Panel Urges Congressional Action on U.S.-China Security Issues

By Nadine Siak
USINFO Staff Writer

Washington –- China, as one of the world’s major powers, is not meeting its growing responsibilities to promote free trade and international security, according to the latest report by a congressionally mandated bipartisan commission.

In its 2006 annual report issued November 16, the U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission (USCC) found that China has not acted forcefully enough to counter North Korean nuclear proliferation activities, is a destabilizing force within Darfur, Sudan, and has not moved decisively in countering intellectual property violations.

"While China is a global actor, its sense of responsibility has not kept up with its expanding power," Commission Chairman Larry Wortzel said at a press conference November 16.

The report follows a yearlong series of hearings and independent studies on a wide range of issues and includes 44 recommendations for congressional action.

Wortzel said the commission sought to highlight its top 10 recommendations, which primarily deal with closer congressional scrutiny and increased bilateral dialogue on security issues, but also touch on China's compliance with its World Trade Organization (WTO) commitments and protection of intellectual property rights.

Relations with North Korea receive particular attention in the report, which urges Congress to instruct the Bush administration to press China "to take more significant measures to denuclearize the Korean peninsula and counter North Korean proliferation activities."  (See The U.S. and the Korean Peninsula.)

The commission recommends that Congress ask the administration to hold China to its commitments under U.N. Security Council Resolution 1695, which in July demanded that North Korea suspend all activities related to its ballistic missile program and required U.N. member states to refrain from trading with North Korea on missile-related goods and technology, and Resolution 1718, which imposed sanctions on North Korea after the Pyongyang government claimed to have tested a nuclear weapon in October. (See related article.)

In particular, the commission calls for the establishment of a joint U.S.-China inspection operation to search for contraband in shipping containers that pass through Chinese ports on the way to or from North Korea, and a bilateral agreement to inspect ships at sea that are headed to or from North Korea.

Targeting China’s own proliferation activities, the commission recommends expansion of existing sanctions against Chinese companies involved in proliferation of equipment and technology related to weapons of mass destruction and their delivery systems, and asks Congress to require the U.S. Defense Department to trace the supply chains of “all components of critical weapons systems.”

Although China successfully sent a man into space three years ago, the commission highlights for the first time the possibility that the U.S.-China security balance might go beyond global considerations.  It recommends that Congress urge the Bush administration to engage in a strategic dialogue with China on the importance of space surveillance and the military use of space and space weapons. 

The commission calls for more effective assessment of the "nature, extent, and strategic and tactical implications of China's military modernization and development."  And in response to "China's efforts to isolate Taiwan," the commission urges a long-term effort to facilitate Taiwan's participation in international organizations where statehood is not required for membership.  (See Taiwan.)

The report also highlights the conflict in the Darfur region of Sudan for the first time.  The Chinese government provides military, commercial and diplomatic support to Sudan’s National Islamic Front regime, which is believed to be responsible for ongoing genocide in the western Darfur region. Since the mid-1990s, Beijing’s China National Petroleum Corporation has been the dominant player in oil exploration and production in Sudan. (See Darfur Humanitarian Emergency.)


Issues that received top priority in previous annual reports took lower precedence in 2006.  For example, the commission did not highlight Chinese currency manipulation or Beijing’s control of China’s media and flow of information.

But China’s fulfillment of its WTO commitments remains a significant economic issue in the 2006 report.  The commission recommends that Congress urge the U.S. Trade Representative to “press ahead aggressively” with a WTO case against China “for its manifest failures to enforce intellectual property rights.”  (See China IPR Issues.)

At the press conference, Wortzel said China has “fallen woefully short” of complying with international rules for the protection of intellectual property rights, and called it a “glaring example” of China’s WTO failures.

The United States-China Economic and Security Review Commission was established by Congress in 2000 to investigate, analyze and provide recommendations on the economic and national security implications of relations between the United States and China.

The full text of Wortzel’s statement is available on the commission's Web site.

For more information on U.S. policy, see The United States and China.