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tv   Mark Esper Sen. Sullivan and Rep. Murphy Discuss U.S.- China Relations  CSPAN  June 9, 2021 6:59pm-8:01pm EDT

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involvement in the vietnam war. watch landmark cases sunday night on c-span, online on c-span.org, or listen on the free c-span radio app. ♪ >> next, discussion about u.s. china relations. speakers include representative stephanie murphy, senator dan sullivan, and mark esper.
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this is a part of the mccain institutes forum. >> my name is josh rogan, i am a columnist with "the washington post." this panel will be about the china challenge. very excited to welcome to the stage now three public servants who all have not only played a crucial role in readying the united states for the china challenge, but who all have their own career and personal stories connected to the late senator. i myself traveled with senator mccain for many years and many countries to watch him both to support the afflicted all over the world and that he so's -- ethos is part of what we are bringing forward.
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i would like to welcome you all to this panel right now and i would like to start off with a question. the question i am posing to each of you and i will start with you, senator sullivan, is very simply this, at the beginning and now of 2021 during the biden administration, u.s.-china relations are in a different place than they were four years ago. it is undoubtably true that the trump administration changed the strategy and the conversation about china in ways that cannot be undone, but to be honest, it was a mixed picture. what do you think the trump administration got right about china, and what do you think that the trump administration got wrong about china? you have to answer both, and not just one or the other. >> is great to be back at the sedona forum, and i want to do a shout out to the forum, to the mccain institute.
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we all have our john mccain stories, i have a bunch of them, and you witnessed a few of them year after year when i had the honor of traveling with senator mccain and having him as a mentor in the u.s. senate. i am thrilled to be back here and it is great to be on a panel of congresswoman murphy and my good friend, former secretary of defense, secretary esper who also did a great job, so just want to mention that. when i came to the senate and one of the first speeches i gave on the senate floor six years ago was about china challenge. to be honest, not many people were talking about the china challenge. i said, i was a marine, deployed out to the middle east,
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so i did it. but the big challenge and 100 years as china and nobody seems to be talking about that. i mentioned that because obviously you could not give that speech anymore, i gave that speech a lot six years ago. i think the trump administration deserves a lot of the credit. one of the things that is not recognized nearly enough, the national security strategy put forward by president trump, h.r. mcmaster, the national defense strategy that fed into that with secretary mattis and secretary esper, these were really important, very serious documents that reoriented our entire strategic approach in the world away -- not away, we still have to focus on the violent extremists organization after 9/11, rightfully so by the
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way, but now this focus on great power competition with china as the pacing threat was the result of the national security strategy and the national defense strategy of the trump administration. they deserve all kinds of credit for that. the one thing that is always missed about these documents, even during the times that we are in where it is partisan on a lot of issues, those documents were very -- that focus was bipartisan. mentioned in the last two national defense authorization act's. those were written and oriented around the national defense strategy. so that is a really important development of what the trump administration did. related to that, they did not let china do what we have all seen in meetings, i have seen as recently as a year and a half ago, and these officials when you talk about reciprocity, we
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need reciprocity in a relationship, we know we don't always have it but that is because we are developing country and the united states as a developed country. they still use that talking point and the trumpet ministration to not allow them to use that talking point. there is some criticism of the trump administration with regard to allies, we are in ally rich nation and the chinese are ally poor. i heard recently a great praise, they don't have allies, they have customers. i think that criticism is a little overblown with regard to the trump administration. i think the biden administration is off to a good start on the issue of allies and i know we have talked about that more. the area that i think -- so there are allies, ok, some people say we did not do enough and i think art relationship with japan and india started to get stronger, even vietnam under
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the trump administration, so i will push back on that. this is the one area where i think they did not do enough and deserves criticism. one of our huge comparative advantages, not just military or our energies, it is our commitment, as you said, to democracy, to democratic values. in the global competition with china, we need to emphasize that, we need to be proud of it. that element of the trump administration's policy in my view is very muted, and it did not need to be muted. that is a huge comparative advantage. i think it is a comparative advantage for people in hong kong and beijing. every person in the -- on the globe has the feeling of the beating heart of freedom whether you are chinese or american or from burma, and we need to
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emphasize that more. in my view, they did not do it enough, overall, it was a strong effort on reorienting our strategic outlook on regard to china. josh: i should have mentioned up front that senator sullivan is coming off of his first reelection of senator and the chairman of the whole can succeeding senator mccain in that role. i want to pose the same question to congresswoman murphy who just won her second reelection. congratulations, and same question to you, what was good about the trumpet ministration's china policy and what was bad about it? sen. murphy: thank you for inviting me and i hope bayern myself -- i had hope i am re-invited. you introduced me as a democrat,
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and you are think that i don't have anything positive to say about a republican. i am still old-fashioned and believe the way that i believe that senator mccain did in politics should stop at the water's edge. it is great to be on with secretary esper and senator sullivan and i agree with senator sullivan and that the trump administration deserves credit for its 2017 national security strategy which prioritized china as america's biggest national security challenge. there is real value in stating that clearly. also getting to very loudly and aggressively not only reaching the conclusion, but advocating the conclusion but that that this experiment that we were on philip -- we were on for the past couple of decades to try to help china become a more
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responsible member of the community or transform democracy has failed. they entered the international global community and then pushed the rules as far as they could to dance -- advance their own interests often at the expense of our interests. they understood that the international organization that we had in large part help to build required a level of unanimity in order to have any kind of consequences for individual members who do not comply by the rules. they went about kind of picking people off using a variety of diplomacy or extortion, however you want to describe it, to create a situation where they could get all of the benefits of this international community
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without paying in or playing by the rules. to the flaws of what the trump administration's approach to china was, i think while they correctly identified the problem , their inconsistency and incoherence on executing a strategy to address the bad conduct led to a situation where a ton of progress on any of the objectives that were laid out at the front. and i will give you an example, i am on the way to the subcommittee of trade so it is a focused area for me and everyone agrees that china's trade practices are abusive. the litany of things they do wrong and violations they commit our long, but the question is how do you effectively address it. the very first thing that the trump administration did was to unilaterally withdraw from the transpacific partnership. i believe we should about a more open debate about the decision for it but participating in that
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particular economic partnership in the region would have strengthened the united states and weakened china in that region. i think it was a geopolitical mistake of the highest order. i am not someone who believes in alliances for the sake of alliances. we have alliances for strategic purposes and in the asia-pacific region, we have to have a greater presence. the tpp could have been an area to do that. the trump administration a imposed aluminum and steel tarif fs on our allies because encounter -- causing counter tariffs. the first set of tariffs on our allies weakened their resolve to help us on china. while american companies were
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willing to endure the tariffs for some time, they did not actually make any progress towards correcting the bad behavior around ip and other things. we just got more soybean purchases. i think, they correctly identify the problem, did not make too much progress on actually effecting and changing bad behavior. josh: thank you, congresswoman murphy. even though soybean purchases did not come through, so we did not even get that much. we have heard some praise and some criticisms of the trump administration's approach. it is important to go to former sec. mark esper who was an integral part of that approach in several capacities and in addition to being the former defense secretary, dr. esper is also now the john s mccain's distinguished fellow at the mccain institute.
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secretary esper, the good, the bad, the ugly. fmr. sec. esper: thanks again for hosting us today. it is great to be back and that is also a privilege to be here as the distinguished fellow. i want to thank cindy mccain and the board for their confidence in me. let me step back and frame this to say -- and i agree with what senator sullivan and congresswoman murphy have said. we recognize even the biden administration recognizes that we are in this competition with the chinese. there strategic objective is to displace the united states has the world's preeminent power by midcentury. they talk about it, they write about it. what they also want to do is upset this international rules based quarter that have served so many friends and allies now. we must compete, and we do that first and foremost by leading with our values. we also have to do to some other
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things. we have to achieve a strong and capable military, a robust diplomatic corporate adequate foreign assistance. and invest in technologies. those things that the trump administration had done and abided in this ration is doing as well. the world is looking for the united states for leadership and we need to provide it. if we don't, nobody else will. i think it also means that we have to set aside toxic partisanship, we have to get our house in order because this is going to be a competition that lasts decades, and whoever wins it will end up dominating the 21st century. with that, framing it in that regard, let me say this much -- i am proud of what the trump administration accomplished when it came to china. i think it is a very important achievement that we took a very clear i, straightforward approach -- clear eye,
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straightforward approach recognizing china and its ambitions. and i would say as someone who has worked china now for 25 years, i was on the floor when we approve the most favored trade status for china and it came into the wto a year later, so most folks cannot appreciate change that has happened in 25 years with regards to china. i think we are finally at the point where we should have been so many years ago with regard to what their ambitions are. a success has been bringing focus to that, a whole of government approach encapsulated in national security strategy, and for me, the national defense strategy was the most important thing. as you know and as congress knows, i made it my top priority, so we went about everything from approving the readiness of the force today to modernizing weapons and other pieces of equipment we needed for that challenge, we focus the departments of china, i set up a red cell to look at china, focusing our professional
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military education on chinese doctrine in order for battle. i felt in the time we had emily made a lot of good progress and i am pleased to see secretary austin and secretary kat hicks of said as well, treating china as the threat. those are important things. some other accomplishments, and i will thread the needle between what congresswoman murphy said and senator sullivan said. i think we may be making some very important progress in regards to our allies and partners. secretary pompeo and i were -- was india. if china is the most challenging relationship, i think the india one is the one that presents the most opportunity, so i think that is important and i was very pleased to see that president biden participated in a quiet, very important, we had helped set the basis for that. and secretary austin going over early to new delhi to speak to
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his counterparts. of course, i have been very encouraged by what i see coming up from japan and that relationship. last but not least, nato moved a good distance and the four years in terms of how it approach looking at china. i think that is very important and we can talk about some of the things we did domestically with regard to checking the progress or the role of chinese companies in the united states, and we can talk about that. on the other hand, things we did not do as well, i do think we created unnecessary irritants in a relationship at times with our allies and partners. congresswoman murphy mentioned one that prevented us from realizing the full potential of how we could not have gotten all the countries on board, particularly those in europe earlier at least much further along. i would put that down as a criticism. i think we probably in terms of the whole of government approach, i thought the dod did very good job my that the state
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did a very good job, but how do we employ all of the other departments of the united states appropriately to do so. i give credit to commerce, but i thought we probably could have done more on a whole of government approach. the most specific thing i would say is we finished a lot stronger than we started, and if we had kept the pace of front that we had near the end, we would have moved the ball even further down the field. i am encouraged by where the biden administration is right now. i think they are saying and doing all the right things and time will tell, i think china is testing them right now also. i will pause there. josh: that is exactly where i would like to take the conversation next. thank you very much. we have had a few months to watch the initial steps by the biden administration. but most people say is that we have seen a lot continuity. at the same time, the true test
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between competing interests inside the biden administration have largely yet to play out, in other words, they have not really faced a tough decision. i am wondering what each of you think about when you see how the biden administration is handling the china challenge? and frankly, i would like each of you to give me a grade, a, b, c, how do you think they are handling this so far? let me start with senator sullivan. sen. sullivan: i have been trying to work with the biden administration on some of the issues that congresswoman murphy and secretary esper raised. high think at the end of the day, xi's worst nightmare is to see a long-term, strong, bipartisan strategy that the united states and ask and conducts and i've made it clear to the incoming biden
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administration that i am willing to be a partner where i think their strategy makes sense. i would give the grade and incomplete, because there is a whole host of issues that are up in the air. let me give you a couple where i think they have done a good job and some that i think are still out there. i was in alaska after the meetings and met with the secretary of state, secretary bl inken, and jake sullivan, the national, right after their meeting with the chinese in anchorage. i know secretary austin verily -- fairly well. the way in which they started this, making sure the first meeting with the chinese on american soil, great state, my states. but also, that they really set
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up, i secretary esper said, an important quad level meeting. that had been built on the trump administration -- the quad idea started in the george w. bush administration. that was a very important -- that the visits to japan, korea by the secretary of state and secretary of defense and then the secretary of defense going to india himself. it was really important to set the stage. jake sullivan likes to use this phrase, dealing with the chinese from situations of strength. that is the old dean atchison phrase that he used in the creation, when describing how to deal with the soviet union after world war ii. i could not agree more with them on that.
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allies is one area that is a situation of strength. we have stronger alliances, certainly than the chinese or other adversaries like russia or north korea. working together on domestic legislation. you have written about it, josh. some of it is coming together to make us more competitive in regard to china. there is an important bipartisan opportunity on that. let me give you two where the grade is incomplete. one is on the military. the obama/biden administration second term cut defense spending by 25%. xi jin ping stood next to obama and the rose garden and said we are not going to militarize the south china sea. that was untrue, that was alive. when they set it to do that, secretary of state john kerry and others in the obama administration would not even do
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freedom of navigation operations as they were gutting our military and readiness. our readiness plummeted. we have rebuilt that during the trump administration. the big issue -- we have not rebuilt that, where are they going to be on the military? you have members of the democratic party, bernie sanders, chuck schumer -- they put forward a bill and called it the defund the pentagon amendment. 14% across-the-board cuts. that is a part of the democratic party. where joe biden and sec. austin going to be when they put forward a military budget? it better not be weak, the chinese will notice. on huge comparative advantage we have right now -- again, the trump administration built up but it was built over many years. prior to pandemic, we were the
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world's energy superpower. produced more oil, natural gas, renewables than any other country on earth. this is an enormous, strategic comparative advantage, particularly as it relates to china who is extremely vulnerable on these issues. out of the gate, the biden administration's energy policy is focused on curtailing the production of american energy. killing american jobs. this makes the russians, the uranian's, and the chinese very happy. it is very misguided. there is a debate going on within the biden administration at the highest levels of where they should go. if we unilaterally disarm our american energy independence and dominance we have in the world, that will be the best thing that putin and xi would want us to do. the jury is still out and we have a lot of areas to work together on, but if they are weak on the military and week on
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energy, and they have john kerry leading the charge again on these issues, it is not going to be something that i will be supported above, even though i am trying to be supportive on a whole host of fronts and i have certainly let them know that in public and private. josh: before we go onto congresswoman murphy, just a quick follow-up. you were in alaska and talk to the secretary of state and national security advisor. we have seen every and -- every analysis there is, that it was a blunder. how did the biden team do in alaska? what did you get from your front row seat? sen. sullivan: has secretary esper said, they are clearly being tested. the wolf warrior diplomacy was on full display. i think they should have been ready for that, but i have not been want to go out and criticize secretary blinken or
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jake sullivan on the way in which they dealt with that. they brought the media back in, i think they could've been stronger on our values, the fact that the chinese are calling themselves the democracy. that is a joke. that is actually, factually not true. they may have been a little bit weak on acknowledging that, yeah, we have challenges. we certainly have challenges, there is no doubt, with our own citizens, but to let the chinese get away with mentioning black lives matter and other things as some kind of moral equivalence of the way in which they deal with their people, perhaps they could've pushed back a little bit stronger on that. should have, and my view, but overall, i think the fact that they brought the press back in, they regrouped on that, i am not someone who is out there pounding them, these are tough
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issues, and i think like i said, overall the orientation and the first meetings, i got to readouts. they were not weak in those meetings. they were pressing the chinese and they need to continue to do that and i think they will get bipartisan support if they continue to do that. josh: thank you. let me turn to you congresswoman murphy. what is the view of how the biden administration is doing with inside your caucus and what where is your personal view of how those first meetings were handled? rep. murphy: i used to teach college before i came to congress, and we have not yet hit spring break. i am with senator sullivan on the incomplete with addressing how they did. i think the biden is undertaking review of the u.s. policy towards china, which they should do.
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it is also going to be informed how i respond, it will be informed by public opinion as well as congress. we are not without agency in this situation and i would notice that dachshund note the anti--- would note that anti-china sentiment is high, and i would hope that we would keep it on anti-tpp rather than anti-chinese-americans. it looks like more of the same. both of the administrations, prior to taking off, they said they would focus on domestic issues and not do much in the trade space. i would argue that our trading relationships are a key part to our domestic/economic recovery. my hope is they will rethink that. recently confirmed that the usgr on the tariff issue, you don't
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give up leverage for nothing, and whether she agreed with it in the beginning or not, she inherited that, and now it is leverage you can use. my hope is that she use it for better outcomes. on the defense budget, our defense budget, it is good to hear the senior officials in the biden administration acknowledged that china is our threat. if they are our threat, you have to resource your values or your goals on that. our defense budget is about 731 billion dollars. most of that is deferring china and supporting allies, and basically appropriating and getting into the pacific deterrence initiative, which is
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a huge part of the touring china in the region. my hope is that the biden administration will propose to continue that level of funding and not cut it, recognizing that we are facing a wide range of challenges, but again having agency on this. i lead the blue dog coalition, dedicated to the strong national security and fiscal responsibility, and i know that my members will have a say as it relates to where the defense budget is and how it comes out of the house, and i think their opinion will matter. i think the alliances whole of government as well as working with our allies will be back with foreign policy, the biden administration has clearly taken to heart the famous -- from the republican who basically
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compared diplomacy to gardening. we have some weeds to pull out and some fields to plow, so to speak. we have to make those investments because building and maintaining these relationships takes constant maintenance. we also have to build back power if we are going to continue the farming analogy, our farmers. a lot of folks who do this work for us on a day-to-day basis, there are summer i'll issues -- there are some morale issues and there have been some gutting, to put it lightly. there is more investment that has to happen. finally, i think the biden administration should be more willing to talk about human rights. i always got the sense that the trump administration and trump himself was not comfortable highlighting human rights. you can be strong and defend your values and still be seen as
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strong. it was almost as if the last administration was afraid it ♪ fmr. sec. esper: -- afraid that if they talk about human rights, that would be seen as a weakness. but the biden administration truly understands that human rights has to lead our foreign policy so it helps it lead our allies and be seen as a global leader, and be the person that defines the terms of this battle. we are in a conflict between china is both a government system, competition, as well as economic competition. all of that conversation, that is a part of their larger psychological operations, to undermine and undercut our system of government as well as our economic system. not only to the world, that
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their version is better, but also uncertainty in our domestic discourse. we have to be better inoculated against that and do better on the global stage. josh: thank you, before i move on, i do want to address the issue that senator sullivan raised. the complication with the race issue and the chinese issue, both on the race side and the chinese side. and in their efforts to distract from the chinese atrocities, the chinese delegation pointed to racial issues we have in our society, and senator blinken
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responded with the distinction that he thought as i draw, but i wanted to ask you, congresswoman murphy, how do you think about these two issues and how they are interacting, and how we can deal with both of them, but how we can both confront the bad behavior of the chinese communist party, and also, deal responsibly and forthrightly with what is undeniably a rising trend of hate and racism against asian americans and pacific islanders in our community? rep. murphy: what is happening in our society right now, though it be that we are dealing with it in a democratic way by having conversation and dialogue about it, it is undeniable that it is happening. it is also undeniable that it has an impact not only on us here at home on americans, but also an impact on our alliances, and our partners overseas.
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for example, i received a letter from the ambassador of vietnam expressing deep concerns about the asian american violence that they are saying unfold just as we received a lot of diplomatic response on the aftermath of january 6. these incidentx that happen are not just -- they are real incidents, and they are broadcast not just for the american people look for the world all across -- people all across the world, and those two things go at the heart of what we say we value in this country, and what we promote, which is a strong democracy undergirded by fruited fair -- by free and fair elections and the peaceful transfer of power, as well as an open society that is inclusive
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of all of the hyphenated americans that make the country great. as a country, we have to have -- not only use our words to push back on this, there has to be some actions that acknowledge that there are some issues here and we need to make some changes. josh: excellent. and talking about how to do that while also being clear i'd about the china challenge. there are people both on the right and left to assert that we cannot do both. that ramping up our confrontation of the chinese government is sincerely fuels the ramping up of hate and violence. sen. sullivan: of course we can
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manage it, but it means that people who have a platform being more responsible with the rhetoric. when we talk about the ccp, we distinction from the chinese people and this thing which them from asian or chinese americans. there are real problems being perpetuated by the ttp -- ccp, and the only way we can address it is being united as a country and partnered with our allies. when we have elected officials who conflate the cpp with asian americans and stoke the vision in this country, it makes us weaker at home and undermines our moral authority when it comes to addressing the very real human rights violations that are happening in regions in china and the real undermine democracy happening in hong kong and moreover, when we see this conflation between and t --
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between anti-cpp and anti-asian american, we are attacking ourselves and helping the cpp. the last thing i will say is we have to have a politics that does not -- this kind of divisive hate and rhetoric is not rewarded financially. we are coming to an end of a quarter here and if you look at some of the people who are most guilty of that kind of irresponsible rhetoric, they have had the largest fundraising quarter because they are fueling into this racism and hate within this country. it is making us weaker. we have to be strong together. josh: there was one leader who keenly understood the value that asian americans bring to our society and especially the public service, that was senator
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mccain himself. congresswoman murphy, you found that out senator mccain directly. can you share with us the experience? rep. murphy: sure. when i was a freshman member of congress, i was the first vietnamese woman elected to congress. i was with senator mccain when he was at the hanoi hilton. to place where he had been tortured by the viet cong, a place where he had endured five years in prison in shackles, and he was answering questions for the delegation and he talked about the importance of having veterans, people like senator sullivan and others who were in the not only the senate and the house, but that it was important to have veterans in
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congress, but then he turned to me and said, congratulations. you and so many other vietnamese americans have contributed so much to this country. and i think it is that kind of dedication to those very american values that senator mccain embodied that makes this country so great and it gives me so much hope that we will pull out of this dark moment, because i believe that inclination is more american -- understanding that we are a diverse nation and everybody has made contributions , and respecting and acknowledging that the way that senator mccain did, it is that instinct that i think is purely american that gives me hope in this moment that we will get out of this partisan rhetoric and be able to pull together stronger. and confront our adversaries,
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are true adversaries and those are foreign adversaries. josh: thank you so much for sharing that with us. secretary esper, thank you for being patient. most of the serving lawmakers dawes to buy grading assignment -- dodge migrating assignments, so maybe you will be the only one to answer and give the biden administration biden administration a grade on their china approach so far, and also if you could share your perspective on what you just heard. fmr. sec. esper: it is too early, we have not hit the 100 day mark yet, so it is early. i am pleased with what i am hearing. president biden has said that his top foreign policy priority will be competing with china on the global stage. that is good to hear. they made good comments about the genocide that is occurring in western china against the uighurs, talking about the crackdown on democracy advocates in hong kong the, those are all good things. and we spoke earlier about the
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interaction with our allies, whether it is the india or japan, all of those are good things. but the metric for me, as it is with most things, is wordy but your people, time, and money echo --? will be the yardstick by which we should look at these things. i will jump on where senator sullivan was. china this year is investing 6.8% will be there budget growth. previous years over the last four or five years, it has been between 7% and 8% annually and in the 2000, it was double digits annually. they are at a breakneck pace to modernize their military they have told us that by 2035, they want a modern military and by 2039, they want a world-class military, which is their way of saying they want a better military than we have.
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we have to compete. leadership is tough and it requires sacrifice and we will not be able to compete if they are investing at 6% or 8% and we are investing at 0% growth. the parameters we are talking about is a flat budget or 10% reduction. even a flat budget means you are losing 2.5% due to inflation. my view, during my time in office, it was articulated -- we should be investing percent to 5% annual real growth each year. 3% to 5%. if we are going to not just make up for the years of sequestration and budget cuts, but also to make sure that we can compete with china, it will take money. the challenges we are coming off of this 20 years of being fixated, for good reasons, on iraq and afghanistan.
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we have to modernize the military. that will take 10 years of investment and i'm not sure that we have the capacity. i think we need to build a bigger, better navy. the future naval core structure strategy that i presented in october, i talked about a 500 ship navy but we do not even have the capacity right now. when you can bind them with the koreans and japanese, they occupy -- combined them with the koreans and japanese, they occupy more. so where is the united states? it is going to take investment and those are tough choices. by the way, it is not just investment in dod, but investment in state, foreign
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assistance, and all those elements of our national power that will be critical to winning this fight. the other advantage we have is we have to continue to strengthen our allies and partners, bring them along, and in some cases it means doing things outside of the military realm or diplomatic round, but just makes good sense, so can we share covid vaccines with them? can we practice that type of diplomacy or foreign assistance, the development assistance, so i think those things are critical, but those are you the metrics as i look over the coming months, people time and dollars, where are they put. it will take a commitment and that is why i go back to what i said originally. the bigger challenge to solve is tamping down partisanship and then figuring out between both parties, how do we get our fiscal house in order? it is not just -- not enough defense spending but not enough discretionary spending, and that means we need to take a look at
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the other side of the budget which is the mandatory side of the house. those are big issues and we have to see whether congress and the executive branch are up for taking those on. josh: excellent. that brings me back to you senator sullivan. we alluded to this earlier, but let china challenge is not solely military challenge, but economic challenge. and an innovation challenge. as you know, the senate is about the take up the endless frontier bill, a schumer todd bill that is now being used as a vehicle for lots of other china related stuff, and i startled 100 billion dollars to revamp the national science foundation. under the premise as we have heard from secretary blinken, we should not be trying to slow down china, we should be trying to run faster. but the bill is already caught up in partisan bickering and bureaucratic this function.
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how is congress going to perform on this big test? are you guys going to be able to come together to put forth a program for competing with china on the invasion front and a conference of bipartisan wake or not -- bipartisan way or not? sen. sullivan: i made a prediction a couple of years ago in a speech on china that the more that this challenge becomes a parent not just members of congress, but to the american people that the more i think it is going to drive bipartisan action to get our own house in order and act together, whether it is on issues of the debt and deficit, or innovation, or infrastructure -- but i do not think we are there yet. i don't think we're there yet.
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this is going to be an important aspect of -- in some ways, an important first test with regards to how we look at these issues and truly come together. not to be too partisan here, but on the covid relief bill that passed a month or so ago, i think the biden administration failed that test, they failed it miserably. here's why. then 2020, so much of the focus was to get through the pandemic and in the senate in particular, we wrote five different pieces of pandemic relief legislation. the cares act being the most prominent of them all, but even a big, important bill in december. all five of those were very bipartisan. over 90 senators voting for those because we opened it up chamoli made it clear and even though the republicans controlled the senate and the white house, that we thought on
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pandemic relief that it would be really important to make that bipartisan. unfortunately, that model was rejected in this to trillion dollar covid relief bill that passed by essentially a partyline vote just about three weeks ago in the senate and the house. i am hoping we can do better on this, there are a lot of good ideas, and as i mentioned, i am not a one trick pony. the opportunities with technology and energy are just off the charts. and we are not going to try to do any kind of energy for the hydrocarbon, oil and gas -- my broader point in my broader positive outlook is that the
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more this challenge is seen as very real, particularly by the people we represent, the more we are going to need and will come together on issues that really impact us, deficit, infrastructure, and getting rid of red tape, but are we there yet, i think it is going to be an important test, i am not 100% helpful, but we will get there. we will get there. it might not be this bill though. josh: got it, thank you. the coronavirus pandemic has impacted the u.s. china relationship in a variety of ways in many of these are that -- i would like to ask you, how do you see china using advancing and strategic interests not just
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in the united states but all over the world, vaccine blackmail, and basically a very aggressive approach and what can we do to respond. we want our vaccines for our people but what other tools could the u.s. in congress use to make sure the coronavirus pandemic is not abused by the chinese communist party? rep. murphy: i am glad you asked the question and you shamelessly plug your new book because i will shamelessly plug a bill that i just authored that tries to address this very issue. it is actually called preventing china from exploiting covid-19 acts. i will be reintroducing it this year and it basically requires the dni to prepare an assessment of the different ways in which we have seen the ccp exploit the pandemic in order to advance
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china's interests and undermine the interests of the united states. you mentioned that we have seen the ccp and medical equipment as a way to really coerce these countries. we have also seen this he cpus the global destruction and the tactic where people are focused domestically and the pandemic, they have used the opportunity as a smokescreen to more aggressively pursue some of their long-standing sovereignty included what they have done in hong kong or taiwan oration john. -- taiwan or shenzyeun. we know this activity has been going on and it is clear it has exasperated the relationship that we should have a very clear ic assessment of all the ways
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they are interacting and then figuring out how we can support or counter it. >> thank you. secretary esper, i want to close out by -- >> can i add one point on your question? josh: sure. >> i am critical where i see the need to call out some missteps or potential missteps with the biden administration. on the other hand, when you saw the quad leaders meeting, it was the first one of its kind, very important, and their major initiative was vaccine diplomacy in southeast asia and other areas, and that was ambitious, it did not get a lot of press. i actually thought it was an important step to what you just
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at congress woman murphy about and i think that could have a very positive impact, and looking as far as the hiv aids initiative that george w. bush undertook that can really matter. i think that was something that goes to the question that you asked and it was innovative and a good start. josh: excellent, thank you for that addition, that was helpful. let me turn back to you secretary esper with the last question. i know this was an issue that was close to senator mccain's heart, the u.s. partnership with taiwan. what we see is increasingly aggressive tactics, incursions, intimidation, interference by the chinese government. it is hard to tell how worried we should be and what the threat assessment really is.
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you are defense secretary until recently. give us your honest assessment -- what do you think is going on there? how worried should we be on what we see as an increasing encroachment upon the freedom and rights by china? fmr. sec. esper: two areas of concern for me when it came to china where the taiwan straight in the south china sea. we clearly know that china considers taiwan as a part of -- to them, it is indisputable part of a territory and that is on that bucket list of things that they want to finalize. i was on the handover for hong kong, that was another one. they are playing hong kong closer in. i think it is a matter of concern and i think it is something we watch closely, i know the indo pay, command does,
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but the taiwanese need to do more as well. they need to increase defense spending and they need to spend on the right things. we need to look at more ways to cooperate. it was greater cooperation with taiwan and also, how do we incorporate into our planning our allies, and this begins with allies such as japan and the australians and others, but interestingly, we have european allies that have a perspective who can also play a role. i think we need to think more broadly in that regard about the defense in taiwan but more importantly, how do we deter chinese aggressive behavior that were a part of the communiques. i do want to say this much about taiwan, and i want to jump an issue over, because these issues are always bigger than a single domain.
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taiwan's involvement in international organizations. here is a country that did incredibly well with covid, and were a case study and terms of how to prevent high infection rates, and yet they are not a member of the who. at the same time, we see china trying to infiltrate at all of the international organizations, and other organizations of the u.s. our state department is working very hard to ensure that we have very good people, not just in the united states, but any liberal western country, if you will, that can be put in these organizations and defend that international space. this is another way that china is trying to undermine the order and trying to undermine it. they all knitted together, they
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-- china has a grand plan and we need to start competing together on all parts. josh: it is clear to me from this discussion that we are only beginning to scratch the surface of what we need to do as a government and as a society in rising to the generational challenge of a rising china. it also seems clear that there is a lot that we can agree on and a lot a bipartisan overlap that can be the basis for that. response and also clear to me that nobody knows what the bind administration is going to do yet, because perhaps they don't know what they are going to do yet. we will all have to wait and see. i want to thank the senator, congresswoman, and secretary for sharing thoughts and perspectives with us. i want to thank ms. cindy mccain and the mccain institute and staff are putting together this event and i want to thank the audience were attending. i hope to see you all next year in sedona. >> thanks, josh.
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>> resident biden begins his first overseas trip with a series to u.s. troops at the. a hearing on belarus. after that, merrick garland testifies on the president's fiscal year 2022 budget request for the justice department. >> she spans washington journal. we discussed policy issues that impact you. coming up thursday morning, the host of cnn's

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