tv Confirmation Hearing for Ambassadors to China Japan CSPAN November 2, 2021 9:06am-9:59am EDT
c-span3. we are here to consider three important positions. on the first panel, we will hear from nick burns. i understand senator markey will introduce ambassador burns. >> thank you very much, mr. chairman, ranking member. it's my honor and pleasure to introduce our nominee today, nicholas burns, nominated to be the ambassador of the united states of the people's republic of china.
people's republic of china. after his retirement from the foreign service, ambassador burns turned his attention to training the next generation of diplomats. in short, there's no more qualified person than ambassador burns to serve in beijing as our top diplomat. the men and women of foreign service will have no greater champion. he has the experience, knowledge and leadership skills for this post in a difficult and crucial time in our relationship with
the people's republic of china. in a commencement speech at boston college in 2002, he summed it up. commemorate speec alma mater boston college in 2002, ambassador burns concluded in summing up a school's ethos. it is the core belief that how we lead our lives should not be just about and for ourselves but about what we all can do. in the poet tenseson's words to seek a new world here on earth. ambassador burns once again seek that newer world here onnette. i yield back and urge the support of every committee member for this great
ambassador. >> we look forward to you joining us on the regular dias when you are finished. as a career foreign service officer we are grateful to you and your family for your willingness to serve our country again. as you know if confirmed you would have a monumental task before you. the china of 2021 is not the china of 1971 or even the china of 2011. china today is challenging the united states and destabilizing the international community across every dimension of power. political, diplomatic, economic military and cultural. i truly believe that china today led by the communist party and from pedal by xi jinping's hypernationalism is unlike any
challenge we've faced as a nation before. from its predatory economic behavior and aggressive efforts to coerce neighbors in the maritime domain. ive to the crushing and religious autonomy of tibet and campaign of genocide against the uyghur people and digital authoritarianism. china today is more emboldened thavren before. there should be little doubt that the right framework for thinking about our relationship with china today is strategic competition. not because that is you will need to be clear-eyed about beijing's actions and play a key role in calibrating this administration's emerging policy and strategy regarding china. this committee has engaged extensively on china over the last several months, including
passing the strategic competition act with overwhelming bipartisan support. how you think we need to frame our strategy for success in this new era of strategic competition. i look forward to hearing your testimony. let me turn to the ranking member for his opening comments. >> thank you, mr. chairman. like most members or many members of the committee have known nick for a long time. we first met in the early part of the last decade in luchl -- luxembourg when he was the ambassador to nato. think it iss
appointed to this position which demands a bipartisan approach. and he's certainly taking a bipartisan approach to the challenges that china faces or that china has presented to us and that we will face over the rest of the century, the position is one of the most important we will consider. the people's republic of china is leveraging its political, diplomatic, economic, military, technological and ideological power to wage strategic competition against the united states. policies and actions threaten u.s. interests and values as well as allies and partners on just about every continent, but particularly in the indo-pacific. we must act urgently. advancing interests must be our number one foreign policy
priority. if confirmed, you will be on the front lines of this competition. there are few priorities that form the foundation of the bipartisan strategic competition act led by senator menendez and myself which passed through this committee earlier this year. first, china's military might is shifting the balance of power. we need to counter china's conventional and nuclear buildup that threatens our interests and our allies'. nowhere is china flexing this military might as much as it is in the taiwan strait. taiwan's president is right. quote, if taiwan were to fall, the consequences would be catastrophic for regional peace and democratic alliance systems. it is imperative we work to deter prc's coercion and aggression towards taiwan. another issue that's not discussed as often but must be
is china's pursuit of live sciences research with potential for weaponization causing concern about potential violations of the biological weapons convention. i introduced legislation, the biological weapons policy act, that would give our team in china a larger role in ensuring the cooperation with china does not put us or the world at risk. second, our diplomatic mission in china must be strengthened to address the economic and political facets of the competition. that includes providing information to decision makers in washington on how the ccp seeks to exist undue political influence in our open society. on the economic front, we must ensure our economic mission in china is up to the task of dealing with new challenges. china's rolling out laws and regulations to punish companies for complying with u.s. law, including our sanctions law. the chinese government is stamping out all free market activity by asserting control
over its financial institutions and its technology companies. another challenge is addressing pressing supply chain vulnerabilities, especially in technology and health care. of course, advancing human rights must continue to be a central priority in our china policy. you face a tough environment. china said it won't work with us on anything until the united states gives in to the demands of its two lists. you and i discussed those yesterday. some day i hope to see those lists. how the biden administration plans to deal with that is not clear. in our diplomatic engagement, china has shown a lack of interest in good faith discussions. yet, the administration continues to assert that china can be a partner on issues, notably climate. on taiwan, applaud recent defense sales. we have seen a lot of unclear
messaging. despite china's massive buildup, the administration is considering -- considering a nuclear declaratory policy that would put u.s. allies at immense risk and shake confidence in u.s. deterrence commitments. i know our allies communicated objections to the administration on this topic. the administration is refusing to share those with congress. this issue is more important given china's test this past weekend of a fractional bombardment system carrying a hypersonic vehicle. it would allow it to circumvent early warning and increase the u.s. to a nuclear attack. i look forward to hearing how you plan to address these challenges and to help us win this competition. i yield back. >> thank you. with that, we ask you to
summarize your statement in about five minutes or so. we will include your full statement for the record. with that, the floor is yours. >> mr. chairman, thank you very much. ranking member, members of the committee, thanks for the opportunity to be with you this morning. i'm very grateful to president biden for this nomination to be the next united states ambassador to the people's republic of china. i hold profound thanks to my wife of 40 years who is with me today seated behind me. together, we have served the u.s. government overseas. both of us are grateful to our three daughters, our son-in-law and our grandchildren. if confirmed by the senate, i look forward to returning to public service and a state department where i spent the bulk of my professional career. i worked for administrations of both parties. i would be honored to lead our team at the u.s. mission in china.
that team is on the front lines of this complicated and consequential relationship that we have with china. i would like to explain our policy and the policy that i would like to support, if confirmed by the senate. secretary tony blinken said in march the united states relationship with the prc is the biggest geopolitical test of the 21st century. we will compete and compete vigorously with the people's republic where we should, including on jobs in the economy, on critical infrastructure, on emerging technology. as president biden said, when the united states competes on a level playing field, there is no country on earth that can match us. we will cooperate with the prc where it is in our interest, including on climate change, counter narcotics, global health and on non-proliferation. the world cannot solve the
climate crisis without the prc doing more to reduce emissions. it's to our benefit to maintain engagement between our people, including students, scholars, diplomats and journalists so long as america's laws are respected. finally and crucially, we will challenge beijing where we must. including when it takes actions that run counter to american values and american interests. actions that might threaten the security of the united states or allies or partners or under underline the international order. the prc seeks to become the most powerful country in the indo-pacific. we have to stand with our allies and our friends to uphold a free and open indo-pacific, including by maintaining america's commercial and military superiority in 21st century technologies.
beijing has been an aggressor against india, along the long border, against vietnam, the philippines and others in the south china sea, against japan in the east china sea and beijing has launched an intimidation campaign against australia and even more recently lithuania. the prc's genocide, its abuses in tibet, smothering of hong kong's autonomy and freedoms and its bullying of taiwan are unjust and must stop.
the biden administration is right to seek effective channels of communication with beijing to manage this competition responsibly, to diminish the risk of an accidental conflict and above all to maintain the peace. the united states has to proceed from a position of strength and pursue intense diplomacy in all these matters.
i believe we can prove them wrong. this will require close alignment in washington between congress and the executive branch. the bipartisan senate passage of the innovation and competition act earlier this year is a very wise investment in america's future and our ability to compete. it's a country of extraordinary strength. it also has substantial weaknesses and challenges demographically, economically, politically. we should have confidence in our strength, american strength, confidence in our business community, in our innovation community, in our universities, our ability to attract the best students from around the world. confidence in our unmatched
military and our first rate foreign service and civil service. confidence in our values that stand in brilliant opposition to china's authoritarian regime. we will succeed if we build this american strength around our diplomacy with the people's republic of china. on that basis, if confirmed, i'm looking forward to working with you, the ranking member and represen republicans and democrats on this committee. i hope together we can form an effective and strong policy towards china. thank you very much. >> thank you, ambassador. we will start a round of five minutes. before i start mine, let me ask some questions we ask for the committee as a whole. these are questions that speak to the importance this committee places on responsiveness and we expect and will seek from you. i ask you to provide a simple
yes or no answer to these questions. do you agree to appear before this committee and make officials from your office available to the committee and designated staff when invited? >> yes. >> do you commit to keep the committee fully informed about activities under your purview? >> yes. >> do you commit to promptly responding to requests for briefings and information requested by the committee and its designated staff? >> yes. >> thank you. let me start off, first of all, i think your statement encompasses many of the concerns and questions that members of the committee have. it was very encompassing of many much issues i think we care about. together, we have to work to make sure that xi is wrong, that the east will continue to shine. many experts emphasize the importance of u.s. collaboration
and joint action with allies, partners and multilateral organizations to address the challenges that china poses. collaboration can be harder in practice than theory. particularly when countries have different views and competing interests. in what specific areas can you speak to that collaboration has been helpful in addressing challenges that china poses? in what areas and what countries do you see opportunities or constraints? >> mr. chairman, thank you. this is the right question to ask about how we form a strategy that can be successful against the chinese government. the comparative advantage that we have versus china is that we have treaty allies. we have partners who deeply believe in us and the chinese do not. in the indo-pacific, president biden has tried to emphasize the need for us to be very closely aligned with japan, with south korea, with australia, our
defense partners the philippines and thailand. as you know and every administration since president clinton has been working on this, we have a newfound security partner in india. that makes a great difference to have indian and american interests aligned. president biden, of course, has taken the quad idea. i give credit to president trump and secretary pompeo for reinvigorating the quad in 2019 and '20. president biden has held two head of government meetings at the quad, one virtual and one in person at the white house. president biden's initiative to deepen our engagement with our great ally australia and our ally the united kingdom could be transformational. i think it has been widely praised to be such in the indo-pacific. as we confront china whether on military balance of power, whether it's the fight that we have to convince china, push china to play by the rules on
trade, we have a coincidence of use with japan, the european union, the european allies on all these issues. i think the president has focused on the indo-pacific, but also the european allies. i have seen a change in the last two or three years in the attitudes of most european governments. now much more skeptical about china on 5g, on china's nefarious belt and road initiative in eastern europe. so i think this is a big part of the strategy we need to continue to work on. >> let me turn to taiwan. given increasing aggression and threatening rhetoric from beijing, some have called for an end to the policy of strategic ambiguity with regard to taiwan. how do you think the united states can most effectively signal our resolve and deter chinese aggression towards taiwan? >> thank you, mr. chairman. this is a central question these
days, particularly after all the bullying and intimidation tick ticks the chinese use towards taiwan, the 150 chinese aircraft into the air identification zone of taiwan just ten days ago. my own view, fortunately this is backed up i think by both the biden administration and every other administration going back four decades, is that we have enormous latitude. congress and the executive branch, under the taiwan relations act, to deepen our assistance to taiwan. the taiwan relations act written in january 1979 is modern for the strategic questions we are facing in 2021. it says that we have an unofficial relation celebrity page with taiwan, obviously. but we have a responsibility to help taiwan achieve a self-defense capability through the provision of defense articles and services. since 2009, the obama and trump and biden administrations have provided about $30 billion worth
of assistance to taiwan. given what china has done, china's objectionable statements towards taiwan, i think the congress and the executive branch have ever right to continue to deepen our security cooperation, to expand our arms provisions to taiwan. that's the most important thing we can do. in addition to that, the taiwan relations act also calls for the united states to provide the strongest possible deterrent in the western pacific, the language of 1979, or the indian ocean as we would refer to it today. in addition to that, as a third measure, we ought to be asking and we are asking our allies to show a real commitment to taiwan. we are seeing that from japan and other allies. finally, mr. chairman, we have got to be very clear about our criticism of china. what the chinese are trying to do to this very successful
society on taiwan, with this very healthy democracy, extraordinary performance in the coronavirus, simply intimidate them. so we have to speak up and shine a light on those chinese actions and chinese rhetoric. that's essentially the policy of the last 40 years. i think that policy is the right one and the smart one for today. >> thank you. >> thank you, mr. chairman. let's pick up with taiwan where you left off. how do you differentiate what happened in hong kong with taiwan? reading and listening to the chinese, it seems taiwan is more of an irritant to them than hong kong was. fortunately, taiwan's got the sea between themselves and china. but i really fear that we're
going to see the same kind of pushing the envelope in taiwan that gets it to a point where there's a crisis. what are your views on that? >> senator, you are right to ask that question. i share your concern. as senator markey mentioned, i was state department spokesperson. i accompanied secretary albright in 1997 to the handover from the uk to the prc on hong kong. all of us remember -- i particularly remember from our meeting with the chinese leadership that day the commitments they made to the people of hong kong and to the rest of us around the world and the chinese have gone back on every one of those commitments. if we link that to taiwan, we obviously cannot trust china to meet the commitments it has made on the taiwan issue. when congress passed the taiwan relations act, when administration after administration pursued a one china policy, we did so on the
presumption that there would be peace in the relationship between taiwan and china. there isn't much peace today. there's assertiveness and aggression. i don't think -- we cannot trust the chinese on this issue. we have to be aware of their rhetoric, aware of it and the rhetoric of its leader and many other chinese leaders in recent months has been that they intend to take back taiwan. our responsibility is to make taiwan a tough nut to crack. help it increase its asymmetric defenses through the taiwan relations act. other countries can do that as well. it's a central issue in the relationship now. >> i agree with that. the thing that i guess i'm concerned about as much as anything is watching what they have been doing with the incursions into the airspace reminds me of hong kong. it's pushing the envelope. it gets worse and worse until it
collapses. that's going to be something i think we're going to have to watch very closely. let's talk about china's nuclear buildup. you agree that they are pursuing a massive nuclear buildup in china? >> it certainly appears so, in the western part of china, where the reports of the icbm expansion and also with this novel delivery system that has been publicized of late. >> one thing that is very concerning to me and i think other members of this committee is that there's this discussion within the administration of a sole purpose nuclear territory policy. which is in essence, no first use -- it's another way of saying no first use, but it's not as direct. it's the exact same thing. i would hope would you become a spokesman within the
administration about how damaging that kind of a declaration would be, the sole purpose declaration. i'm not sure if you are aware of this or not. i can guarantee you that the allies, particularly the ones counting on us in the indo-pacific region, are very concerned about the declaration and sole purpose declaratory policy. what are your thoughts on that in. >> i appreciated our conversation about this. as i explained, i'm a private citizen appearing before you as a nominee without access to the intelligence. i don't have security clearance. i'm reluctant to speak about the nuclear posture review underway. i know president biden has indicated clearly that he is going to support the strongest possible and safest american nuclear deterrent, as every president has done since president harry truman. that's obviously an obligation
to the american people. i would also just add, senator, we also talked about this last week, i think the spotlight should be on china. they have said for decades, the chinese government, that they want to have a minimum nuclear deterrent. they are blasting past that definition. they are rapidly engaged in the buildup of their nuclear arsenal, including the disturbing reports of hypersonic technology. i think the spotlight has to be on the government of china. >> i agree with that. there's a deep knowledge of our allies and ones we have a defensive posture with, i would hope you would be a spokesman within the administration regarding this. i'm very concerned about it. a lot of people are concerned about it.
i understand that you have done an excellent job throughout your career of carrying water on both shoulders for an administration from either party. i think that brings a tremendous amount of credibility to you. i think your words in that regard would be very important as they proceed with the nuclear posture review. i have no doubt they will be consulting with you given the position you are in. i would urge that you communicate in the strongest terms to the administration the concern that our allies in the region have. >> thank you. >> thank you, mr. chairman. let me thank you for your incredible career of public service. you have really advanced american values globally in every post you have held. i personally appreciated your advice during very difficult times. thank you very much for your
service to our country and your willingness to continue in this critical role as our ambassador in china. there are so many issues that we need to talk about. we have mentioned a lot of our national security concerns. we know that china is belligerent. we know they are trying to change the rules of engagement so they determine the rules based on a government controlled economy rather than open economy, which is against their national security interests. we know how belligerent they are against taiwan. the list goes on and on and on. i want to devote my time to what president biden has said, that we are strongest when we conduct our foreign policy based upon our values.
china, in the most recent decade, has been moving in the wrong direction on universal human right values. we could go through the entire list. it's a long list. >> thank you for your decades of service to those issues. i'm very well aware of that. i think you are right to suggest that as we think about our tools, our strengths, as we compete with china, it's our belief in human rights and the
rule of law and press freedoms that really stands in opposition to an authoritarian dictatorship in beijing. if we can marshal those strengths -- president biden and his administration believe this is at the center of the foreign policy. we can't just do that sometimes. we cannot be silent if there are atrocities occurring or a genocide is occurring. we have to speak out. you have seen the president, secretary blinken and all of the officials been very forthright about that since january 20th of this year. i think that will continue. that will certainly be -- if i am concerned -- a hallmark of what i try to do speaking directionally to the chinese government in beijing. >> i would ask also that you inform this committee as to how
we can give you a stronger hand in dealing on these issues. we have passed sanction regime laws that have been used against those in china. i think they have their affect. i think they are extremely important. we need to also think beyond that as to what we can do to give you what you need, the competitive that the chairman mentioned is an important part of our strategy against -- in standing up to china's oppression on the economic front. we should also be looking at what we can do as a congress to give you a stronger hand in china and dealing with these universal rights. i would welcome your advice as to what we can do to give you a stronger toolbox in dealing with
these issues. >> i have spoken to the chairman and others about them. when the coronavirus ends and when the restrictions on china -- there's a three week quarantine in china for visitors -- i hope members of congress from both parties will travel to china. if i'm confirmed, i would like to help you to do that. they need to hear from our legislative branch on these issues. these will be difficult conversations for you and for me with the chinese leadership. but we have to have them. secondly, i would encourage you respectfully to continue what you are doing, what this committee has done under the chairman's leadership to legislation and sanction when necessary. finally, president biden was right when he coalesced with
canada, the european union and the united kingdom in multinational sanctions against specific chinese individuals responsible for carrying out the atrocities. that can be helpful as well to expand the universe of -- expand our voice to work with other nations. >> i agree, if we act intelligently, the u.s. in concert with our allies in the west, we can compete with china. china has advantages in terms of very long-term, very strategic thinking, authoritarian. they don't have the back and
forth of elections, that type of thing. they have utilize that long-term strategic thinking while the west has not done much to counter their infiltration of institutions, stealing of our intellectual property. i would like you to comment on how do we counter what they have done and how do we do that effectively? >> senator, thank you. i think it's a central question. we have to have a strategy to match china's strategy. i think that is beginning to development over the last several years, the last three administrations, president obama, trump and biden. as i said in my testimony, what distinguishes us and strengthens us is the fact we have our alliance with japan and with australia and south korea. i have been involved in my past diplomatic career in discussions with the europeans.
i think they are less united in the european union right now. but i sense that the europeans are shifting to understand the threat. the threat to them as well as to us and our indo-pacific allies. operating on an allied basis is the most important thing we can do. sometimes we form institutions. the quad is an institution that both parties can be proud of. republican and democratic presidents have supported the quad. now president biden is operationalizing it at the head of government level, which we haven't done before.countries c. we need to take this policy we are discussing this morning into the 2030s. the competition with china will be multi-decade. >> i want to address specifically the infitration into the university systems,
their investment in medical journals. it concerns me. there is so much we don't know, for example, about the coronavirus. so much we don't know about covid. i really do -- i want to get your take on a real potential fault line when we start learning more. for example, the origin theory. i don't know whether it was lab leak or natural origin. there was a coverup and gave china a head start of burying evidence. you participated in an event. you were critical of china saying that this was an army exercise. you were critical of president trump for calling the chinese virus or wuhan virus. you said, we know that's wrong, that's racist.
we know that's not true. i'm wondering, how did you know? we still don't know. how were you so positive that this wasn't a lab leak theory? have you changed your mind? have you seen other evidence that would open up your mind to that prospect? if it is determined that it was not of natural origin, it did leak from a lab in wuhan, that will have serious repercussions with our relationship with china. >> thank you, senator. i want to agree with you briefly on the issue of students and exchanges. we ought to welcome chinese students into the united states. student visas are not a right. they have to be earned. our laws have to be observed. there are chinese student applicants who have tied to the
the table. we all know that's not true. change your thinking on that. important if you are going to be ambassador to china that you have more opened on this than you exhibited back in march of 2020. >> senator i spoke often of this issue of u.s. china relations at that period of time. and i believe that quote from the kennedy school event was directed to president trump's use of the term "wuhan virus" which i did not think would be effective with the chinese government or chinese people or people around the world. it had nothing do with the origins of the crisis of the pandemic. my position has been and continues to stay we need to investigate. we don't know where the virus originated for sure. there are multiple theories and the chinese need to answer the questions. so i have never been a proponent of either one of these two options. but i think as president biden
has said, we need to push the chinese toe come clean about what happened. >> thank you. >> ambassador burns, thank you for your willingness to continue to serve the united states. as i'm sure you are aware there have been reported cases o of -- have you been briefed on the reports cases in china? >> senator, i -- i do not have a security clearance. so i've not been briefed in detail about what has happened to our mission personnel there. but i've had unclassified open conversations with the state department. and what i would say to you is my own view just as a private citizen is that this is real. it is happening to our diplomats and other government personnel all around the world. and if confirmed, my obligation to you and more particularly to the men and women of our mission in china is do everything under my power to protect them,
working with the secretary of state and all of our other officials. >> well thank you very much. i appreciate that. i hope you will also request from the state department -- that also includes how to encourage personnel to respond if they are affected and what to look for in terms of those attacks. because to date there doesn't seem to be a consistent response and direction for personnel. >> thank you. >> you mentioned in your opening remarks and in the questioning about the increased chinese influence in eastern europe. and also lithuania, which is one example of an eastern european country has taken a hard stance on china. became the first -- in the country. can you talk about what you
think the impact of lithuania's stance is? will it have impact on other eastern european countries and encourage them to take a hard look at what china is doing? >> thank you. lithuania has chosen its course and every country has a right to define its relationship with taiwan. and i'm proud that the biden administration has stood up for lithuania. and it is extraordinary. the chinese government has launched an intensive intimidation campaign, economic intimidation of lithuania and lithuanians have stood their ground and deserve our support. same as australia. we have our own policy. the one china policy which we should adhere to. our unofficial relationship with taiwan which has served us well. every other country should have a right to determine what they want to do and shouldn't be bludgeoned and bullied by the
chinese leadership. >> thank you vsm. i couldn't agree more with that and i think lithuania deserves a lot of credit for a small country willing to stand up in the way they have. insisted nato must engage politically china be thank you alliance doesn't seem to see china as much of a threat as they do russia. does china view nato in the same way? and what do you think nato's strategy should be towards china? >> thank you, senator, its been really interesting for me as a former ambassador to nato to see how high on the agenda china has become over the last couple of years during president trump's time and now president biden's time. and the focus is right. certainly russia is the immediate focus of the north atlantic treaty organization. and especially considering latvia, lithuania, estonia and poland right on the front lines as we try to contain russian power. but i think the nato countries
led by a great secretary general generalize stulten berg also understand. the chinese are actively trying to separate countries in eastern europe and the european union from nato. and if you think about chinese military activities and think about the interests of germany, 06 france, italy, any of the nato countries. they have got to be concerned about what's happening in xinjiang province, hong kong, the threats against taiwan and the economic practices of china. my last point would be if we can coalesce with the european union, the united states and japan son some of the the economic issues we're well more than 60% of gdp. it is real leverage. so europe has to be part of this
strategy. and i credit 1. she pushed this issue and she was right to do that. >> and do you think china has become concerned anlt nato's increasing interest in what china is doing in europe? or are they ignoring that. >> i don't think they are ignoring it, senator. the reason i use the term china is not an olympian power in my statement. and i meant it specifically. they have enormous strength. they have very few friends. they have no real allies. and think of a strategic advantage we have. with our 29 allies in canada, the europeans and nato and our multiple treaty allies in the indo pacific. it is our comparesive advantage to reach out to the allies both in nato and the indo pacific to say we need to be working
together strategically on china. >> thank you mr. chairman. >> let me just quickly echo senator shaheen's comments answer lithuania. lithuania and how we respond to help is a test for the west. because when a country stands up against china and then faces the enormous economic consequences that china is creating against elizabeth lithuanian --. >> appreciate your willingness to serve once again your country at a critical time. we all know china's ambition. they described what it is. they seek to replacement us as the
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