Exclusive interview with Evan Medeiros of US National Security Council


Evan Medeiros of the National Security Council sits down with CCTV America’s Xuejiao Wei.

CCTV America’s Xuejiao Wei held an exclusive interview with Evan Medeiros, the senior director of Asian Affairs for U.S. National Security Council at the White House on Thursday. Medeiros discussed U.S.-China relations, the upcoming National People’s Congress and National People’s Political Consultative Conference in China, and relations between China and Japan.

Medeiros on US-China relations:

CCTV America: The “new model of great power” relationship between China and United States has been talked about for a while after U.S. President Barack Obama visited China last year. Do you have any new understanding or definition of this concept? How do you evaluate the effect of this new relationship?

Evan Medeiros: Right now The U.S.-China relationship is in great shape. Beginning when President Obama met President Xi for the first time formally at Sunnylands. We agreed that we would going to develop our relationship defined by corporation on regional and global challenges while affectively managing our differences. And I think that we have achieved a lot in that regard in the past several years. In addition, we also agreed that we did not believe the conflict was inevitable between China and United States, a rising power and an established power, and we agreed that we would work to make sure that rivalry didn’t become inevitable. So that’s the basic framework for our relationship, and we think we’ve succeeded in accomplishing that in recent years.

CCTV America: For the long term, does the White House have any specific developing strategies with China? In other words, what kind of relationship is the White House seeking with China?

Evan Medeiros: Well, we are seeking a relationship defined by more and better cooperation on regional and global challenges. So on issues like North Korean and Iran, on transnational challenges like climate change and Ebola, we want to work together with China, because we think when the U.S. and China work together, we can make a significant contribution to these challenges. At the same time, we recognize that we’re two countries with very different histories, political systems, social systems, and as a result, we have differences — that’s normal and natural — but we have to make sure that we manage these differences in a way that doesn’t put us on a pathway toward long-term rivalry, or it doesn’t destabilize the relationship. So it’s expanding corporation on the one hand, managing our differences on the other hand, and maintaining a commitment to upholding international rules and norms. That’s the broad strategic framework, and to the extent that building a new model means anything, that’s what it means.

CCTV America: Chinese President Xi Jinping is going to visit the United States this year in September, his first official here. You were one of the earliest planners for their Sunnylands meetings in 2013. What expectations do you have? The White House released this information six month ago. What are your comments on his upcoming visit?

Evan Medeiros: Well, the White House is very excited about President Xi’s state visit later this year. I was one of the first people to work on the Sunnylands initiative. I can remember sitting at my computer, writing the very first paper that we were going to hand to Chinese Ambassador Jiang Yesui, that would outline this new innovative initiative of inviting China’s new President Xi Jingping to Sunnylands for this really historic meeting between the two. And Sunnylands demonstrated that when you get the two leaders together, that they can have a very strategic, long-range conversations. That they can come to very effective compromises, and they can also find ways to manage areas where we disagree. So we found that having high-level meetings is an important aspect of managing the U.S.-China relationship, and making sure that we stay on a pathway of working together on global challenges. So we were very pleased with the President’s visit to Beijing last year, China’s hospitality was absolutely wonderful, the quality of the conversation was of historic proportions, and then of course as you know, there were some very major announcements: Our agreements on climate change, our agreements to work together on Afghanistan, to improve our military-to-military relations — these are significant agreements that help to build this relationship — this new model — that we sometimes talk about.

Medeiros on China’s upcoming NPC and CPPCC meetings

CCTV America: I know you’ve stayed in Beijing for some time,and you are familiar with the annual NPC (National People’s Congress) and CPPCC (Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference) sessions. This March, the annual sessions will start again. What expectations do you have?

Evan Medeiros: Well, the two big meetings are internal Chinese meetings, and we wish China and Chinese government well in conducting these meetings. As you know, our position is we support a stable, prosperous China. We think Xi Jingping’s initiatives of the Third Plenum reforms, the Fourth Plenum reforms related to the rule of law, are important. We’d like to see steps to support those initiates taken at the two big meetings. So, we wish the Chinese well, and we hope that these meetings further advance the Fourth Plenum and the Third Plenum.

CCTV America: Chinese President Xi Jingping has proposed the “Four Comprehensives”. How do you think this set of principles will impact China’s current policies?

Evan Medeiros: We think any initiatives by China that advance market reform, along the lines of the Third Plenum, advance the use of rule of the law in all aspects of Chinese governance and Chinese society, is a good thing. So we think that any initiatives that are going to advance China’s work in these areas will be a significant contribution, and it will help the U.S. and China work together more.

Medeiros on China-Japan relations and the 70th anniversary of World War II

CCTV America: This year marks the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II. Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has said he will express remorse for the war. What are your thoughts about this?

Evan Medeiros: Well on the history issues, our view is that we should always be mindful of history, but we should look forward, we should promote healing, and we should make sure that we’re advancing our key bilateral relations in the region. As you know, the U.S. is an ally of Japan. Japan is a close friend of United States, and we think their track record and their contributions over the last 70 years to the international system — their support for democracy, freedom, human rights, international institutions — has been excellent. And so, if you look at the current status the U.S.-Japan relationship, that’s a perfect example of the strength and value of reconciliation. Look at the current state of U.S. relationship with Vietnam,another country that we had a war with. Vietnam is very rapidly becoming a good friend of United States as well. So, we think that all countries should be honest about history, and that includes China, but we should focus on the future, focus on reconciliation, take positions and policies that promote that kind of reconciliation. We think that Prime Minister Abe made some very important statements on January 5th, where he talked about remorse, and talked about his view on history issues. And we want to encourage that… We welcome those statements.

CCTV America: You mentioned Japan is an important ally of the United States. In terms of facing history, how does the Obama administration communicate with the Japanese government in winning the trust from its neighbors, and what kind of suggestion do you have?

Evan Medeiros: Well, when it comes to talking about history issues with Japan, we talk about them in the same way that we talk about them with China — in so far as we think countries need to be honest about their history, they need to be focused on looking forward, how to heal, how to focus on reconciliation, and taking a forward-looking viewpoint. And when we look at the contributions that Japan has made over the past seven decades, we think that this is a country that understands that acceptance of democracy, human rights, freedom, international rules and norms, is something that helps the entire international system and contributes to global peace and stability.

CCTV America: Did you see the news that a major U.S. publishing company rejected a request by the Japanese government to change textbooks over the comfort women issue? The writer said that this was the first time that a Japanese government representative lobbied him to do that. Do you have any concerns over this issue?

Evan Medeiros: I’m not familiar with that issue, and it would not be appropriate for me to comment on the activities of a private U.S. publisher. But my point is simply, let’s focus on the future, let’s try to resolve these issues, and let’s try and take steps that going to promote prosperity, stability, security in northeast Asia. Because there are a lot of history issues. There are issues between Japan and China. There are issues between Japan and South Korea. And these are all a constrain on our ability to solve problems and to ensure that the Asia Pacific is the engine of growth in 21st Century.

CCTV America: Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is going to visit the United States in April, and he is going to make speech in Congress. Some analysts have said that former Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi Koizumi was refused by Congress because he visited the Yasukuni Shrine several times (Many Japanese war soldiers are buried at the shrine while many of Japan’s neighbors call them war criminals). How important do you think the Murayama and the Kono Statements are? (The Murayama Statement was made by Japan’s Prime Minister Tomiichi Murayama in 1995 where he apologized for the damage Japan caused its neighbors. The Kono Statemet was made by Japan’s Chief Cabinet Secretary Yohei Kono in 1993 acknowledging that Japan’s army had been involved in establishing comfort women facilities forcing women into sexual servitude)

Evan Medeiros: Again, our position is that when it comes to history issues, of course we have to be honest about the past, and that applies to every country, including the United States. But if you want to resolve these issues, it’s important to look toward the future, not focus on the difficulties of the past. It’s important to take positions that promote healing. How do we make sure that both sides can move past these issues? Look to examples throughout international-relations history, like what U.S. has with done Germany, like what France and Germany have done, what the U.S. has done with Japan, the process we’re going through with Vietnam right now. There’s lots of examples of ways in which we can move past history issues. And I think that all countries should keep that in mind in order to ensure the history issues are not a long-term constraint. 2015 is going to be an important year, because it’s the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II. It’s an opportunity for all countries in the region to move past these history issues.