Mr. President, over the past three weeks I have given three speeches calling our attention to the rising threat that China is becoming to our national security. Today I will highlight the areas that most directly affect our national security: weapons proliferation and military modernization. These two aspects are interrelated and add an alarming dynamic to our complex relationship with China.
It is a difficult situation, one in which information is our best resource. Five years ago Congress created the bipartisan U.S.-China Commission to study the significance of recent events and the impact these have on our national security. The Commission has held hearings and enlisted the services of experts across the world to gain clarity about what is happening with China. The conclusions are compiled in the US-China Economic and Security Review Commission's 2004 report to Congress, a document that forms an alarming picture of where we are heading.
China has made commitments to stop proliferating weapons of mass destruction technology and materials over and over since 1992. However, reality has been markedly different as Chinese companies and individuals still proliferate illegal technology to countries of concern. The Commission recently held a hearing on China's proliferation practices and many witnesses issued grave reservations. Just this past January, the Bush administration sanctioned six Chinese companies and one individual for aiding Iran's missile development program. Two of these companies, China Great Wall Industry Corporation and China North Industries Corporation, also known as NORINCO, have been sanctioned so often in the last decade that they have been labeled "serial proliferators." Another penalized company, China Aero-Technology Import and Export Corporation, is suspected of transferring McDonnell Douglas technology to China's military. Ironically, the fact is that while China has been able to keep a close eye on its dissidents, they have been unable or unwilling to control its own companies that proliferate problematic technologies. According to State Department testimony, China has a "serial proliferation problem," and while the official line is to crack down on weapons trade, "reality has been quite different."
In recent years these transfers have become even more problematic, as the Commission details in its 2004 annual report:
"… Chinese transfers have evolved from sales of complete missile systems, to exports of largely dual-use nuclear, chemical, and missile components and technologies … Recent activities 'have aggravated trends that result in ambiguous technical aid, more indigenous capabilities, longer range missiles, and secondary proliferation. Continuing intelligence reports indicate that Chinese cooperation with Pakistan and Iran remains an integral element of China's foreign policy… Beijing's failure to control such transfers gives the appearance that these are allowed in accordance with an unstated national policy. China has generally tried to avoid making fundamental changes in its transfer policies by offering the United States carefully worded commitments or exploiting differences between agreements."
In mid-2003, the CIA reported to Congress that "firms in China provided dual-use missile-related items, raw materials, and/or assistance to … countries of proliferation concern such as Iran, Libya, and North Korea." In connection with the activities of these recently sanctioned companies we see that Chinese firms are not concerned about the consequences. During the Commission's recent hearing on China's proliferation, a State Department official said: "there is no doubt that we feel China can do and should be doing more to prevent the spread of WMD." Why aren't they? Well, perhaps we need to consider that something else is going on here besides profits.
China seems to proliferate with countries that have been terrorist sponsors such as Iran, Iraq and Libya. These countries in turn offer China something they desperately need: oil. In my last speech I discussed China's search for oil sources and the implications this has on economic and national security. But the connection here is beyond energy. The Commission report describes what this looks like:
"This need for energy security may help explain Beijing's history of assistance to terrorist-sponsoring states, with various forms of WMD-related items and technical assistance, even in the face of U.S. sanctions … But, this pursuit of oil diplomacy may support objectives beyond just energy supply. Beijing's bilateral arrangements with oil-rich Middle Eastern states also helped create diplomatic and strategic alliances with countries that were hostile to the United States. For example, with U.S. interests precluded from entering Iran, China may hope to achieve a long-term competitive advantage relative to the United States. Over time, Beijing's relationship-building may counter U.S. power and enhance Beijing's ability to influence political and military outcomes. One of Beijing's stated goals is to reduce what it considers U.S. superpower dominance in favor of a multipolar global power structure in which China attains superpower status on par with the United States."
I cannot say it stronger than that. China is exploiting our timidity. The Commission's recommendations suggest that we need to develop a better coordinated, comprehensive strategy for addressing the challenges posed by China, and will be coming out with new recommendations in March, 2005, which I am looking forward to reading. Coordinating our approach is very sound advice and I will be introducing a resolution shortly to that effect.
Another major area of concern is China's military modernization. The weapons China is investing in include cruise missiles, amphibious assault ships, submarines, long-range target acquisition systems, and advanced SU-30 fighter aircraft that are superior in many ways to our F-15 and F-16 fighters. The Commission believes that at least one key purpose of this modernization is to prepare for a Taiwan conflict scenario: "[China's] military advancements have resulted in a dramatic shift in the cross-Strait military balance toward China, with serious implications for Taiwan, for the United States, and for cross-Strait relations." The Commission states there are two key ways the U.S. can help limit China's military advancement. The first is to pressure the EU to maintain its arms embargo on China. This is a group of bipartisan experts saying this. Second, we should have harsher punishments for contractors who sell sensitive technology to China. We need a comprehensive, annual report on who is selling what to China because, quite frankly, right now we simply don't know exactly how deep this problem goes.
Opting to ignore the situation with China is not a choice that the American people can afford. I urge this body to listen closely to the Commission's conclusion:
"We need to use our substantial leverage to develop an architecture that will help avoid conflict, attempt to build cooperative practices and institutions, and advance both countries' long-term interests. The United States has the leverage now and perhaps for the next decade, but this may not always be the case…If we falter in the use of our economic and political influence now to effect positive change in China, we will have squandered an historic opportunity…China will likely not initiate the decisive measures toward more meaningful economic and political reform without substantial, sustained, and increased pressure from the United States."
In the resolution I introduce I will be asking you to stand behind the US-China Commission's recommendations. These recommendations are listed in this book, the 2004 Report to Congress. I have highlighted a few of these in my recent speeches, but there are many more. We need to send a message of urgency to the administration to adopt what our own Commission recommends. This is not a partisan move. This is a real and legitimate need to respond to the facts before us. We have a clear picture of where the trends are heading- economically, militarily and in ideology-and the security of the United States demands our response.