Senator Lugar's Opening Statement for the Nomination Hearing of Gary Locke to be Ambassador to China
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I join the Chairman in welcoming Secretary Locke. The post for which he is nominated is one of the most difficult and complex in the entire Federal government. I appreciate this opportunity to express our views about the priorities of the U.S.-Chinese relationship and learn about the nominee’s vision.
China’s global leverage has increased as it has positioned itself as the leading creditor nation with more than 18 percent of the world’s current account balance surplus. According to recent data, China is the U.S. government’s largest foreign creditor, holding approximately 25 percent of the almost $4.5 trillion we owe to other countries. Greater thought must be given to how we work with China to establish a more sensible global balance that depends less on Chinese credit.
China remains an extremely important market for U.S. exports. For example, the American Soybean Association cites China as the largest export market for U.S. soybeans in 2010, with nearly $11 billion in sales to China. But the United States continues to have a severe trade deficit with China and the benefits of the Chinese market have not reached their full potential for American businesses and workers, in part because of impediments to fair competition in China.
We continue to hear complaints about inconsistent application of rules, requirements for “indigenous innovation,” non-tariff barriers to trade, inconsistent market access, and lack of enforcement of intellectual property rights. Civil society within China continues to face immense challenges in promoting the rule of law and human rights reform.
In addition to economic issues, the next Ambassador to China will also have to focus on a wide array of security problems. These include obtaining greater Chinese cooperation on issues related to North Korea, Iran, Pakistan, Burma, and other nations, as well as maintaining the security of Taiwan. The Ambassador must confront the Chinese government on stopping cyber attacks on the U.S. government, American companies, and individual Americans that originate in China.
More broadly, our government must work for a better understanding of the interaction between China’s military and civilian leaders. Earlier this year, during the visit between the Senate leadership and President Hu, his role and relationship to Chinese military leaders were among the points raised by Senators. This topic underscores the need for closer communication between the U.S. and Chinese defense establishments, which has been frequently endorsed by Secretary Gates.
The Ambassador must have a deep understanding of China’s integration strategy for its Southeast Asian neighbors. China also is dedicating massive financial resources to securing and developing natural resources in many parts of the globe including Latin America and Africa.
Another specific area of concern that has received too little attention is the incongruent reality of our public diplomacy in China. A Foreign Relations Committee minority staff report revealed that while China has more than seventy “Confucius Centers” operating in the United States, only five American Centers exist in China. The United States must press this point of equity for the establishment of American information outposts within China.
Finally, the American Ambassador and our government must give consistent attention to human rights deficiencies in China. Unfortunately, political and religious freedoms in China continue to deteriorate. This Committee needs a firm commitment from the nominee that he will work to advance the rule of law and human rights in China. He must press Chinese leaders regarding the growing campaign of censorship, arbitrary detentions, repression, and disappearances.
I look forward to today’s hearing to learn more about Secretary Locke and his strategy for approaching the Chinese in ways that will effectively enhance the economic prosperity of Americans and the national security of our country.