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Foreign Policy

Strategic Security Dialogue puts Military Exchange in the Framework of General Strategic Trust

May 18 , 2011
  • Wang Jisi

    President, Institute of International and Strategic Studies, Peking University

Video Interview

Speaker – Wang Jisi, Dean of the School of International Relations at Peking University and Director of the Institute of National Strategic Studies at the Party School of Central Committee


Full Video:



Video Sections Divided by Questions:


Q1: This week marks the third round of the Strategic & Economic Dialogues between China and the United States. What imact has the previous two sessions had on the China- US bilateral relationship, and is this session expected to build on any of the previous forum's achievements?


A1: About the Economic Dialogues, I think the greatest achievements have been that the both sides know each other much better than before. And it was not easy for the two sides to gather together, so many important people representing different government agencies, and it was very difficult actually, to coordinate among themselves, among the Chinese side and among the American side to get to know each other first and then they get together. Both side people get together and discuss important issues related to security, and the economical relations and many other things in world politics and economics.  And so I think they got to know each other much better than before in the two rounds of dialogues. And this is the third one, and they would know each other even better than before. It is not simply a question of acquaintances, it’s a question of trust and understanding. Because if you don’t understand each other, you don’t trust each other, but the starting point is that you get to know each other personally and organizationally. So I think the two previous sessions, two previous conferences and dialogues made a great impact on the third one in that sense. It is a continued process, building upon each other, session by session, and also it is important to know that the security part of the dialogue and the economics dialogue have some interaction, because they are connected with each other, they have some interaction between, not only the United States and China, but between security discourse and economic discourse. So I think the third one will be even more significant than before. As we are going to talk about, you know, there is a larger part of the dialogue focusing on security issues.




Q2: The RMB currency matter was the economic focus of the S&ED last year. What do you think the economic focus will be this year? Do you think CHina will raise the issue of the U.S. government debt, since it is the biggest creditor of the U.S.?



A2: I think this year’s agenda in economics will be further complicated by a number of factors. Last year it was natural that the both sides were very much touched upon by the financial crisis, that’s one of the reasons why the United States focused on the Renminbi evaluation. This year there are a number of issues rising up, based on last years’ mutual concerns. One is Renminbi, I think that is American concern. Another is the Chinese concerned about treasury bonds. We are holding in the United States the stock market. Another concern is that China is ready, and many Chinese businesses is ready to put more money in American market, investing in the American domestic market, in new energy or oil or some other businesses. And when the Chinese businesses are out, trying to open their offices in the United States, when they want to invest, when they want to get more treasury bonds, they are faced with some environment that they are not very familiar with. And there are also some political obstacles, for them to overcome.  So the two sides will try to find a way to overcome these difficulties and obstacles and this is a new set of questions they will have to face with. That is China’s direct and indirect investment in US.




Q3: This year the Strategic Security Dialogue has been added into the agenda of the S&ED. What does each side want to achieve through this dialogue and why have China and the U.S. decided to initiate this exchange in addition to the military-to-military dialogue?




A3: I think the military to military relationship is very crucial in bilateral relations between United States and China.  But I think also it is an indicator of the overall US-China relationship. And military relationships have been a sensitive issue between the two sides. If you go back to the history, both sides have used military to military exchange as an instrument to show their anger, or to show their anxiety in the pervious crisis: EP3 air collision crisis, and even before when you know, Li Denghui visited United States in 1995, China showed its anger and also suspended military to military exchanges.  So I think this kind of situation was not very conducive to the current US-China relationship, although we can understand the past problems. The more important thing for this dialogue is that the military to military relationship not a simply bilateral military to military per se, but is put into the general framework of strategic trust. And I think it is also very important for the civilian side on both sides, to know more about the military thinking, their perceptions of each other, their ideas about the over all relationship. So I think it is very very important for both the civilian side and the military side to get to know each other. The military to military people sit together, but they also sit together with the civilians, with the economic policy makers, with political policy makers, with those who have little knowledge about the military to military relationship. So it is very very important for them to do so.




Q4: This year's S&ED is coming at a sensitive time in China-US relations, given allegations from the U.S. of human rights abuses and artifically low currency levels. To what extent will the S&ED address these issues and how much is expected to be achieved in these areas?



A4: There are several reasons why the Americans this time are more concerned about what they called “human rights violations” in China. They have domestic reasons and there are people in the United States who are concerned about the long-term future of China. People say, well, China is still a communist country. We call ourselves a socialist country, while they call China a communist country led by the Communist Party, which they don’t necessarily like. And this China will continue to rise up with a different political system, with what they see as suppression of some civil rights. So they have some reasons to suspect that this rising China may have more implications of America’s political system, America’s soft power in the world, China’s rising influences in the Philippines, in developing countries, so this time they have stepped up their pressure on China’s human rights record and they want to insert this agenda into the political dialogue. And also some Americans are encouraged by what they see as dramatic changes in the Middle East, they call this a process of democratization, and they hope that china will also have some political changes to their liking. And I don’t think that this is going to happen. I think it will not be very conducive or very productive to raise those issues with these people. So Chinese and Americans have a separate track to talk about human rights interest in both countries. So I hope that this will not be a significant part of the Security and Economic Dialogue since we named it Strategic and Economic dialogue, although everything could be raised, but there should be some proportion of one issue or another. And I don’t think human rights should be a dominating agenda in this type of dialogue.




Q5: Do you think the two countries's indifferences on human rights issues will have a negative impact on the dialogue?


A5: I don’t really think so. I think we understand, it is understandable that the United States will raise those issues from time to time and some times they speak louder and sometimes they don’t speak louder.  Because of the variety of reasons, not simply related to China but related to their domestic politics. And almost we know what they are going to say. So my expectation is that it will not move the situation backward or whatever, if we are looking at it more broadly, common securities and economic relations between the two countries.




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