Understanding Chinese Foreign Policy "Assertiveness": Bonnie Glaser, CSIS Fellow

Summary coming soon.

China's Nuclear Power Building Boom: Ambassador Thomas Graham and William Fork, Esq.

Summary coming soon.

China, Then and Now: Ambassador Nicholas Platt

On February 9, 2011, Ambassador Nicholas Platt, former President of the Asia Society, spoke about his experiences in Beijing in the early years of US-China relations. He began by showing videos he had taken as a diplomatic aide on President Richard Nixon’s historic visit to Beijing and as an embassy attaché in subsequent years. He narrated over the footage showing the progress in Beijing from hutongs to high rises, the much-publicized visit of the US National swim team, and People’s Liberation Army parades and celebrations.

He described his involvement in the “nuts and bolts” of the US-China relationship—the trade, education, and the other small exchanges that were, in his opinion, the most important aspects of a delicate initial relationship. Though he was not privy to the higher level “US-China-Soviet balancing act” that was occurring, he emphasized how cooperative his Chinese peers were, and how easily the two sides established an operational trust.

When audience members expressed concerns about China’s burgeoning economy and rising nationalism, Ambassador Platt pointed out that the US has been integral to China’s growth and that nationalism is not the engine of political life. He is more interested in how the generational shifts in Chinese leadership will affect the future.

His experiences as a diplomat in China are documented in his memoir, China Boys.


U.S. Foreign Policy towards China: David Shear, Deputy Assistant Secretary, State Department​​​​​​​

On December 1, 2010, David B. Shear, the Deputy Assistant Secretary for East Asian and Pacific Affairs in the State Department, spoke on U.S.-China relations and foreign policy objectives. He began by describing China’s desire for stable bilateral relations with the United States and U.S. leaders’ recognition of the economic interdependence between the countries. Some of the goals the State Department has vis-à-vis China are that China participate responsibly in the international community, contribute to regional stability, and respect human rights and the rule of law. Secretary Shear discussed how China’s stubbornness on its fixed exchange rate and non-peaceful attitude towards its neighbors are examples of some irresponsible behavior, which the U.S. is addressing by making friendships around China’s periphery for diplomatic leverage.

He also explained what transpired at senior levels on both sides in the first half of 2010, setting down the U.S.’s four objectives and its progress. First, the U.S. announced an over $6 billion arms transfer to Taiwan early in the year to get it out of the way, knowing that the Chinese would be displeased. On the topic of Iran sanctions, China continued to refuse compliance in the U.N. Security Council. Similarly, Secretary Shear noted that the strategic economic dialogue in Beijing in May and the G20 meeting in June did not yield the desired result of greater flexibility on the exchange rate of Chinese renminbi. Due to the unexpected attacks on South Korea by North Korea, the U.S. has achieved some gradual movement towards 6-party talks in the Korean Peninsula. However, China still provides some diplomatic cover for North Korea, which created friction between the U.S. and China that tinged diplomatic relations in the latter half of 2010.

Secretary Shear concluded by touching on the “strategic mistrust” between the two countries over foreign policy goals that must be managed intensively at senior levels. Small, private meetings between both countries’ highest leaders have been extremely important to maintaining relations, he says, and the U.S. will be looking forward to making progress on its four goals in the same vein.

One notable fact about this event is the presence of three one-time Deputy Assistant Secretaries for East Asian and Pacific Affairs, including David Shear, Evans Revere, and Thomas Christensen.

"The Dragon's Gift: Myths and Realities of Chinese Engagement in Africa": Professor Deborah Brautigam, American University

On November 11, 2010, Professor Deborah Brautigam from American University gave a talk on China's strategic engagement in Africa. Professor Brautigam does field work in Sierra Leone and Tanzania. She first discussed how Chinese development assistance differs from aid from western countries. Chinese emphasis is on infrastructure and production and higher education. In contrast, the West focuses on poverty reduction, primary school, etc. We in the West tend to think the Chinese are only in Africa for their natural resources. China is interested in every sector. She further delineated the differences in four areas: China's foreign policy framework of non-interference in internal affairs and an emphasis on mutual benefit; beliefs about how development works; China's own experience as a developing country; and following the paths of Japan, ROK, and Taiwant in assistance to countires in in SE Asia.

China uses primarily four instruments to advance its goals: (1) commodities-backed infrastructure credits(loans), (2) overseas economic zones, (3) agro-technical centers, and (4) a $5 billion equity fund called the China-Africa Development Fund.

During the question and answer session, significant discussion on the mutual benefit for China and African nations and whether China's aid was doing the most amount of good for these nations.

Ethnic Politics in China: Enze Han, China and the World Fellow

Enze Han’s talk discussed how different ethnic groups react differently towards China’s nation-building policies: why do some ethnic groups strive for secession while others are willing to settle for mere cultural autonomy or even to accept assimilation? In particular, it examined the role of different groups’ external kindred relations to explain divergence in groups’ national belonging and political strategies in China.


Rule of Law Development in China: Panel Discussion

From left to right: Jacques Delisle, Susan Pologruto, Yanfei Ran, Amy Gadsden, and Evans Revere

On October 13, 2010, CWP, along with the Woodrow Wilson School and LAPA, held a panel discussion on rule of law development in China. Four panelists gave their views on the topic. The first panelist was Professor DeLisle, an expert on contemporary Chinese law and politics. He focuses his research on legal reform and its relationship to economic reform and political change in China, the international status of Taiwan and cross-Strait relations, China’s engagement with the international order and aspects of US-China relations. Professor DeLisle serves as Director of the Asia Program of the Foreign Policy Research Institute and Vice Chair of the Pacific Rim Interest Group of the American Society of International Law. He serves frequently as an expert witness on issues of PRC law and government policies and speaks frequently on legal reform in China. Professor Delisle graduated from Princeton with a A.B., summa cum laude, and is a Woodrow Wilson School alum. He received his JD, magna cum laude from Harvard Law School.

Our next panelist was Susan Pologruto. Ms. Pologruto just recently transitioned from the USAID Democracy and Governance Office where she was the Rule of Law Advisor. Her portfolio included Burma, Mongolia, China, and Timor-Leste and was responsible for designing the USAID rule of law program in China. Ms. Pologruto has experience in conducting workshops and case study exercises in Administrative Law, Access to Justic, and other rule of law workshops. Ms. Pologruto is currently a Program Analyst within the Bureau for Democracy Conflict, and Humanitarian Assistance of USAID. Ms. Pologruto received a BA, magna cum laude in Women’s History from Rutgers University. She received a JD and MSW from the University of Pennsylvania.

Our third panelist was Ms. Yanfei Ran. She practiced law in China for 12 years and served as an assistant to the District People’s Procuratorate Office in Beijing. She has received several law degrees, an LLB from the Central University for Nationalities, an LLM from the Peking University Law School, an LLM in Intellectual property and Information Technology Law from Fordham Law School, and an LLM in International Law and Justice, also from Fordham Law.

Our final panelist was Dean Amy Gadsden from Penn Law. Dr. Gadsden is Associate Dean and Executive Director for International Programs at the University of Pennsylvania Law School. Prior to Penn Law, Dean Gadsden was Special Advisor for China in the State Department’s Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor. She has worked extensively on joint cooperation projects with Chinese governmental and non-governmental agencies and has done consulting work for the United Nations Development Programme, the United Nations High Commissioner’s Office for Human Rights, the Pew Charitable Trusts, and the National Committee on US-China Relations. She is a senior fellow at the Foreign Policy Research Institute (FPRI) and an Advisory Council member of the Women’s Democracy Network (WDN). Most recently, she served as Resident Country Director for China at the International Republican Institute (IRI), a non-profit organization dedicated to advancing democracy worldwide. Dean Gadsden has a B.A. in History and English from Yale College and a Ph.D. in Chinese history from the University of Pennsylvania.​​​​​​​

Professor Jacques Delisle, Penn Law, gives historical overview of China's rule of law development and predictions on the future

Professor Delisle gave an overview of the rule of law in China. He first defined what rule of law means, which includes judicial review with automoous courts, quasi-independent courts, and the equal enforcement of laws on the books. He stated that China generally finds that these are not a priority and the CCP tend to give legal portfolios to ideologically ost conservative and lowest ranking members of the politburo.

Professor Delisle examined the metrics of China's rule of lwa. According to the World Bank rule of law index, China is in the mid 40s, slightly behind Eastern Europe in that respect. He also noted that China has about 4-5 million civil suits per year with abouta 40% enforcement rate of judgments in civil cases. Regarding litigant satisfaction, he noted that the most likely indicator that one would litigate in court if one knew someone else who had gone to court. Regarding administrative law, he noted that, when suing the state, about 20-40% of cases succeed.

Regarding gaps in China's legal system, Professor Delisle noted that China has many laws on the books that are world-class, but are not well implemented. The law in China continues to evolve with quite a bit of input from the international community. Professor Delisle noted that the legal infrastructure is still developing and will take some time to build. He noted for instance that there is a great variance in the quality of lawyers and judges between interior China and the coastal area. Many judges in Shanghai, for example, hold college degrees with many holding graduate degrees.

Forecasting the road ahead for China, Professor Delisle predicted that the rule of law will continue to develop because of the sheer fact that China does have so many laws on the books and that social constituencies, such as China's growing middle class, will demand more legal rights and will want such rights to be protected. As well, environmental problems and the NIMBY effect may spur litigation and the seeking of redress in courts. He noted however, the road ahead is nonetheless not without problems. The commitment to moving toward rule of law is purely instrumental and that the legal syustem is not really designed to provide a safety valve for social unrest, riots, and dissatisfaction.​​​​​​​

Ms. Pologruto, USAID Rule of Law Advisor, spoke on the rule of law program she helped create. She noted that this recently came up as a program due to high congressional interest, which has led to consistent line-item budgeting for the development of the rule of law in China since 2006. She noted that the current budget is about $20 million USD and consists of partnerships with universities and law student exchanges, curriculum development, and legal aid clinics. USAID now partners with the Asia Foundation and the American Bar Association to provide assistance in transparenty and administrative governance, administrative law clinics, and legal aid services.

Ms. Ran spoke generally on the state of law practice in China today. She said that increasingly, more lawyers and judges are accredited and beginning to develop professional standards, but that China still had a long way to go. She noted that the law is a profession that doesn't attract too many students because more students want to go into the private sector than work on legal reform.

Dean Gadsden spoke on the US' historical interest in China's development of the rule of law. She then spoke on the many initiatives from the Clinton and Bush administrations on the rule of lw in China and executive interest in trying to engage China on this topic. She also spoke on the state of legal reform in China in that there are many lawyers and laws, but the state has yet to embrace the institutions to support the rule of law. In many cases, the rule of law is the first step, but in China's case, it may be that the rule of law will be the final step for China.

Chinese Economic Statecraft: William Norris, for the Princeton-Harvard China and the World Program​​​​​​​

While the rest of the world has endured a significant economic downturn over the past few years, China has experienced a relatively shallow dip followed by what appears to be an early recovery. Moreover, Chinese firms seem to have responded to the economic downturn by seizing the buying opportunity created by financially distressed entities having to liquidate valuable assets at “fire sale prices.” Popular responses are often critical of the non-commercial motivations of this economic activity. At the heart of these fears lies suspicion of state involvement.

The question of whether this economic behavior merits exceptional response often turns on the role the Chinese government plays in directing or shaping the behavior of economic actors. The talk sought to contribute to our understanding of the strategic consequences of China’s international economic activity. Dr. Norris presented a definition of economic statecraft and a conceptual framework for understanding how to think about this phenomenon. The second half of the talk focused on examining several of China’s state financing organizations.

Cybersecurity and China: Adam Segal, Council on Foreign Relations

"The Chinese see us as growing more vunerable and they less so."

On October 6, 2010, Adam Segal, the Ira A. Lipman senior fellow for counterterrorism and national security studies at the Council on Foreign Relations, gave a lecture on China and cybersecurity. He expressed that the United States and China have different interests. The US has an interest in an internet that is global, open, and secure whileChina has an interest in an internet that is secure, partially global, and not necessarily global. He also mentioned that the US talks about cyber security while China talks about information security. Dr. Segal also touched on the topic of cyber espionage, which the US defines as use of computer network operations to destroy, damage, and cause casualities. The problems with cyber conflict include attribution and identifying the purpose of intrusions, which makes it difficult to build a stable deterrent. The Chinese see social media, such as Google, Twitter, and Facebook as undermining the larger legitimacy of the CCP. He noted the overlap in interests for cooperation is small. Dr. Segal noted to move forward in this aspect of US-CHina relations, both nations must engage in multilateral cooperation and dialogue.

Dr. Segal noted we can be optimistic that such a dialogue may begin in that China may be nervous about hacking and cyber attacks, which may open the door for cooperation. China is not a unitary actor, there are some factions within the government that tend to be more forward leaning on cyber. Dr. Segal noted that we should work not to undermine these people.

Dr. Segal wrapped up by saying that currently, there is no international agreement on cyber security. He urged that the US should help define the issue and set international standards, which may help to change China's position on this issue.

China Goes to Sea: Maritime Transformation in Comparative Historical Perspective

On September 29, 2010, Professor Andrew Erickson gave a luncheon lecture on China's maritime development. As European naval powers decline rapidly and the U.S. Navy diminishes quantitatively, China is going to sea. This ends a great historical trend that began six centuries ago, in which China withdrew inward and European naval expansion spread Western influence worldwide. Now, for the first time in history, a robust and enduring debate pervades Beijing: is China a continental power, a maritime power, or both? To what extent will its persisting political and strategic geography and the continentalist strategic culture it helped to form constrain its development as a maritime power? The experience of land powers that have previously attempted to become sea powers has generally been negative. China is thus “sailing into a strategic headwind.” The very extent to which China should attempt such a transformation remains under discussion. Yet, China is clearly going to sea. It enjoys several advantages that its predecessors have generally lacked: a robust maritime economy, the world’s largest shipbuilding industry, settled borders with nearly all its continental neighbors, and leadership that supports maritime development as a natural phenomenon, and does not attempt to “decree” it. This lecture will assess China’s prospects for turning the corner on a genuine maritime transformation, which would be a remarkable—if not singular—event in the history of the last two millennia.


Aerospace Development: an Indicator of China's Future Trajectory - Andrew Erickson, CWP Fellow

On September 29, Professor Erickson gave an afternoon lecture on China's developments in aerospace. Beijing’s air and space components are finally on the verge of giving the country’s leaders something they have dreamed of since before the founding of the People’s Republic of China (PRC): a reliable instrument of national power. China is the first developing nation to have developed comprehensive aerospace capabilities. Even its long-lagging aviation industry is finally reaching internationally-capable levels. The commercial dynamism far exceeds anything that Cold War China or the Soviet Union could ever have produced. The metric of “full-spectrum” aerospace development offers insights into a vital subject: what type of power will China become? Comparing and explaining varying levels of aerospace technology attainment among developing great powers—primarily China, with comparative case studies involving India and Brazil—offers insights into what leads to different kinds of aerospace development, and why different great powers adopt different technological strategies to further their power. This lecture will examine both areas of strength and ongoing limitations in Chinese aerospace capabilities to yield a nuanced sense of possible futures for China as an actor in the international system.