tv Atlantic Council Discussion on Chinas Role in the Middle East CSPAN June 18, 2019 6:00pm-7:29pm EDT
tonight, president donald trump holds a rally in orlando florida, officially launching his run for a second term, watch live at 8 p.m. eastern on cspan-2 the online@c- span.org or listen live on the free c-span radio app. next, a discussion about the role china plays in the middle east as well as the potential for the operation between the u.s. and china. president trumps policy in the middle east and the relationship between israel, iran and china. at this event hosted by the atlantic council. hello everyone and thank you very much for taking the time to come here to the atlantic council today. were very happy to host this informative discussion. we have a very critical timely question, and even a more important question as the
decades are to come. china's role in the middle east. thank you to the folks from c- span who are watching and the folks streaming this live over the atlantic council website. for those who don't know me my name is william wexler and i lead the atlantic count will work on the middle east and the direct of the center for the middle east which is your host for this afternoon. this is a question that would not have been asked a decade ago. china does not have historical ties in the region that china has economic connections that are modest not that long ago but, now, is a question that many people in the region are asking more and more and many people in the u.s. diplomatic intelligence and military
apparatus are asking more and more. and many people in china are asking more and more about how they are broached this region as part of their initiative and wider diplomatic initiatives and part of their need for energy resources. >> what we see right now is the economic relationship between china and the middle east, quite deep and deepening. the political diplomatic relationship has grown from as we will hear, from relatively modest, quite powerfully over the last decade or so with the number of agreements and relationship that even the military presence of china which is embryonic at this stage , based in djibouti is likely
to grow over time and the strategic role in the region is something we have to take into consideration now this is the news we saw from cnn yesterday about the allegation that his intelligence that china help saudi arabia build up its missile technology in a way that is contrary to long- standing u.s. policy in the region. these open up a lot more questions for us. one question i think that's very much open is, as we look ahead for the next couple decades, how will the u.s. china relationship in the middle east be defined? i think it's fair to say that in many other parts of the world the northeast and southeast asia, the united states and china are going to be in an era of great power, competition,
hopefully not confrontation but that will basically define the relationship. the story hasn't been written yet on the middle east, there are number of cases where the u.s. and china's interests align and there are a number of places where the u.s. and china's interest do not, which would be the dominant story? we don't know yet. to help answer these questions and look ahead we have a very important and useful set of commentary we will hear led by our keynote speaker the deputy assistant to the president and senior director for the middle east and the national security council. she was in the past the national security advisor to senator ted cruz and to governor rick perry as well. she has a phd from the university of pennsylvania and a masters degree from williams college in undergraduate degree from trinity college and will
start off the discussion today with the talk describing the trump administration's views on this. we will come up for a panel discussion led by a brief conversation by dr. jonathan fulton, and a political science professor and is author of the street or on china's changing role in the middle east that is available on our website right now, the link is live so i hope everyone takes the time to read this, he's also the author of the book china's relations with the gulf monarchies and co- editor of the school published in 2018 with a phd in international relations from the university of leicester and two masters degrees from staffordshire university and the university of southern queensland and a phd from dell housing university. he's also taught in south korea
as well. and finally, we are joined by a doctor from china who will give us the chinese perspective on these and is right now a visiting scholar at harvard university and deputy director of the middle east studies institute of shanghai international studies and the editor and chief of the asian journal of middle eastern and islamic studies and taught at oxford, at denver at hong kong university. his latest articles for example are china's response to revolts in the arab world and china's economic diplomacy and is coeditor of china in the middle east in the 21st century. with that, let me ask everyone for a nice round of applause as we woke them dr. coates to the podium. [ applause ] >> thank you everyone for attending this very important event today.
i am quite struck by the fact that we are here at the atlantic council on the 75th anniversary of d-day. all those years ago my grandfather was preparing to participate in this momentous event so to be here with atlantic council friends is really terrific. i would like to lay out what we publicly declared as the united states policy with china and i'm pleased to have a chinese colleague here so we can discuss this. then, look at how it affects her activities in the middle east. we basically have three main buckets, one is israel, one is the gcc plus two, egypt and jordan and then the iran policy and all these things we see as interrelated.
and i wanted to read a little from the national security strategy from december 2017 because i think it holds true today and really is the basis of these three policies we will discuss. for decades, u.s. policy was rooted in the belief that support for china's rise and for its integration into the postwar international order would liberalize china. contrary to our hopes, china expanded its power at the ask ends of the sovereignty of others in china gathers an explicit data on an unrivaled scale spreads features of its authoritarian system including the use of surveillance. it's building them is capable and well-funded military after our own, it's new your arsenal is growing and diversifying and part of china's military modernization and economic expansion is due to its axis to the u.s. innovation economy including america's low class universities such as harvard. so, that is sort of the basis of how we are looking at the
relationship now, it's important to say that trump in no way sees this as a confrontation. he very much values his relationships with the chinese counterparts and we are hopeful that we will be able to come to a negotiated agreement that will allow the relationship to emerge in the 21st century is a strong and powerful one. so, how does this affect how we approach the middle east? first and foremost, i wanted to start looking at our relationship with israel one of the most interesting things about israel has been its increased stature on the international diplomatic stage, something that will be front and center later on this month when the national security advisors of the united states, russia and israel together for a meeting in jerusalem. this is something that i think could not of happened 10 years ago.
it is unique and certainly shows you the growing significance of israel. i think that is in no small part due to the policies that president trump has been engaged in for the past 2 1/2 years. it has been a very specific policy to leverage the historic investment the united states is made in israel and something that gives us great hope that the memorandum of understanding that went into effect last tober was actually negotiated by the previous administration. so, this is a bipartisan effort to commit to israel over a ten- year period. some $3.8 billion per year, congress pumps set up to for so were dealing in round numbers. that is basically $40 billion over 10 years. it's an enormous investment on the part of the united states and something we feel extremely
good about. the u.s. news & world report index of powerful nations put israel at number eight this year in march and certainly they're doing a number of things right and develop a high- tech sector. this is something the united states has partnered closely with them on. so, one of the concerns how china interfaces with the israeli tech sector. we know the chinese investment has grown by 10 times in 2016 alone and we know there at venture capital funding has increased by 20% over the last year. so, that shows that china is attracted to many of the same things in israel that we are and our goal is to make sure that the investment israel is
just or snidely depend on foreign investment and it continues to develop in a responsible way that's mindful of israel's national security interest. so, when we discussed the topic with the israelis, we are certainly not saying no to china, we are saying we develop certain tools that review foreign investment not china's alone and that we have found effective means to detect national security interests while developing our economy. one think i read dr. fulton's paper with great interest and i think it's extremely help full and will get to the conclusions in the moment. i take a small disagreement with the assertion that the move from the u.s. embassy from
tel aviv to jerusalem anchored the region and contributed to u.s. isolation. certainly when the president made this historic announcement in december 2017, we didn't have a crystal ball and we didn't know how it was going to turn out. the president felt strongly it was the right thing to do and it recognize the reality on the ground in israel and that he was going to make good on his promise to make a move. the predictions at that point word tire. conventional wisdom said this would undermine israel's security and force the nations to stand together against israel and ultimately undermine israel's security. that's one reason it had been difficult to do. what we found in the intervening 18 months is that the opposite is been the case.
we have unprecedentedly close ties between israel and the arab world, less than a year after the president made the announcement, the prime minister equally historic trip to moscow. i was in manama when the visit occurred as a security dialogue and as you can imagine it was a room full of arabs and we were looking up at the screams -- screens wondering what the problem will be that i will leave them nameless one of the ambassadors team up to me and said, they got there before us. so i think, as it turned out the confidence that israel has gained from the policy, the embassy move is sort of symbolic but it's a much broader partnership, not only between the president and the prime minister but between ambassador bolton and his counterpart and me and my counterpart, that we have strengthened these ties and it's given israel tremendous confidence. so, our goal on that front, on
the israeli policy is to maintain that historic closeness to make very clear the tangible benefits, both sides from this partnership and this is something we will aggressively protect. then, we have the gcc plus two i picked this bucket carefully because what i want to talk about the initiative for strategic alliance. it was first envisioned by the president in his speech on may 2017 when he challenged the assembled leaders of the arab world to develop closer diplomatic security and economic ties to strengthen the region from within. this is a huge project for us i don't necessarily disagree with the tag and again today is a good
day to be celebrating things like nato but i think it's a much more than that. it's quite anemic and this can be an enormous source of economic strength for the region. we feel strongly that the united states can continue to play a leadership role as we develop this project. we very much want to be directly involved in its development and implementation that is one of the initiatives that we are working on. one thing along the security lines that i wanted to mention, i think none of us would ever apologize for working for president who does not want another war in the middle east. i don't think anyone in this room wants another war in the middle east, that's not to say however that the president is not very much aware of the need
for a strong deterrent, and that's why he's embarked in a historic rebuilding of our military. he believes very much in the reagan doctrine of peace through strength and the best way to prevent a war is to be strong and the background has directed us to exploit to the greatest degree possible, the economic and diplomatic tools at our disposal. so, that brings us to the overarching topic today of iran to change fundamentally the regime in tehran that was hardly impulsive or not well informed. when we came into the office to an a half years ago, we were still a participant in the jc poa and we renewed twice the
congressional waivers required to remain in the jc poa, the first six months of we could study the issue and develop our policies the second six months to give friends and allies a chance to potentially revise the deal into a condition or state the president would find except. when that failed to happen he did announce last may his intention to withdraw and had a six-month wind down period followed by six months of the reverse on oil fills. this is been a long and deliberate process to get to the point where we are now. but rather like the embassy move when he did make the withdrawal announcement one year ago, the predictions were dire. the united states would be isolated are sanctions,
unilateral sanctions would not work in our friends and partners would not comply with them. the foreign direct investment on the part of china would flow directly into iran opening up an opportunity for china to expand regional power. we did not think that would be the case and i think history has borne us out that the unilateral sanctions by the united states have been the most effective we've seen and certainly the reduction in the ability of iran to export oil has been first and foremost amongst the statistics. we don't have the main numbers but the open source ones range from 250,000 to 500,000 barrels per day for the month of may, which is a historical low. we are very encouraged that a range of nations including china now see it as a bad bet it's
not a good place to do business, it's not profitable and there's much more money to be made elsewhere. we feel it is our job to keep it that way until the regime accepts the presidents sincere offers for dialogue. we need to get them to a position where they are playing a responsible role in the international age and not threatening the peace and prosperity that the region deserves. so, this is basically where we stand on the iran file. i had one other statistic i wanted to mention. that dr. fulton's excellent report mentioned that ron supplied 11% of china's energy needs between 2011 and 2016. the major changes that in 2018 china received 20% of the united states exports of petroleum and 15% of liquid natural gas.
that's an extraordinary change and it's one of the reasons that we feel confident in the policies we are pursuing that the president energy policy, led by my old boss has massively increased united states production and export. so, when we are making the decision on the waivers in may and consulting with friends and allies, it was a totally different context from the conversations we would have had 10 to 15 years ago. rather than having to be a supplicant other nations to increase production of the united states is now a partner in increasing production, enabled through our own energy industry to be part of replacing the barrels that were being taken off the market from iranian exports. so, we are very encouraged that a number of the countries that had received waivers are
complying with the sanctions, getting to zero because we are able to amply supply energy needs in a reliable way with a hike polity product. so, that is very much the kind of international pressure and engagement the president has direct, that we can harness the increased ability in the energy sphere to really promote our interests and values and amply supply the energy market. >> now, in conclusion, one of the things i very much want to concur with in dr. fulton's paper are his recommendations for how we should go forward. he very accurately describes the traditional stove piping between foreign policy experts in the geographical sense.
you are middle east persons and you don't deal with china issues and that you have these very clearly defined boundaries and you don't stray into these other buckets. we found this extremely misleading in the 21st century. the geographical boundaries and no longer hold so i don't pay attention to central asia, europe or africa or even to the western hemisphere as well as asia. i will miss all sorts of opportunities and challenges that become unpleasant surprises. so, i think one of the really wonderful features of today's event is the ability to look beyond the boundaries and bringing together china experts with middle east experts to look at how the relationship between the united states and china may develop in the middle east which i think hopefully gives us insight into how it
will develop elsewhere. thank you very much. [ applause ] >> thank you for the fascinating discussion and i appreciate the way you ended because it's been critical as we've been doing this research, that very conclusion that most american middle east experts don't know much at all about china and most american experts in china don't know much about the middle east. similarly i think the same kind of stove piping exists in china as well. this is one of the low hanging
fruits we have that we can do work early on to help take down the stovepipes and bring knowledge across the areas of expertise. to those lines let me start by asking each of the fellow panelists to give five minutes and talk, first, jonathan about the report you wrote, if you could summarize it for folks and then talk about the chinese perspective . >> great. thank you for putting together a great event and dr. coates for your valuable comments. it's good to hear from the administration what people are thinking. i lived in abu dhabi which was an interesting vantage pointe and i started working my phd in 2011 and talked to people in different organizations and you could see people shaking their
heads, you poor guy, china, the middle east, what we talk about? by the time i finished in 2017 it was clearly a hot topic and by last summer after visiting that week, which is great for me,, thank you if you're watching. we seen this intensifying it's becoming pretty interesting and we see that as china's approach in the gulf and the middle east in general, it's a very strategic multifaceted approach. it's not a haphazard approach by any stretch, not based on energy or oil, there's a lot of moving parts. we can see and we will mention the partnerships and i have some charts in the report. if we look at the strategic partnership in the middle east,
except the one in egypt, the first within 99 and then the first with ua was 2012, other than those two everything is happened in the past five or six years and are popping up all over the place. it's showing a really dense presence across the region and certain states are elevating the highest level and others are at a mid-level but it shows there's a very sophisticated approach year. it's mostly based on economic ties and it's not a surprise because if they were to go in, they have gate with security and strategic issues and this causes a lot of stress between the china/u.s. relationship or the middle east /u.s. relationship. so it's building a foundation of economic ties based on trade and a lot of investment and finance as well. we see a lot of things being bought in chinese un, lots of trade and just a much more
sophisticated financial relationship between the middle east and china. since lowly, as these things get stronger we see things like policy coordination, especially in a lot of countries in the middle east that are working on trying to diversify their economy and trying to invest in infrastructure for building new projects. this lines up nicely with china's initiative which is essentially the same thing. going overseas build forts, railways, highways, so there's a lot of convergence in wet middle east states want and what china has to offer. so we are again seeing a very sophisticated approach to the region. you can look at this across many regions it applies in central and parts of south asia as well but, for my purpose in the middle east we see this take off in a big way. to the point, there is some convergence in u.s. interest
and china interest in the middle east. it wasn't long ago i think in 2016, president obama gave an interview at the new york times where he chastised china for being a free rider in the middle east. what we see now is that china is actually building a lot of stuff. if you look in vermont for example, there's a fishing village that hasn't had many people and not much happening and the chinese have committed something like $11 billion in pipelines and refineries and residential areas. the whole kit. now, this is interesting because the u.s. has access to the government, this is a public bill and something the u.s. navy can partake in. this is not necessarily an inherently competitive set of relationships. there could be some room for the u.s. and china, assuming that tension from the
relationship can cool down a little bit. there could be areas of the middle east where this could be more cooperative rather than competitive. i'm a political scientist and i don't expect that to really happen but i think it's possible. i don't see any reason why as we recommend in the document, if there was a little more dialogue and both sides breakout of the silos and understand each other's interests and see there are opportunities, it could create a pretty positive environment to go forward on this. >> i will stop here. thank you. >> thank you so much. [ applause ] >> thank you for your questions. i'm actually now talking on behalf of our government, on our home. i can talk freely. congratulations to my friend
because dr. fulton knows china and knows also, america. i was wondering whether or not when we are conducting research about the middle east, we should have a new thinking from power-sharing to burden sharing that's the new mentality. if you look at the middle east today there were so many problems. i think the problem is not outsiders, competition or rivalry but no country will be willing to make contributions to the government. if you look at the middle east, you have the capability but russia has the willingness but not the capability. china has neither capability nor willingness. if you look at the middle east in the future,
i'm afraid there are overwhelming problems. i'm concerned about it because 50% are going to the middle east and the second is overpopulation and the middle eastern population has increased by 20%. if you look at egypt the population has sunk from 18 million to 100 million, it's huge. and the next is about our employment rate. the average is 5% and in the middle east at 9.8% the next as refugees. the statistics for 60% of the world's refugees are from the middle east. the next is about
interdependent and the economic effect. in the middle eastern countries, asia and north africa third independence is only 10% while east asia is 51% in this aspect, i will say in the future, one more problem is brain drain. the parents from west asia and north africa will fled to europe america and other places not in the middle east. so i'm very optimistic saying the u.s. has more security problems in the u.s. doesn't care about it, china doesn't have this, bring this capability. what can we do. i'm afraid, china and the u.s. as responsible powers make a contribution. china is now the second largest of 11 middle eastern countries.
china is also the second largest investor in the middle east and china has 1 million extensions. in the city only we have 200,000 chinese, it's really huge. china also has very important oil and natural gas entries. they have about 200 million pounds of oil from the middle east, representing 50% of china's imported oil from the middle east. in that case we can say china has substantial geo-economic interests while u.s. has a geopolitical interest in the area. the u.s. has 67,000 troops in 12 countries in the middle east.
about 1800 in this area and also as we mentioned, china has a logistic space in djibouti. i was wondering whether the two sites can cooperate in the future, you may be wondering is that a kind of wishful thinking? i think it's possible. first of all look at djibouti. china, france and japan as well they are coexisting quite well in the past several years for anti-piracy. as mentioned we talked to this partnership in the paper and china's partnership with u.s. allies are so popular. for example, israel.
to specific countries, jordan, morocco and egypt are all u.s. allies and are also chinese chinese. so, china's economic development for this country will be conducive to u.s. interest. so from this perspective i was wondering, can we say, there are three different ideas for peace in the middle east. we fight waller's -- wars, after 911 you lunch to warn afghanistan, iraq and olivia. you have sacrificed a lot and much economically and also troops. but so far it's not very stable. the second argument is democracy. it's possible, it will take a longer time in the middle east. the third one could be a
chinese concept of this through development. from the chinese perspective the middle east deficit is the cause of instability, terrorism, radicalization. so through strength and democracy we take a longer time for development from the grassroots level it could work in some ways. so, if you look at the middle east, i think china has provided economic assistance as a hardware. china has built hospitals roads and the u.s. has provided nothing -- a medical facilities , experts and teachers chinese software's and u.s. offers in the future can be compatible. therefore for the future development the two sites can
cooperate. i'm optimistic and i wish you would all be optimistic as well. thank you so much. [ applause ] >> now is the time we will go to questions from the audience, we have some microphones going around. let me stress a couple things at the beginning. first, when you do speak, please stand up give your name and your affiliation so everyone can know where you are from. secondly, please ask a question , not make a speech. and third, please keep it to one question, not one question breaking into six parts. just one question. be short. we would like -- i imagine we will get a lot of questions and we like to get through as many as we can in the time that we have allowed. please catch my eye, i will call them people but i will
have the moderator asked the first question, which touches on a couple of items that have been mentioned but, you know, one way of looking at it and i think this way is particularly important to the middle east is that that china also presents an alternative governance model to the united states for many of the countries in the united states, at least amongst leadership there. this alternative governance model is appealing to many of them, especially those that are not democracies that are monarchies or are other types of authoritarian governments and they feel that they can get more benefit than they can get to the united states without what they perceive as the american traditional haranguing about human rights or democracy and with an added benefit of
giving them advice and even technology and how to better control the population that china is specializing in our home. and in some respects this could be a first alternative model the united states has to deal with that is appealing. dr. coates, i want to ask you, is this something that you perceive in the region or something you are worried about in the region? >> that's an interesting question. i think you are absolutely right, they are two very different models of government. back, one of the things we have found that is powerful about what the united states represents is that most nations tend to prefer to do business with us and we tend to build alliances that is as jonathan
points out, a very difficult thing to do, but, the relationships when worked on, create very deep and enduring bonds and made us a great example of that because we do play by certain rules and we do allow our allies a certain degree of autonomy sovereignty. so, i think, we accept that these are very different models but our relationships with our golf friends and partners has never been stronger, as well as with a democratic ally like israel. i think this is a comparison we would be quite comfortable with. >> there is a really interesting chapter that a fellow at georgetown road i think last year, talking about the china model in its applicability in the middle
east. there's no doubt it's very attractive because they can look at this model of tremendous economic reform without corresponding political reform. of course, that is really great, you know, i think a lot of states in the middle east would like that but the difference being that there are not many states in the middle east that have stated resources or capacity to manage this the same that china does. you could look at a place like the emirates or states with substantial resources that could maybe take some of these, the playbook from the china model and apply it. but, then you look at other states that are more authoritarian they don't have the state capacity to pull it off very well. so, i know there is just a story i got in my email yesterday morning about how facial recognition software, two firms bidding for a contract the one from the states and one from china, my money is on china getting it because they really good at it.
you know? so that is my take. >> i think that democracy is a good thing. democracies democratic government and the development of government are compatible with each other. if you look at the gcc countries , they promote democracy and they are also promoting -- >> democracy governments are sometimes -- you must be cautious. look at algeria and palestine that they have practice democracy but sometimes democracy can be hijacked. so, democratic governments can be a good thing from top to bottom but to develop this government it's across label, it's risk aversion. i think it's more efficient in the short term because in the
long run, we still need reform from top to bottom. therefore, my conclusion is that they are compatible. thank you. >> question in the back and the red shirt. wait for the microphone please. >> thank you my question is for you, dr. coates. yesterday the president said there is a chance of military action and my question is, what is in line that could lead to this action and one more question, when you said and it's a huge project for us, as you know the egyptians are out now and is this idea still viable in egypt? >> sure i think it's important
to take it into the full context of what the president said is that he very much does not want to war in the middle east. it's a unified position across the administration and he's been clear on that, not only for the course of the administration but in the years before he became president, that he did not want to have military confrontation in the middle east. now, that said, what he also discusses the historic rebuilding of the united states military in which he sees as a deterrent factor, something that would prevent iran from engaging in an activity that would force a u.s. response and that's what we want to avoid and in a way i would do for your question to to ran and whether or not they would like to engage in dialogue which is what we are offering in this diplomat, to resolve
differences or whether they engage in the ongoing forty- year campaign of violence and aggression. so, for me that is really a choice for them. in terms of nasi, it's a very large project but we think it's vitally important for some of the reasons my colleagues have mentioned. we think this can enormously increase the prosperity and security of the region. we welcome further engagement from egypt and we will continue to keep the government of egypt apprised of our project and progress and it would very much be our hope that they would see mesa as an avenue for greater prosperity for egypt and greater integration regionally. so we will remain optimistic on that. >> okay. one question..
i'm also a resident of the atlantic council. there was some reference made by all of you of rushing the region, to what extent are russia and china partners in the middle east and to what extent are they competitors? can you get us a sense, i think to some extent they are both but can you give us a sense of how much they are of each in which is more -- which trend is growing. i would be grateful. thank you . >> i will try to answer this very complex question about china and russian ties in the middle east. if you look at syria you can find. i think russia waited nine times but china waited six times. however, china is not russia and china wants to show it is different from russia.
for example, china is not militantly involved in the middle east, they've dispatched zero troops to the middle east but russia has an influence in syria. russia also has some interest in libya. what china wants is stability for its own initiative. so, its economic. for russia its geopolitical. the presence in syria and others. they have commonalities in crisis management but are different. thank you . >> any other comments? >> i'm with the atlantic council and i wanted to follow up on what will said because it's a critical issue. at my college graduation,
president lyndon johnson said he wasn't going to send american boys to die for asian boys. it didn't quite turn out that way so be very, very careful. in the question it seems that china offers a more attractive governance and ease of doing business model. we have foreign corrupt practices act for americans and you have to deal with congress and and the poor guy from egypt and the poor guy from libya didn't turn out so well, can you trust the americans. china is taking the long view the and it doesn't have an ideological position and is not choosing side. it's basically there for economic reasons.
united states has to actively confront and engage in. i think that our great strengths are the ones we are trying to leverage which is very significant economic power. may i go back to the energy piece. we are poised to become an energy exporter. china is an importer and that is a strength for us. it is an area where we can really leverage that in our favor. i also think that we can play a more attractive leadership role with that precise initiative where if you can encourage the region to increase its own resilience and prosperity internally, then that would be more attractive to sovereign nations as a model. so, this is not a competition that we in any way feel disadvantaged in. we think both countries have their strengths. as i said before we are pretty confident in the product that
we have and our ability to work closely with our partners in rk the region. >> let's go to the back. a in the blue striped shirt. >> thank you, jack warner climate institute. this isn't a climate change question though. there was a brief reference to the eu and i was wondering is china really moving forward in terms of involving the eu in terms of its work in the middle east and is the eu going to become a significant partner or presence in the middle east? >> i can't really speak to your initiatives with any kind of depth.
in terms of your question with the eu and the middle east, or the eu and china? >> the eu is working with china and the middle east already. >> right. >> are they going to get more engaged in the middle east under chinese initiatives? >> if my colleague were here the europe middle east specialties, he would help. >> we work very closely with the eu on a range of issues. we have appreciated their cooperation on syria for example. i think we would just anticipate the cooperation continuing. >> hello, abraham intern at the hudson. i'm going to pick just one
question. this is for doctor sun. you talked about the hardware software possibility of cooperation. and one maybe counter argument would be hardware is hard. once that is in place that is just going to stay there. software, particularly i'm thinking of people on the ground in the middle east coming from either china or the u.s., that is much more malleable. and maybe the u.s. would have this concern. if we do hardware and software cooperation, how would you respond to that? >> that is a good question. actually if you look at china and u.s. cooperation in africa , we do have this kind of cooperation because they are accepted on the chinese side and u.s. diplomats. if you look at the peace building in the postwar
conflict in africa, china has a lot of infrastructure including roads and schools. the u.s. has also humanitarian assistance in the forms of nurses and facilities etc. it is a very new concept about hardware and software. in a professional level sometimes it has a problem. this is a donation from chinese government. if you deducted nothing, you cannot have one man say we are from america. they say you have more visibility and presence. we have offered a lot that we cannot have presence to the look of people. that could be a source of conflict. but if we have this kind of complementary mentality for power-sharing, it is visible in the traditional level.
>>'s are in the white shirt. >> freeman, weapons r&d engineer. i have a question for doctor sun. i hope that you have realized that any western oriental logic about the middle east should be thrown out the window given all the events and developments that took place over the year. your premise of peace through investment is highly dubious because we have seen many wars in the middle east in which billions of dollars have been destroyed for a lot of irrational reasons. despite the fact that the people need the infrastructure, need the development and the destruction went counter to the development and investment. so why should we believe that your premise will hold in the
first place? an example, the israeli confrontation caused lebanon over $6 billion in infrastructure. so is it really peace through investment, or is it a trojan horse of economics to gain a strategic foothold on the part of china and the middle east? >> a very good question about the concept of peace through development. i think there is no remedy for all the problems. even i myself will say can we have peace through development only? i feel doubtful about it. the middle east issues cannot be solved by only one way. peace through development is a traditional chinese medicine style. peace through false strength
and democracy could be a threat. trump says the u.s. has wasted too much in the middle east. but peace is still far away. a democracy could be possible but it will take a longer time. but what other solutions? that is why china put forward a concept of peace through development. i was wondering whether development is sustainable. it could be effective in one or two years. but can you solve the problems of the middle eastern fragile space, i am afraid it is very hard. peace through development is based on chinese reform and opening up. because china has ideology with the former soviet union for 20 years. china said let's
have bread and development. the chinese are wondering whether we can't have this kind of success in the middle east. i would say without democracy, peace through development can be only short-term. thank you. >> director here at the atlantic council. to doctor sultan and sun, how do you think china sees its long-term relationship with the ron and how it is approaching the trump administration policy in trying to deal with that. and to ms. coates is the only engagement by iran with the trump administration president to president? is there some other channel? could you give us an idea of what that channel would be and whether the u.s. is prepared
to make any concessions or offer any sweeteners to get iran to the table as an easing sanctions perhaps. thank you. >> for iran, there has been a lot of investment from china in iran. it is a pretty important development. they always herald the civil laced civilization ties that both states have. but at the same time the volume of trade between china and the u.s. and china and iran always means that the u.s. is going to weigh in the u.s. favor. but also looking at the middle east in general, china seems to be working closely with status quo states. the relationship with iran is a good opportunity for energy as doctor coates pointed out they import a lot of iranian energy. but, i don't think they really
get as much out of working with iran out of say working with the other side of the gulf. if you work with the emirates in saudi, that brings egypt to the table and the rest of the middle east. these ties with the ron really don't establish what they are trying to pull off themselves and it doesn't connect anything else. in central asia there is not a lot of coordination between iran. >> if you look at logistics, in 2017 iran was the fourth largest oil supplier of china. but in 2018, iran declined to the seventh largest oil supplier to china. if we look at the figures, in november and december of 2018 china has essentially reduced oil in iran. we want to have better relations with usa.
u.s. china relations is global. i ronnie relations is regional. we have to make a compromise between the two. and china has done that to satisfy americans. >> just a follow-up on that. that was was i was addressing on my marks in the increase leverage the united states has because of our status as an energy exporter. i think we have been working very closely with uae and saudi to make sure that china's energy needs are met by the proper grades of crude that will be compatible with the refineries. in terms of the administration's engagement with k ron the president is the person with the credibility to say that he very much wants to have a diplomatic resolution to the
current tensions. he thinks that is possible. the whole point of the maximum economic campaign is to have greater leverage in those negotiations to have what the president and the secretary of state have laid out. i think they have all been very clear that no preconditions means no preconditions. that they are not going to reduce pressure in order to get iran to the table. they think that the iranians should want to negotiate at this point. as i said, the oil export numbers are emblematic of the difficult situation that the government has put the people in. we would think it would be only reasonable that they would want to get that reversed. >> man? >> thank you.
just wondering, trump has talked about putting tariffs on more chinese goods and i'm wondering how that will affect the middle east. >> i would see the president's policy in trade negotiations with china as completely separate from the middle east. i don't think that they necessarily would affect the middle east. >> i think nowadays there is a huge debate in china also about u.s. china relations on the trade war. i'm not an expert on this,. because china has no challenge to the ideology, china and the u.s. has one global market. in the soviet union era,, china does not have a military block. therefore i think it is only
an economic trade war. not the cold war. i'm quite opportunistic that u.s. and china can settle their disputes because they don't have structure contradiction. thank you. >> in the back? >> hi, this question is for doctor coates. there have been recent reports that saudi arabia is significantly escalating its ballistic missile program with the help of china. my question is how concerned is the administration that this will further spark a potential arms race in the middle east? >> that is always a source of significant concern. the truly ask la torre activity has been on the part of iran. it has been a far more aggressive program. to expand its military footprint and take a series of increasingly aggressive
actions. certainly, the united states would not condone that kind of report we have seen recently, but our main concern would be elsewhere. >> i have this for doctor sun. i appreciate your optimism. i don't know if i go along with it entirely. more specifically, how do you respond to this concern that seems to be prevalent in washington dc policy that for example when we talk about digital conductivity, it is either going to be it seems the western countries or else china which is the one who provides the digital conductivity of the future and it will be part of the belt road. it is a question of 5g. it seems like his huawei going
to be the group that brings 5g to africa and the middle east? i don't see how you really have a possibility for this great cooperation here. it seems you have a winner and a loser. also, these undersea fiber- optic cables which are the indo pacific cables which the chinese cables will be carrying 90% of all of that traffic. how do you respond to that feeling here? >> i would mention there's actually a debate in china about this one. i think the impact of the huawei 5g although i am not an expert has been exaggerated. my understanding, let's market business. otherwise if we regard it as a rivalry between china and u.s.
in the scientific or technological expects it will be exaggerated and i think the two sides will be trapped. i don't think china will pass the u.s. in the digital connectivity access. there could be some breakthrough. therefore i am opportunistic. i don't think u.s. china will surpass u.s. in the 5g area of the digital connective area, i don't think so. >> sir? >> i would be interested in hearing the administration's view about the elephant in the room which is if the u.s. locked up more than 1 million muslims and tore down a couple hundred mosques and religious facilities we would be seeing
right throughout the middle east so bad as to constitute a third world war. and yet china gets a pass. and the muslims in the middle east are quiet, silent. his chinese money so awesome that they have successfully bought off every muslim in the middle east except turkey? to talk about how their brethren are being treated in china? >> that situation is of great concern to the administration. i think both the secretary of state and vice president have a number of things to say on the topic. and we don't condone that at all. and concur that we would be perhaps held to a different standard. it is something that i think we will continue to watch.
>> teaching in the emirates, my students don't know anything about it. i think in a state that controls its media, the stories don't really filter out too much. when the crown prince went to beijing in february, he addressed this issue and he addressed it by saying china has the prerogative to address political coal is somehow ever at once. if the chinese government turns the situation and they frame it as a response to political islam, a lot of gulf states especially also consider that a threat to regime stability. you will see that a lot of the political leads in the middle east don't really find this as troubling as we would. it seems kind of an acceptable response to challenges to the regime. i'm not saying that is my perspective, i'm just saying with talking to people in the
gulf, that seems to be a common way of looking at it. >> sir? >> hi, ben katz. throughout this conversation one thing that has come up is how china has reduced soil imports from iran in compliance with u.s. sanctions. but aside from the oil trade, has there been any change in chinese engagement with iran as part of the sanctions? and also when the sanctions eventually do go away whether it is this year or next year, 10 years from now, to all see china's engagement with iran bouncing back the way it did after the jc poa was signed or will it double down on its ties of the status quote states in the gulf country? >> i would just say the choice of whether the sanctions go away is entirely the choice of iran.
and hopefully the sanctions would go away under circumstances that would enable the engagement of iran in the international economic community at which point we would assume china would be interested in around the same way the united states would be interested in iran. there is tremendous potential in that country. we strongly believe the people of iran deserve the kind of prosperity that their country could naturally support. it would be our hope that iran would be open to a range of different investment and some of that would be chinese. >> the largest trading partner in the middle east is saudi arabia. with $64 billion. the next one is uae. iran is the third. i expect that in the future china and iran trade will be affected by
u.s. policy. a lot of private enterprises in china will be very very cautious for business with iran. otherwise they will be sanctioned by u.s. corporation. thank you. >> thank you all for being here. i would like to share a reaction from our u.s. panelist about hearing that china is attempting to bolster authoritarianism through development in the middle east as a solution to regional problems because i think i've got this right, democracy takes too long. thank you. >> our position very much is that we think both economic and political globalization are in the long-term interest of the region. and that those two things need to go together. that said, it will be a
process. it will happen differently for different countries as they engage in different natures of reform. it is certainly one reason that we have a very easy and well-developed relationship with israel as we are all observing, they are a functioning democracy. and with all the challenges that that entails. we certainly would support both economic and political liberalization as the most successful path to regional stability and prosperity. >> sir? >> today we enter the third year and what can you tell us about it? how you can envision states
talking to each other and become same coalition? >> i think that is where the nato model can be particularly useful. if you think back to the summer of 1974 when washington was consumed of something else we must have conflict between turkey and greece. both nato members. it is not to say that these alliances don't have internal conflict, but that in the case of nato and i would say also in the case of mesa you are confronting a larger threat. so we were very encouraged to see the prime minister of cutter attend the summit in mecca at the end of last week. at the highest level contact between the other goal nations and cutter since the beginning of the rift. that is a material stepped. in the mesa meetings we have had so far including meetings in april, they also participated. they participated in the
security pillar here in washington along with the other gcc nations. so i think that shows us the beneficial nature, our role ragged rather that a role like mesa could play in adjudicating these disputes. the president has been clear he wants to get this resolved and he thinks it is in the best interest of all parties. we will continue to try to work with both sides to bring this to a better place. to reduce tensions and friction so they can really partner together more effectively. >> mammon the back? >> i'm from the library of congress. what i express here is my own opinion.
you mentioned about there being a style among the different disciplines and i see a dialogue between the panelist with the audience. but i am curious after our panelists have expressed their opinions, their own standpoints, have you learned from each other, after you have heard from each other and your statements, has your view changed at all? and can you share? >> i have been reading degang sun stuff for years. i don't think anything has necessarily changed . he is the best. it is good to get an official perspective on these things. i don't know if anything changes that quickly. the way i work is kind of slow. i have to go back and think about this and put it all together. certainly any chance to hear from other experts is a great opportunity. i don't know if we see anything changing too quickly though.
>> thank you so much. actually i learned a lot. and i changed a lot because i noticed democracy and development are two sides of a coin. they are not contradicting with each other, they are compatible. thank you. >> my question is that we talked a lot about peace in the middle east. and we established the issue is about energy resources. recently there was a lot of movement in the trump administration to adapt to new plan to win europe from russia fuel. the plan that was established by john kerry before. do you think that establishing that plan which is like one of
the only plans that is continuing from obama and the trump administration will help break a deal with iran? because the treaty is also to that region and russia? >> certainly energy has diversification for europe and is in the united states best interest. we also think in the interest of our european partners. that is an easy one to answer. one thing i would draw your attention to is that we have the egyptians playing a very strong leadership role on the eastern mediterranean gap which brings together again not normally countries that are stove pipe. but if you get the italians and the greeks in the egyptians and the is rallies and palestinian authorities into a room and they agree on a series of principles, i think it is a pretty good bet that is a powerful motivator.
i think the collective development of the eastern mediterranean energy resources is something that is very attractive to us both in terms of ensuring adequate supply as somebody mentioned the expansion of the population of egypt. egypt has growing energy needs even if they are developing their own assets. being able to ensure the ready flow of energy throughout the mediterranean is extremely important and something we are very glad to see a country like egypt lead on and israel participate in. and the european nations also be involved. i think that is a terrific initiative and precisely we support in that arena. >> sir? i will get you next and then we have two more after that. >> my question is about saudi
arabia. to think that china in the long run will replace the u.s. as its main international partner due to the nature of the saudi regime and the fact that it is one of the most back red backward conservative regimes in the world. they will kill and torture those in the prison. it does not have a lot of women rights. it spreads islam is him through the ideology it has. so, many u.s. democrats say we cannot really handle such a regime which has values against ours. to think that china at one point will take the lead and become saudi's biggest ally? >> i don't think that china really develops alliances the
way the united states does. so the short answer is no. i do think the relationship with saudi arabia has been a very long-standing and important one to the united states. the president had a clear statement on that last november. so, no, i think we will continue to remain closely engaged with saudi arabia. we think that is the best path forward for our national security interest. >> you and you sir take two less questions and i think we will be out of time there. when we asked them both at the same time and then we will ask everyone to answer them and give any final comments that we have. >> thank you. robert, i am a resident scholar in washington. the question is mainly for doctor fulton but maybe other panelists can help address it. in your report you mentioned that the chinese deathtrap and
specifically both arab states with their substantial sovereign wealth funds are a bit less honorable to falling into a trap then poorer states. where does that leave a country that is eager to have foreign investments. on the other hand, it struggles with debt and it doesn't have the same physical capacity that its other goals arab neighbors have. >> one last question. >> thank you very much. this question is for doctor sun. you mentioned peace through development as a third alternative and i would like to hear very briefly what that would look like in places like syria or libya which are currently at four and how development would help facilitate an end to those conflicts. thank you. >> you, you, and then finish here.
>> i'm not crazy about the debt trap diplomacy narrative. it doesn't really fit what is happening in these places. we saw on the belt road form a few months ago that china revamped how it was addressing these things. they realized it was an issue with how people were seeing it. it had a negative narrative that was coming up. the most important was sri lanka. a lot of places were very heavily in debt to china. the maldives are around 70%. i don't think china's big plan is to get a port in sri lanka. they are learning as they go. they are making mistakes and revising it. and you are seeing some places like in malaysia for example when the prime minister campaigned on let's get rid of the bri and get china out of
here, he gets elected and says let's renegotiate. you look at a lot of states i would maybe sign these deals enthusiastically because frankly not too many other states are willing to go into pakistan. it is an opportunity that comes around not too frequently. they are going to sign up and i don't think chinese leaders are going to let the whole thing blow up just so they can get a bunch of ports. it is an interesting case because i think something like 45% of their trade is with china. their exports go to china. there is a real dependency there. and i think that means the relationship has to be managed pretty carefully. i think both sides recognize this. and they're going to balance this pretty well i think. >> thank you so much for your question about reconstruction of syria and olivia and libya.
i believe that if we look at the middle east from the humanitarian assistance perspective, outside powers got syria and libya in an arena of operation instead of conflict. if we look at the middle east the problem is no country has a sense of security. they feel insecure. how can we solve the problem? i think we should have collective security instead of collective defense. alliance cannot solve the problems. therefore i believe syria and libya can be a way for the outside powers to provide assistance for the people and let them decide what kind of political system it can choose. it will be easy to talk but it will be hard to implement. i think humanitarian assistance
is our duty. >> i would just add to that we can forget about yemen when talking about syria and libya and the united states remains the proud leader humanitarian donor. i agree that is vitally important work. and the president has been clear particularly on the syria front that the people of syria should choose what their future government should be. so that is how we would approach that problem. >> with that, let me ask everyone to give a round of applause to our entire group this is a fascinating conversation. and thank you all for coming. we very much appreciate your time. >> thank you.
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