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Chairman Menendez’s Opening Remarks at Hearing on the Future of U.S.-China Relations

Washington, DC – U.S. Sen. Robert Menendez (D-NJ), Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, delivered the below statement, as prepared for delivery, at today’s hearing titled “The Future of U.S.-China Relations.”          

“There is no question that one of our biggest foreign policy challenges is getting the relationship between the United States and China – and the rebalance to the Asia-Pacific – right.

“Today's hearing exploring the U.S.-China relationship, and coming – as it does – just in advance of next month’s U.S.-China Strategic and Economic Dialogue, allows us to reflect on other issues – beyond the Middle East – that will also shape the 21st century.

“China is soon to become the world’s largest economy, whether measured in Purchasing Price Parity or raw GDP.

“Consider that more concrete has been poured in China in the past handful of years than in all the United States during the 20th century.

“Eight of the world’s twelve largest container ports are in China.

“China is on the move, but – the question is – on the move to what? Will China become a trade partner committed to the enforcement of international law?  Or will we see 19th century mercantilist behavior and the flouting of international norms?

“Will China help to support peace and stability in Asia? Or seek to overturn the order?

“Will China open space for its citizens to express their own views and ideas? Or will it continue – like Cuba – to brutally repress its own people? In the last year alone, a crackdown has swept away more than 150 journalists, lawyers, and activists. Bottom line: There are reasons for hope, but also reasons for pessimism.

“The fact is, U.S. exports to China have increased by almost $40 billion in the past four years alone, from $67 billion to $106 billion, creating and sustaining millions of U.S. jobs in sectors across-the-board – automobiles, power generation, machinery, aircraft and other vital industrial sectors.

“That speaks to the potential of our partnership. At the same time, U.S. firms complain of cyber-enabled theft of Intellectual Property Rights – or just plain old-fashioned theft – when trying to do business in China.

“Equally or more troubling still, we have seen an increasingly provocative China on the seas, coercing and intimidating neighbors, in both the East China Sea and South China Sea, and attempting to use the threat of military force to address territorial and regional disputes.

“China's provocative actions in the South China Sea, threaten not just regional stability but long-standing U.S. interests in the free-flow of commerce, freedom of navigation – and in the peaceful diplomatic resolution of disputes consistent with international law.

“Likewise, China's continued deliberate and provocative actions in and around Japanese territory run the risk of sparking a broader regional crisis. There should be a clear cost to China’s actions and what we must do to offset those actions is deepen our alliances with Korea, Japan, and the Philippines, and reconsider the arms embargo with Vietnam, and we must make sure we fully resource all elements of the rebalance.

“So, I look forward to our panelists’ thoughts on how should we evaluate the strategic and economic realities unfolding with the rise of China? How do we re-conceptualize the problems we face, and how do we turn them into opportunities?

“How do we make sure allies and partners have the resources they need in the context of China’s rise? And how do we work with China through such mechanisms at the SSD at the Strategic and Economic Dialogue to assure that disagreements need not lead to conflict?

“With that, let me recognize Senator Corker for his opening remarks.”


“Our first panelist is Daniel Russel, Assistant Secretary of State for East Asia and Pacific Affairs.

“Your written statement will be included in the record in its entirety – without objection – but I would ask that you please summarize it in five minutes so we can proceed to questions. 

“On our second panel we have with us J. Stapleton Roy, Distinguished Scholar and Founding Director Emeritus of the Kissinger Institute on China and the United States at the Woodrow Wilson Center for Scholars here in Washington.

“And Dr. Aaron Friedberg, Professor of Politics and International Affairs at Princeton. Always good to have New Jersey represented in our hearings.

“As always, your written statements will be included in the record in their entirety – without objection – but I would ask that you please summarize them in five minutes so we can proceed to questions.”