CCTV America’s interview with Ambassador Susan Rice


Ambassador Susan Rice

CCTV America’s Wang Guan interviewed U.S. President Barack Obama’s National Security Adviser, Ambassador Susan Rice,  about China-U.S. relations and future cooperation between the two countries. 


Wang Guan: Ambassador Rice, recently you went to Beijing and laid the groundwork for President Obama’s visit to China. What are the expectations of the administration for President Obama’s state visit? What does the U.S. hope to achieve this time?

Susan Rice: We are very interested in trying to expand and deepen our cooperation in areas of mutual interest, on global issues, for example, working together on climate change, dealing with issues of regional concern like Iran and North Korea, strengthen our economic ties, including increasing U.S. exports to China and arriving at an agreement that can solidify the bilateral investment treaty, and we also obviously have interest in strengthening people-to-people ties and military to military ties. So, where we can cooperate with China, the United States has an interest in doing so, and I think China does have a similar interest in cooperating with the US where we have overlapping interest and there are many such areas. Where we have differences, our interest is in speaking about them frankly and clearly and managing them responsibly.

Wang Guan: I heard there will be some informal interactions this time around in Beijing, pretty much like the Sunnylands. What can you tell us at this point? What are those informal features? What does the U.S. expect these informal interactions between the two presidents to affect the dynamics of the relationship?

Susan Rice: Our view is that it’s helpful when leaders of important countries have not only a business relationship but get to know one another a bit more personally. So in Sunnylands, when President Xi visited, they did have something of an opportunity to spend time together without their respective teams. In Beijing we are looking forward to doing the same. There will be opportunities for them to have some private time. As leaders, they will have some smaller meetings and smaller meals in addition to the normal and formal program.

Wang Guan: You brief the president every day and you are pretty much at the center of the president’s foreign policy making. Can you help us understand, where do you and the president see and categorize the current state of the U.S.-China relationship? Is China perceived as a growing partner or a rising competitor?

Susan Rice: We view China as one of the most important bilateral relationships that the United States has in the world. Because of China’s size, because of the integration of our economies, because of the importance of our ability to cooperate on global issues and to deal with issues of regional and global security. So this is a very complex, multi-faceted and important relationship. We view China as a country with whom we would like to work to the greatest extent possible where our interests converge. Where we differ, and there will inevitably be areas of difference, we think it’s important that we manage those differences carefully, responsibly and openly. But we have been able I think to speak openly about those and to exchange views and to respect one anther’s approaches.

Wang Guan: There is a perception that the underlying driver of the U.S.-China relationship is its increasingly intertwined economic and trade ties, yet on the military and security sides, the mutual trust still has room to grow. Do you share that sentiment?

Susan Rice: I think there is room to grow on all sides of the relationship and that’s a good thing. That means there is upside opportunity. But on the military to military side, in fact, in recent years, and particularly over the last couple of years, our ties have strengthened. And the cooperation is growing. So we’ve done some joint exercises together. We are sharing more information. And we are working together to build confidence-building measures that enable us to avoid, to the greatest extent possible, any unexpected and unintended conflict.

Wang Guan: One security both countries face is anti-terrorism. Domestically, China faces a radicalized group called East Turkestan Islamic Movement. It claimed responsibility for the Tian’anmen square attack last year, causing 40 civilian casualties, and earlier this year a train station stabbing incident in south China causing 140 casualties. How does the United States characterize those attacks?

Susan Rice: We’ve been very clear in condemning all forms of terrorism. We’ve condemned these attacks in the same vein. Obviously our hearts are with the people who suffered, and the victims and their families. We are very clear in opposing terrorism in all of its forms, wherever it may arise. We think this is an area where the United States and China ought to be able to intensify their cooperation, whether dealing with the new threat that ISIL poses or other global and regional terrorism challenges.

Wang Guan: Many are asking at what level and through what specific programs will China and the U.S. work on combating the threats of terrorism.

Susan Rice: We’ve invited China to play an increasing role in fighting the stuff that ISIL poses. We have a joint interest in stepping up our cooperation to build a peaceful and stable Afghanistan but also to deal with the threat of terrorism from that region. So we do think there is real scope for China and the United States to do more together to deal with genuine threats of terrorism.

Wang Guan: You talked about Afghanistan. By the way, will the U.S. troop withdraw proceed as planned by the end of 2014?

Susan Rice: Yes.

Wang Guan: Is the U.S. concerned that given the instability in Afghanistan, especially in the  south, the withdraw may somehow leave vacuum for the emergence of another radicalized group such as ISIL?

Susan Rice: The United States has been very clear and in fact the whole NATO coalition that at the end of 2014, there will be a transition. Our combat operations will end and yet there will be a remaining American and NATO presence for a period of time to train, advise, and assist the Afghan forces so that they can continue to build up their capacity. They are now providing security around the country. They will need to do that over the long term and we will continue to support them. At the same time, our presence will also be there to deal with any terrorist threats from remnants of al-Qaida.

Wang Guan: There has been talks about, on the conceptual level, a new pattern of major power relationships between China and the United States. What’s the administration’s current interpretation of that very concept?

Susan Rice: I think it’s very much like what I said in this earlier discussion, we view the U.S. relationship with China as one of the consequential and important relationship in the world. We aim to deepen and strengthen our cooperation across a broad spectrum of areas where it is in our mutual interest. And we think there are many such areas, economic, security, diplomatic, global health. There is a broad range of areas where we can and we should cooperate more. But we also think we have to be clear and forthright about where we differ and work to manage those differences responsibly so they don’t evolve unnecessarily into confrontation. That’s how we view this relationship and we think there is potential for a great deal of progress.

Wang Guan: On climate change, having covered this bilateral relationship for a while now, it’s not hard to see that China-U.S. cooperation on climate change has happened at an accelerated pace in the past two to three years. What are the considerations behind this and what will happen this time around?

Susan Rice: The United States and China are the largest economies and the largest emitters. So going into the very important U.N. conference next year in Paris on climate change, countries are going to have to decide how they are going to approach their obligations in this new era that will be negotiated. So the United States and China have been discussing what we will contribute to the global effort to manage climate change. We are also very actively exchanging technology and insight as it relates to clean energy. It’s an area where our economic relationship is growing and where we will see real prospects for both economic and political advantage because of the importance both sides attached to improving the environment and dealing effectively with climate change.

Wang Guan: On people-to-people exchange, one of your folks told me that you went to China way before you became a diplomat, right?

Susan Rice: Absolutely.

Wang Guan: Tell us about the experience.

Susan Rice: I visited China in 1987. I was a gradate student studying in the United Kingdom. And I visited China with the man who is now my husband. We weren’t married at that time. We spent more than a month back-packing around China. We started in Beijing. We went to Xi’an, Shanghai, Guilin, Guangzhou and a number of other places. It was a very extensive trip. We traveled very cheap in trains and buses and the like. But it was a great opportunity to see China at a very different stage of its development.

Wang Guan: As President Obama’s top foreign policy adviser, how do you see the administrate can improve people-to-people exchange, to help Chinese and Americans, average citizens, to truly break stereotypes and truly have more nuanced understandings of each other?

Susan Rice: This is a very important area for our relationship. As you may know, there are some 235,000 Chinese studying in the United States. There are an increasing number of Americans studying in China. The president made a commitment, set a goal back in 2009 that within four years, we will have had 100,000 Americans studying in China. We called that initiative “100 Thousand Strong.” We’ve met that goal. I think as more and more Americans and more and more Chinese have the opportunity to study and work in one anther’s country, learn the culture and the language, the ties between our two peoples will only grow and the potential of the relationship will grow accordingly.

Wang Guan: What’s your expectations on the role of the APEC summit? What issues can be discussed and solved at this Beijing summit?

Susan Rice: As you know, the APEC summit is primarily about strengthening trade and investment ties among the Asian Pacific countries. So we come with an interest in trying to make progress on important agreements, for example, the WTO information technology agreement. That’s an area we are looking to see progress among the nations assembled. We will look forward to discussing a full range of trade and investment issues in Beijing at APEC.

Wang Guan: On Syria and ISIL. It’s reported that in early October, defense secretary Chuck Hagel wrote you a memo, criticizing the administration’s measures on ISIL, and said quote, “The administration should have sharper view on what to do the Assad Regime.” Is that true?

Susan Rice: It’s true that he wrote a memo. It’s not true how you characterized it. The memo largely asked a series of, I think, very relevant questions about policies both related to Iraq and Syria with the aim of trying to pose these questions. So we do, as we often do, take a fresh look at various aspects of our policy and try to adapt them to developments on the ground. So it has been basis for some discussion and it is something that we are working on with both our approach to ISIL in Syria and Iraq.

Wang Guan: Thank you very much, Ambassador Rice.

Susan Rice: Good to see you. Thank you.

Wang Guan: Thank you for your time.