as it is a maritime power. Of the great states in the world, only India faces it as both a maritime power and a continental power. You’ve written a lot about this. You’ve written a book called Uneasy Neighbours. India and China fought a land war 55 years ago. There are still thousands of kilometres of contested territory between the two nations. And yet at the same time, New Delhi often finds areas of cooperation with Beijing, and sometimes that cooperation is in countering the United States and Europe.
So I’d like to ask you to give the perspective, again from New Delhi, and certainly as involved as you are in national politics at this point, how well does India understand China’s perception of its role, where China’s most important preferences are – again, maritime versus continental – and how comfortable is New Delhi in dealing with Beijing?
Ram Madhav: Thank you. For the first time I’m hearing this conference talking about India’s role. We are the second-biggest country in the continent that we are talking about. Talking about our relations with China, I would like to place before you four or five contemporary realizations. Number one, of course, as the title of this session says, we are a great continent. We believe that the global power axis has today shifted from Pacific-Atlantic to Indo-Pacific region. I would like to use the phrase Indo-Pacific in place of Asia-Pacific. Lot of trade happens. Fifty percent of the cargo trade passes through the Indian Ocean and the Pacific region. We are the second-largest defence spending region. People say that half the world’s submarines, half the world’s fighter planes will be flying over our region in the coming few years. It’s a pretty power-packed region. That’s realization number one.
Realization number two, about the great responsibility. We believe, and especially I was reading in Time magazine that, while congratulating President-elect Trump for his victory, the Chinese have expressed happiness that hereafter they won’t be bothered much by America. So the second realization about the so-called great responsibility, and also listening to Admiral Harris categorically stating that TPP is dead – long live TPP. Now, we realize that this great responsibility is going to be more on the nations in the region, in that India is going to – has to play a very important role.
Let me talk about the realization number three. With America taking a back seat, American concerns in our region largely confined to West Asia and the Middle East, not going beyond. And there is this new, important development happening now, is coming up with a new, stronger alliances and arrangements, whether it is (inaudible)… in all these areas, it’s China which is going to play a lead role. That is the third realization I’m going to talk about.
The fourth: as an Indian, I realize, we realize that countries in our region, in our continent, whether it is India or China, we are not mere nation-states; we are civilizations with three to five thousand years of hist—recorded history. Our behaviour, our thinking, our tactics is influenced not necessarily by modern-day thinking. A large amount is influenced by certain civilizational virtues, civilizational thinking, in that we need to understand China by understanding China’s civilizational traits. I saw in the approach paper a reference to a seventh-century philosopher in China. If you want to understand China, you have to read Sun Tzu. That is very important for understanding China’s behaviour. It was Sun Tzu who said the way of war is way of deception. One has to understand it. And it is who – he who said ultimate excellence lies not in winning every battle, but defeating the enemy without ever fighting. So there is a totally different thinking to – when it comes to strategic approach of that country. As immediate neighbours who have lived with that country for so many decades, we understand it much better than probably many countries in the world.
And the last realization, which is very important for us in India, is that India in the given situation, as world’s largest democracy, one of the fast-growing economies, has to give up its reticence. India thus far has been seen as a very reticent nation when it comes to getting engaged in world – international strategic fights. But India has to give up that reticence, has to start playing an important role. Towards that end, in the last two years Prime Minister Modi’s government has taken several steps. In fact, I will end my response to your question by stat—by quoting what Prime Minister Modi had said when he visited Washington, D.C. in 2014 and he had his first meeting with President Obama. He said India is already assuming her responsibilities in securing the Indian Ocean region. A strong India-US partnership can anchor peace, prosperity, and stability from Asia to Africa and from Indian Ocean to the Pacific. It can also help ensure security of the sea links of commerce and freedom of navigation on the seas. When we are talking about – indirectly we’re talking about disputes like South China (inaudible)… We are here, shedding our reticence, coming forward and saying that we are here to play an important role. Together with countries like US, we can probably play what President Obama used to call the rebalancing act. Thank you.
Dr. Michael Auslin: Thank you very much. I think we’ll certainly be coming back to this question of India shedding its reticence. That’s an important change, as well as your comment on – or assertion perhaps – about America taking a back seat. I’m sure we’re going to have some thoughts and comments about that. But you did say something that leads me directly into what I want to ask Senator Sullivan. You mentioned in the – I think it was the second of your realizations that China will be coming up with new, larger alliances, different alliances, and you mentioned a few of them.
And Senator Sullivan, I’d like to ask you about – we’ve circled around it a couple of times here, but to bore in a little bit on TPP and what comes next. Is this the opportunity – meaning America’s failure, assumably [sic], to pass TPP – is this going to be the opportunity for China, that breakthrough where it actually begins then to find a role in setting up new infrastructure through the region? We saw it last year or the year before in the beginning with the AIIB, the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank. But this is something – this is something different. We have APEC coming up this week, and there’s already reports that China will be going around offering potential trade deals and the like. So if we don’t pass TPP, is this – are we actually giving China the role to find its role?
Sen. Dan Sullivan: Well, Michael, thank you, and I first want to just begin by thanking the Government of Canada and all the officials here. you know, as Alaska’s Senator. Senator Shaheen talked last night about New Hampshire being neighbours with other neighbours, with Canada. You’re actually our only neighbour. You literally are our only neighbour. And you know, there’s places in Alaska where it is true, you can see Russia from your house. But Russia’s our neighbour, but you’re our much closer neighbour. So we – I’m really glad to be here.
And I also just want to – my state is also an Asia-Pacific – Indo-Asia – state as well. So this is a very important topic to me. I just want to briefly – I sat through the last session, and I just want to briefly kind of echo the kind of comments of Linc Bloomfield and Dov Zakheim. I think that, you know, this is a gathering of elites. Right? And so there might not be a lot of understand. Excuse me, I’ve got a fly that’s kind of bugging me here. There might not be a lot of understanding what happened in the United States. But there’s a lot of people in America who actually view this with a lot of opportunity. I happen to be one of them. And I’m going to talk about some of the opportunities.
So I do think, you know, we should turn to here about thinking about the future, as opposed to hand-wringing about what’s happened. Because there’s some opportunities here, I think big ones. So let me – let me talk about just kind of – and I want to thank you, Michael, and the Forum for this topic because it’s an incredibly important topic. You know, we – we are looking at, from the United States’ perspective, from the US Senate’s perspective, a lot of different national security areas, but I think that most would agree, in terms of a long-term national security challenge, the rise of China and how it fits into, or doesn’t, the international order that we as liberal democracies have set up is probably the most important long-term national security challenges we should be thinking about.
And you know, I’m sure some of you read recently the article by Professor Graham Alison from Harvard about the Thucydides trap. This is named for the author who talked – the great historian, Thucydides, writing about the Peloponnesian War, about the rise of Sparta, challenging Athens, and how, when you look at history, that kind of rising power challenging an existing power in the international order, his article says that hasn’t turned out well. Most of the time it hasn’t turned out well at all. As a matter of fact, it’s led to war. So a number of Senators, we had the opportunity to meet with Xi Jinping last year. I gave a speech on the Senate floor before, talking about the Thucydides trap, how we need to focus on this. We go to meet with the leader of China, and guess what he’s talking about in our meeting: the Thucydides trap. So it’s a very, very important topic.
So with regard to what you just mentioned on architecture and TPP, I think, again, kind of a little bit of – take a deep breath here. Look at kind of the context. Eight years ago you might remember a new President-elect was on the campaign trail for a year talking about how he was going to renegotiate NAFTA, how he was against the US-Colombia Free Trade Agreement, how he was against the UK-Korea Free Trade Agreement. Who was that? That was President Barack Obama. As a candidate, that’s what he said. So we’re not sure exactly. I mean, I think for now TPP is certainly on ice, there’s no doubt about it. But President Trump – President-elect Trump comes into office with something that most Presidents have not had. He has trade promotion authority. So when we – and it was mostly Republic Senate colleagues here – when we passed trade promotion authority last year for President Obama, that was a six-year extension of that authority. So the new President has four years to have that power and bring trade agreements, if he thinks that we should be negotiating them, to the United States Congress. Now, that’s a very hard power to get, and he has it for four years. So there might be opportunities there.
You know, when you talk about China’s trade agreements, I think the folks who focus on trade here know that they’re much different from the United States’ free trade agreements. They’re much different from our trade agreements. They’re kind of surface oriented, they’re not deep. There’s not about intellectual property, they’re not about investment. So there’s a little bit of – when China talks about these big agreements, it’s not the same. And they don’t have as much economic boost.
And that leads me to what I think is a really, really important point, when I talked about opportunity. In the last ten years the United States’ economy has been flat. United States’ economy has not been growing. President Obama’s going to be the first President probably in US history to never hit three percent GDP growth in one year, ever. He almost didn’t hit it in one quarter – never. And you want to understand the last panel about what happened in this election? What happened in this election, in my view, is that millions upon millions of Americans saw that the American dream, which every generation of Americans has thought was always going to take place – so your kids would do better than you because there’s always going to be opportunity, always going to be growth – the saw that slipping away. And I think it was a very legitimate concern. So as you know, Michael, one of the most important coins of the realm in Asia isn’t just trade; it’s growth. It’s a strong economy. And if this President can unleash traditional levels of American GDP growth – and I’m talking three, three and a half, four, five percent, which I think is completely doable – that’s going to be a game changer in Asia. And I think getting back to strong levels of American growth, which is what most Americans want and what’s – what drove a lot of this election, is going to be an enormous opportunity in Asia.
Let me – let me mention what two other, I think, comparative advantages that you’re going to start to see that we have in the region that I think are important in terms of economics. This – the other one is energy. The United States is on the verge, if it already hasn’t become, the world’s energy superpower again. We had a President, President Obama, who was not very focused on unleashing America’s energy power. All the above energy – hydrocarbons, renewables. I think President-elect Trump will. And I think that presents enormous opportunities for deepen our economic, our security, and our energy security relationship between the United States and countries like Japan and Korea and Singapore, who are very, very interested in America LNG, American oil. And I think President Trump – President-elect Trump is going to be focused on that. To be perfectly honest, President Obama wasn’t. Yesterday he issued an order halting all lease sales off the coasts of Alaska, which I think is bad – certainly bad for Alaska, but bad for America. That’s going to change. And that’s important.
And finally, and we’ve all talked about it: allies. When you’re out in the Asia-Pacific, particularly given China’s aggressive actions in the South China Sea, every country in the region wants to be closer to the United States. What we need to do is deepen our traditional alliances with countries like Japan and Korea and Australia, and expand them with countries like India and Vietnam, Indonesia. And we have an enormous opportunity to do that. So I think we have a lot of – we have a lot of cards to play, and TPP isn’t just one of them.
Dr. Michael Auslin: Senator, thank you. There’s a lot in there, and a lot that goes back to really what we were talking about in the prior panel. But I want to focus on one thing you mentioned. You started off talking about the long-term national security challenges, China, and we’ve got obviously a room full of practitioners and experts, but we also have, as everyone who was here in the first panel knows, the man in charge of our presence, the continuity between the Obama and the Trump administrations in terms of our Asia-Pacific posture.
And Admiral Harris, I know your time is tight, and I – we all really appreciate you taking some time to spend a few minutes with us on this panel. And I wanted to ask you, if I could draw you into the conversation, and go back to what you talked about, the global operating system that you talked about in the first panel and return to it a little bit, and ask you, I guess, just a real simple question. I’m not a computer guy, so I don’t – I don’t understand operating systems, but I’d – I would ask, is China part of our operating system or is it building a different operating system.
Adm. Harry B. Harris, Jr.: Yeah. Micha, thanks for the question. And I’ve been taking some notes, so let me just make a few comments before I get right at the question of the global operating system.
I think that the economic rise of China since 1978 has been nothing short of remarkable. They’ve gone from what I mentioned in – during the previous panel, from a poor nation to the world’s second-largest GDP, estimate they’ll become the top GDP country by the mid-2020s. They’re already the number one country in terms of purchasing power parity and all of that. And so the United States welcomes a strong and rich China. We are concerned about an assertive, aggressive China. And I appreciate Senator Sullivan’s comments about the Thucydides trap. When I was in China not too long ago, I met with my counterpart there, General Fong (ph), and he talked about the Thucydides trap. And I reminded General Fong that, on the back end of Thucydides, Thucydides talks about the Melian dialogue, where he says the strong do what they can and the weak must suffer what they must – or the weak suffers what they must. And I believe that there are countries in Asia, in the Indo-Asia Pacific – I appreciate Ram’s description of that – of that region. I believe there are countries in the Indo-Asia Pacific that view themselves as Melos to China as to Beijing is Athens. And I think that’s – that is not what we want.
So to get at the question of the global operating system, I think that we want China to be a part of the global operating system. And just to take this analogy further – and you know, you could go crazy with this analogy, I guess; you could have fun with it – but China is introducing apps into that global operating system: OBOR, One Belt, One Road, is one; AIIB, the Asia Infrastructure Investment Bank is another; RCEP, the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership that Ram talked about, is yet another. And I believe, though, it’s important that those new things are in fact apps to the global operating system, and not malware. And I think it’s incumbent on all of us to work with China, to welcome them into the community of nations that support the rules-based international order, which, as I said before, I believe that the rules-based international order has benefited China more than any other nation. And – and it’s my hope that the – these new apps that they’re introducing are in fact apps and not malware.
Dr. Michael Auslin: Sir, thank you. Thank you very much. I’m going to make one quick note. Because we started a little late, we are going to end this, hard stop, at 11:30, or Peter will never ask me to be a moderator again. So – and I’m – since this isn’t working, I’m going to ask you to give me a 15-minute heads-up and then five-minute heads-up. Sir, thank you very much for that, and that question – that question of malware and then the adaptability of other states into that system.
I’d like to ask also another audience member to come in, and we are – we’re very pleased to have with us the Philippines’ Ambassador to Canada, Ambassador Petronila Garcia. And I’d like to ask you, Madam Ambassador, there’s obviously been a great amount of attention played to President Duterte recently, a lot of attention in the United States and in Asia. And I’d like to ask if, from the perspective of Manila, whether the belief in the Philippines is that, you know, take – counter to what Admiral Harris said, there is a new operating system being built in Asia, and it’s a Chinese one, and therefore the Philippines finds it in its interest to move to that operating system and dump ours. So can you give us some insight into that, please?
H.E. Petronila Garcia: Thank you very much. Let me addressed what you described as our shift to the operating system of China. Under the current administration of President Duterte, the Philippines remains committed to its Constitution’s directive to pursue an independent foreign policy. Thus, we are chartering a course that is pragmatic, putting our national interest first, fully cognizant of the regional dynamics, including those between an established power and a rising power. President Duterte has made it clear that, while we are encourage – while we are making new engagements, this does not mean that we are abandoning our country’s ties with traditional and historical allies like the United States. The President’s bilateral visit to China and other countries in Asia is intended to expand involvement in the region, which could assist in economic development of nations while further strengthening existing traditional relations.
We believe that our outreach to China has lowered tensions in the region. And while we open new opportunities for engagement with China, we also continue to nurture our alliance with the United States. I am happy to note that, from here, our Chief of Staff, General Visaya, and the Commander of the Pacific Command will be both travelling to Manila to review the activities that underpin our 70-year-old security cooperation.
An important pillar of our foreign policy that we are charting includes the strengthening of ASEAN centrality in the regional architecture. As we assume the chairmanship of the Association in 2017, we will be pushing for regional initiatives that are people-oriented and people-centred, ensuring peace and stability, promoting maritime cooperation, and fostering inclusive growth. And we also intend to encourage ASEAN resiliency and promote ASEAN as a model for regional and global power. We also hope to work to ensure that ASEAN remains at the centre of the regional architecture.
You may know that the first East Asia Summit remains the only forum in the region where leaders from the 18 countries come together annually to discuss a whole range of issues and concerns. The ASEAN Regional Forum, on the other hand, remains the primary forum for discussion of security-related issues by states in the Southeast Asian region and those interests – in the region. Like the rest of the international community, we recognize China’s rising profile and its intent to assume a largest – a larger leadership role in the region. China was the spirit behind the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, for example, which aims to promote economic growth through investment in infrastructure. The Philippines has signed this agreement, and we are now working on its ratification. We remain committed to legal frameworks that have underpinned the security and prosperity of our region. These are not unilateral impositions on any single state or government; rather, the community of nations has voluntarily agreed to be bound by these rules, which keep the region stable.
A very good example of this legal framework is UNCLOS, which provides for the maritime entitlements of states with access to waters. Its provisions, as interpreted by recognized international institutions, allow coastal states to maintain peace in their bilateral relations. Our full faith in this instrument is evidenced by the arbitration case that we filed. Moving forward, we will remain guided by the ruling as we start our engagements with other claimant states.
Let me close by saying that we will remain engaged, particularly as Chair of ASEAN, in shaping the regional architecture. We look forward to the active engagement and full participation of all our regional partners in this dynamic process. Thank you.
Dr. Michael Auslin: Madam Ambassador, thank you very much. I think that the attention that Washington will be paying to President Duterte, to the – to the pragmatic foreign policy that you’ve – that you’ve outlined here, is going to be increasing over the coming months. And already, you know, just in this part of the discussion, we’ve seen the level of complexity we’ve had. I want to bring in one more – before I open it up to the audience – one more US ally’s perspective.
We make certain assumptions, I think, about how we operate in the Pacific and the partners that will be there. And so there was, I would say, probably a mini shockwave, maybe something we don’t want to get too upset about or overreact to, but a mini shockwave a few weeks ago when Australia announced that it would not be doing freedom of navigation operations in the South China Sea. It’s easy to suddenly say the sky is falling or to try to put it in a larger context. And to do that, I’d like to ask Andrew Shearer, a good friend of many of us here – and I think, Andrew, this is your first time at Halifax, so we’re very happy to have you here. Andrew, as many of you know, served as the National Security Advisor to Prime Minister John Howard. And probably no one better to contextualize this for us, to give us a sense of where Australia might be going, so please.
Andrew Shearer: Micha, thank you very much, and thanks for a great panel. The first thing to say, really, is it’s hard to imagine a country that’s benefited more than Australia from China’s extraordinary economic growth. And I think, like every other country around the Indo-Pacific, what Australia really wants is the strongest possible economic relationship with China. But that said, we’re very wedded to this operating system that we’re all talking about today, and I think that’s why, frankly, there’s rising concern in Australia, whether you look at the South China Sea and what’s happening there. Sixty percent of our trade passes through those waters, and we’re seeing this creeping militarization and assertiveness there. Japan, where we’re seeing in the East China Sea an unprecedented number of air and sea incursions. Japan’s our most important partner in the region, and that’s very troubling for Australia. We’re seeing cyber attacks. And we’re seeing for the first time the intrusion of Chinese money into domestic politics in Australia.
Australia is responding to this set of challenges quite robustly, I think. We are embarking on a major defence spending increase. We are building the biggest navy build-up since the Second World War. We’re toughening our cyber defences, and we’re reaching out very much to new partners and allies, Japan and India principally among them. So Australia is responding. and we’re still strengthening the US alliance. We’ve got the second-largest military contribution fighting against ISIL in Iraq and Syria today, so we are responding.
But just to come back to your question and the premise, Micha, we’re going to have to stand up more, I think, in the alliance. And if this morning’s discussion is correct, we’re looking at a more transactional approach to alliances. And I, for one, hope that Australia will change its position and conduct freedom of navigation operations.
Dr. Michael Auslin: Andrew, thank you. I mean, that’s a great – that’s a great point, this tension between the transactional nature and what we always talk about, the values-based links that tie us together. And that clearly is going to be playing out.
Because of time, I want to turn to the audience. I was going to do another round. Let me – let me see if – I know Kamiya-Sensei and Ram, you wanted to make some brief comments, and then I want to open it up to you guys so we can get as much in before Peter pulls the plug on us. So –
Prof. Matake Kamiya: Yeah. I mean, I agree with what Admiral Harris said. I mean, the rise of China per se is not a source of concern for us. It is a thing which should be admired by all of us. But increasing assertiveness of China, which sometimes comes to, you know, beyond extreme, that is a – that should be a source of legitimate concern among the liberal democracies, us. And I think we have to admit that we have to face the reality that we observe increasing number of cases where the Chinese assertiveness go beyond somewhat extreme. And also, I mean, Admiral Harris in the previous session talked about what he called global operating system. I rather use the term liberal, open, international system, a rules-based system. But anyway, we have to face the reality that, as Admiral Harris said, that system has been under increasing pressure. And we have to admit that the major source of that increasing pressure is from China.
Yes, I mean, there’s opportunity toward the future, but now what is – what we have to think about is who will shape our future. And obviously, I mean, observing Chinese behaviour in South China Sea and East China Sea – I didn’t talk about the East China Sea before, I mean, in my first remark, but Japan faces quite a serious security threat in the East China Sea surrounding Senkaku Islands. I mean, since the year 2010 around, I mean, Japan has been – Japanese people on the street have come to sense a real type of a threat about that, you know, Senkaku Islands from China. That is the first case for the Japanese people in the post-war era that – in that they sense a real sense that, how do you say, their territory and that their control may be menaced by foreign power, and that’s China.
And what I want to say is, as Admiral Harris said, we want China to be a part of our global operating system, or liberal, open, international order. And actually, we have tried to induce China to be a part of that system. US policy of hedging and engagement, doing hedging and engagement together, or US policy of making – try to make China a responsible stakeholder, they are all – the – those efforts. But probably that efforts has been failing, and China has been more and more aggressive to produce their own operating system instead of our existing liberal, open, rules-based operating system in the region and in the world. And I think we have to stand up against that kind of efforts. We have to make relations with China, but we have to shape the international order, shape the future of international order, by ourselves. We means – I mean liberal democracies. We liberal democracies has to shape the future of our world. And we shouldn’t let China to shape the future of our world. Thank you very much.
Dr. Michael Auslin: Great. Thank you. Ram, and then we’re going to turn to the audience for a few questions.
Ram Madhav: A quick comment about this global operating system and whether China can be a part of it. As the Chinese famous saying goes, there cannot be two tigers in the same forest. There cannot be two moons in the same sky. America has to decide. There can be a Chinese operating system in which America can be a part, the rest of the world can be a part. This is a very difficult issue to think that China, as it is the very (inaudible) today, can be a part of any global operating system.
That brings us to the crux of the issue: how do you handle it? We have an active engagement with China. We are – in the last few years developed a strong working relationship with that country. From the experience of several decades, I can say that we need to develop – strengthen global operating system first. It should function. It should show that it exists. In 2007 China has used a ballistic missile to destroy a satellite. That time the excuse given was we didn’t have any rules in place to address such problems. AD is all past. Do we have any rules today?
We are out to eppies (ph). We have to develop an operating system that is strong enough to engage wherever it is possible, but also stand up wherever it is required. And first rately (ph), that is not the kind of operating system that exists today. We want to have an operating system where we can please and cajole countries to bring in – pull them in. I’m afraid for countries in the region which face the heat on a daily basis, like India, that’s not the kind of operating system that’s going to work. Five islands have been constructed in South China Sea artificially in the last few years. Three of them have a military, I mean, (inaudible). What is the kind of operating system we are talking about? I think we are (inaudible) very seriously. I just repeat, because unless I misunderstood, engagement wherever it is possible. That’s what we do. We have strong engagement with China. But also, not confrontation. I’m not talking about confrontation, but standing up wherever it is required. That’s the kind of operating system we have to develop in the void.
Dr. Michael Auslin: Thank you. Admiral, clearly you should have moderated this panel. It’s been – it’s become the operating system panel. So no longer about a great continent. Let me try to – I need to because we’re really running out of time, and I hate to do it, but I’m going to grab just a few questions at once. Please make them as brief as you possibly can so we can get some answers before we are cut down. Alyssa, you had your hand up real early, so right up here, please.
Alyssa Ayres: I’ll try to be fast. Alyssa Ayres, Council on Foreign Relations. For any of the panellists, one of the things that I worry about most with what we see emerging in Asia is this set of new institutions that are China-led, that China’s created, and which – in which the United States has not yet declared any interest in being an observer. I mean, we sort of did not – well, part of the rise of the AIIB had to do with our own delayed support for World Bank and IMF reform, but that’s a separate issue. But we’re not observers with the AIIB, and many of our allies around the world have joined. The development of the New Development Bank, the BRICS Bank, a similar phenomenon: we’re not observers there. We are not observers in the Shanghai Cooperation Organization. There’s an organization called CICA, the Conference on Interaction and Confidence Building in Asia. We are observers there, but we tend to send a very low-level person. It’s not a high priority for us. So I do worry that there’s the creation of alternative regional institutions in which we’re kind of not even showing up to have a voice or even express our views
Dr. Michael Auslin: Alright. Thank you. We had one right here, this gentleman.
Hideshi Tokuchi: My name is Hideshi Tokuchi. I’m Senior Fellow of the National Graduate Institute for Policy Studies of Japan, and also a former government official in Japan. For any of the panellists, I have a question about the role of Taiwan in shaping a rules-based international order. Taiwan is also a democracy, and the new leadership came in in Taiwan, and the new President of Taiwan is more independent minded than her predecessor, but she is committed to, you know, respect – committed to maintaining the status quo. And also, Taiwan is facing not only South China Sea but the East China Sea. So I’m interested in hearing your views about the role of Taiwan, and also the future relationship between the United States and Taiwan.
Dr. Michael Auslin: Thank you. I’m going to grab two quick more questions. Mark, and then sir.
Mark Fitzpatrick: Thank you. Mark Fitzpatrick, International Institute for Strategic Studies. This morning we heard a great deal of angst, strong angst, about the next US President’s leadership. We heard it from Europeans, from Americans. The Asians who spoke in the last panel talked about China. Here again we’re talking about China. Am I right in sensing that there’s a real difference in the way that Asians see the next four years, or maybe longer term, than the angst that we hear from Europeans?
Dr. Michael Auslin: So a world of angst. And then we’ve got one more comment.
Manoj Joshi: Thank you. Manoj Joshi from the Observer Research Foundation in New Delhi. The point I want to raise, I think Sun Tzu was mentioned. And I think one of the pop sayings attributed to him is, you know, applaud in the east and attack in the west. And I was wondering why the One Belt, One Road had not come up. My own view is that, yes, of course things are happening in the South China Sea, but I think China has, with its three islands under its control, it’s very much – things are under its control, they don’t have to worry. It’s the One Belt, One Road which is fascinating because, in the last couple of years, the manner in which China has virtually pushed out Russia from Central Asia and it’s pressing ahead. You know, with the – every six months you hear of a new train. You know, one landed up in Afghanistan, the other in Teheran. And then I was looking at the figures and I found that, between 2001 and 2014, Iran was the largest recipient of Chinese foreign aid. Pakistan was number two. So you have a consolidation going on, Eurasian consolidation, which is actually moving westwards, and strangely enough, to Europe, with the – with the Chinese making big moves in the central and eastern Europe.
The point I’m trying to make is —
Dr. Michael Auslin: (Crosstalk)
Manoj Joshi: — Chinese moves are extremely sudden. In the Indian Ocean, we have seen Chinese naval activity suddenly come up between 2014 and now, meaning the – it’s since 2014. And so as you look, it’s actually happening. So when we look at the Eurasia, we actually see – and with the weakening Russia, the Chinese consolidation, which of course their target is 2049. It’s not – it’s not tomorrow. But I would – my view is that it is the Eurasian consolidation which China is focusing on, not so much the South China Sea, which is already under its control.
Dr. Michael Auslin: Thank you, Manoj. So we’ve got just a few minutes. I’m going to ask each of our panellists to give a brief remark and to comment to anything that’s been mentioned. Senator, would you go first?
Sen. Dan Sullivan: Yeah. I just think the original question on the institutions is a really good one. And my view is that we should be engaged. We don’t have to lead every one of them. I think the way we handled the AIIB was clumsy, and it wasn’t advancing our own interests. So we can engage. We can continue to engage with the strategic economic dialogue which President Bush launched with Secretary Paulson, and then President Obama continued. I think that kind of engagement, but hedging with our allies, is an appropriate strategy with regard to China.
And the question on Taiwan is also a really good one. You know, again, to me, one of the big comparative advantages the United States still has around the world, if you look at any of our potential adversaries or rivals – China, Russia, Iran, North Korea – one common denominator is they’re all ally poor, and we’re an ally-rich nation. And we should be deepening our alliances with Taiwan, with other countries in the region, but expanding it. And I think we have a great opportunity to do that. Interestingly, there was questions earlier about the role of the Congress. The Taiwans Relation Act was passed by the United States Congress. That’s the Act that determines the foreign policy of the United States’ relations with Taiwan, that is still the driver of that relationship today. That was passed by the US Congress over a President who didn’t want it. So we have a large role to play, particularly the United States Senate, in terms of our foreign policy and national security going forward.
And just a final point. It came up with regard to Australia. In terms of the FONOPs that Admiral Harris has been leading with regard to the United States, the Freedom of Navigation operations, we should be doing these regularly. We should be signalling, as he mentioned. They should be a big deal. We should go within the 12-mile territorial boundaries on these rocks that the Chinese are claiming. We should not just do innocent passage, but we can do military-type operations in those regions, and we should do it with our allies, whether it’s the Japanese, hopefully sometime the Indians, and certainly – certainly, certainly – the Australians. I didn’t know that they’re not doing that anymore, and I’m a little concerned. So we – please pass the message back to your government that we want the Aussies, who’ve been with us and vice-versa for decades, doing FONOPs with us. It’s really important.
Dr. Michael Auslin: Thank you. Ram and then (inaudible).
Ram Madhav: Alyssa’s question struck me. It’s like accepting the fait accompli. Become at least advisors in the – or observers in the new architecture that is developing in our region. Fair enough? That’s what I said? You can decide to become a part of the new global order or global architecture that is developing. You may call it regional, not over the regional arrangement. But the arrangement that is happening – Manoj Joshi has talked about new Russia. I tell you today Africa is also a part of that architecture. Large parts of Asia, large parts of – certain parts of Europe, they’re all part of that – that great architecture that is building up in our region led by China. Alyssa suggests that we should become observers in that. Good luck to you.
But I would like to remind you one thing: that with TPP also not taking off – please don’t take me otherwise, we are friends, I agree. We are not formal strategic allies, but our former Prime Minister Vajpayee has described India and US relations as natural allies. So we are – together we are well wishers. But in the new developing architecture in our region, the role of US is gradually but definitely diminishing. The day you give up on TPP, you are written off. Today your military assets are wasted assets when it comes to China. Your Okinawa (inaudible)… You can use Okinawa against other countries, but not China. Your space assets largely are wasted assets. Today in the region China plays a very, very big role compared to US. You probably can think in terms of engaging as observers in other things.
Otherwise, as I said, you have to strengthen global institutions so that there is a fair, legal, rule-based establishment in the region. That is not the reality today. We countries which are big, we know how to handle, we know how to protect our own national interests. But we are in favour of establishing a good (inaudible) talked – Dov mentioned about Taiwan. We are forgetting about debate. There are issues that need our attention as a global order.
Dr. Michael Auslin: Thanks. And very briefly and finally, Matake.
Prof. Matake Kamiya: The gentleman there asked us whether the Asians are afraid of, are worried about Trump. I do not know in other countries what’s going on, but in Japan I think intellectuals mainly and politicians are worried about America under President Trump. Why? Mainly because of China and North Korea. And leaving North Korea aside, in China, as I said, I mean, China is now trying to change the existing international operating system. And Japan has been a beneficiary of this existing inter—rules-based international order for many years with – together with America, United States, European Union states, and so on and so forth. But now it’s under the pressure. And Prime Minister Abe has repeatedly made his resolve, and the country’s resolve, to protect main thing, the liberal, open, rules-based order in the Asia-Pacific and globally. I admire his resolve that – I think he knows, and everyone knows, that Japan alone cannot do it, cannot achieve that goal. Japan needs the United States, or the Asia needs the United States, or the international community needs the United States, if we want to protect the existing rules-based international order.
What will Donald Trump do with regard to this rules-based order? I mean, we are very afraid, particularly when we listen to what Trump says about the alliance. Trump demands Japan to pay more for the alliance, maintenance of the US-Japan alliance. Well, I mean, I have many things to say. But (inaudible) shelling is a kind of legitimate stuff. But when he says that – he says that, you know, United States is protecting Japan, Japan should pay more, that’s a very worrisome logic that Trump used. I mean, of course, you know, Japanese admits that, you know, US-Japan alliance protects Japan’s security. But today, US-Japan alliance is much more than that. It is not – that goal of US-Japan alliance, not only the protection of Japan, Japanese security, but more than that, the protection of what Admiral Harris said, that you know, operating system, international operating system, particularly in the Asia-Pacific. And from Trump’s view, it seems that that important aspect is totally missing. And if that’s the case, will he make America sufficiently committed to the protection of the existing rules-based order or not? That’s a very big concern, a source of concern for the Japanese.
Dr. Michael Auslin: Thank you. And the very last word, Senator Sullivan. Do you have anything you’d like to add to any of that?
Sen. Dan Sullivan: Well, look. I think – as – I’ve been kind of repeating myself here a little bit about allies. And – but there’s a – the federal government – you have the President, his appointees, who we’re starting to see who they – who they are; you have the US Congress. And I do think there is a broad-based recognition of the importance of our allies. I also do think, though, and I’ll raise it again, you know, the United States, in terms of power projection in the region, in the Asia-Pacific region, of course there’s the military, which Admiral Harris is in charge of, but there’s also the power of our economy. And we have had ten years – ten years – of a lost decade of growth in the United States, growing at about one and a half percent GDP growth. We have to change that. To me, that could be one of the most important things we can do to revitalize our engagement in the region. A strong United States economically is a way to make sure that we’re engaged but also deepening our relationship with our allies and other countries. And so, to me, strong allies, strong economy, I think we’re going to be – continue to be engaged as we have been for the last 70 years in leading in that region. Of course there’s challenges with China. But if we focus on those issues – growth and alliances – I think that we have a bright future there.
Dr. Michael Auslin: Thank you. Ladies and gentlemen, to wrap up, let me just remind you as a historian that Thucydides never finished his book. So join me in thanking our panel.