Defense Department official briefs media on China military, security developments

Channel: Fox Business
Published: 05/03/2019 03:48 PM

Assistant Secretary Randall G. Shriver holds a press conference on U.S. intel regarding China as strained relations between the two countries persist. FOX Business Network (FBN) is a financial news channel delivering real-time information across all platforms that impact both Main Street and Wa...

Hey, ladies and gentlemen, welcome lieutenant colonel davis byrne, i'm the spokesman for asia, pacific security affairs here at the pentagon, defense defense, press operations, i'm gon na go over some ground rules really quick. First and foremost, this is on camera on the record. So i need to remind everybody to remove their badges. Please. Having said that, this engagement is about the 2019 dod r ...
port to congress on the people's republic of china. I ask you focus your questions on that you'll. Once you're called on you'll be given one question with a possible follow-up, ast shriver will be making the decision on who to call once he calls on you, please state your name and your outlet clearlyand. This is a 40-minute session and ast has a tight schedule this afternoon. So just know that we're gon na be sticking to that. Do you have any questions of me before i go: get asd shriver, okay, really, quick! It'S a its assistant secretary of defense, randall g, shriver and i'll spell that for you, it's ra n da ll g is in gulf shriver, sch, ri, ve, r and he's the assistant secretary of defense for indo, pacific security affairs. Okay, there's no questions be right back so good morning. I want to thank you all for being here today for the department's brief on the 2019 report on military and security developments involving the people's republic ofchina.

This annual report is the authoritative statement from the united states government on military and security developments involving china, as the national defense strategy lays out strategic competition with china will be the primary concern for the u. s. national security for years to come. Assistant secretary for indo, pacific security affairs, randall shriver is here to discuss china's security and military strategy with you, and he will provide some opening remarks and i think lieutenant colonel eastburn will help facilitate the engagement this morning so with that. Okay, thank you good morning. As was noted yesterday, the department of defense submitted our annual report to congress, which we refer to as the china military power report and this reportis our authoritative statement on how we view developments in the chinese military as well as how that integrates with their overall strategy And, of course, this relates directly to what we do here at the department of defense in our implementation of our national defense strategy, which states that the united states will compete from a position of strength while encouraging china to cooperate with the united states on security issues. Where our interests align so a few things to comment about the report. First of all, with respect to some of the military developments, we continue to see that china seeks to erode us military advantages and seek to gain and maintain influence, and it's backs these ambitionswith significant resourcing, which translates into real capabilities and capacity. Our 2019 report finds that in the coming decades, china seeks to become both prosperous and powerful, and the report notes that china has a stated goal of becoming a world-class military by 2049. Some of the specific areas of modernization china continues to grow. Its inventory of df 26 intermediate-range ballistic missiles, these missiles are capable of conducting conventional and nuclear precision, strikes against targets both ground and naval targets in the western pacific and indian oceans. China has begun construction of its second domestically built aircraft carrier in 2018.

Their first domestically built aircraft carrier will likely join the fleet this calendar year and, of course, these carriersfollow a foreign acquired carrier. In 2017 and 18, china launched its first four wren high class guided missile cruisers this, as well as having several more under construction. We expect that the wren high will enter operational service this calendar year. This cruiser class will be china's premier carrier escort for blue water operations, carrying an array of long-range anti-ship cruise missiles. We also noted at the zhuhai airshow this year. In november, the pla air force conducted a demonstration of its j-20 fighter. It'S fifth-generation, most modern fighter, equally important to the equipment. China in 2018 published a new outline for training and evaluation, and this publication emphasizes realistic and joint training across all warfare, domains and tasksthe pla to prepare for conflict aimed at quote strong military opponents. There also continues to be continued emphasis on civil military integration under the civil military integration initiative. China'S leaders are incentivizing the civilian sector of the economy, to enter the defense market to achieve greater efficiencies, innovation and growth. Our part also talks about china's continuing use of cyber theft. It'S targeted investment, it's exploitation of private chinese nationals, access to foreign, military technology all to support its modernization goals.

In 2018, we saw specific efforts targeting such areas as aviation technologies and anti-submarine warfare technologies. We also see china continue to pursue global access and and increase its global military footprint they, alongside its military modernization theyseek to have the ability to affect security along china's periphery and beyond. We believe china will seek to establish additional military bases overseas, as well as points for access press reporting. In 2018 indicated, china sought to expand its military, basing and access in the middle east, southeast asia and the western pacific regarding some strategic developments, and it's important to note that all these developments occur in a larger context. China'S leaders are leveraging their growing diplomatic economic, as well as their military clout to secure china status as a great power and with the aim of becoming the preeminent power in the indo-pacific. In 2018, china continued to implement long-range state-directed planning, such as made in china2025. The challenges the economies of high-tech exporting nations to support china's development, including indirectly its military development they're, also leveraging the one belt one road initiative to enhance its global role and to shape other countries interests so that they align with china after noticing the made in 2025 And one belt, one road have caused some concern. China'S leaders have softened their rhetoric and have sought to rebrand to some extent. However, the fundamental goals of these programs have not changed. As our report describes, china conducts influence operations. We have a special section of the report that addresses that targeting media culture, business, academia and the policy communities in the united states and other countries. It'S alsoimportant to note, as our report does, that last year, the chinese communist party, central military commission, took sole authority of the people's armed police.

The people's armed police, of course, is the primary force for internal security and, of course, our concerns are significant when it comes to the ongoing repression in china. The communist party is using the security forces for mass imprisonment of chinese muslims in concentration camps. With respect to china's approach to some regional disputes, we're concerned that china's leaders continue to take actions that erode the rules-based order and that they're willing to accept friction in pursuit of those interests. The report finds that china continues to employ tactics designed to fall short ofarmed conflict and accomplish its its objectives and its goals along its periphery. In a so-called gray zone approach in 2018, china continued its militarization in the south china sea and has been widely reported, placed anti-ship cruise missiles, long-range surface-to-air missiles and jamming systems on some of the outposts in the spratly islands, this violated a 2015 pledge made by general Secretary xi jinping in the rose garden of the white house when he stated that china does not intend to pursue militarization of the spratly islands. China also continues to use coercive economic measures, both its economic tools, as well as its military tools to advance its interests and to mitigate opposition for from other countries for examplein 2018, china used economic coercion by reducing overseas trade and tourism in an effort to influence domestic Politics and political institutions in countries in oceania, including australia and palau, with respect to taiwan, china's overall strategy continues to incorporate elements of both persuasion and coercion, and overall is destabilizing not only to taiwan but to the entire region. Bowing to chinese pressure in 2018, the dominican republic, burkina faso and el salvador switched to diplomatic relations from taipei to beijing. The chinese communist party seeks to diplomatically isolate taiwan by stripping away its diplomatic allies. It also applies economic pressure by cutting tourism and redirecting investment, and it seeks to undermine democracy in taiwan by meddling in its electionsand. While china publicly advocates for peace unification, china has never renounced the use of military force and continues to apply pressure through its posture. Its increasingly provocative exercises and operations, our report also talks about us-china military-to-military relations, while the national defense strategy emphasizes competition, we certainly don't see conflict with china and it doesn't preclude cooperation where our interests align. We continue to pursue a constructive results, oriented relationship between our countries and it's important part of our regional strategy to have stable, constructive relations with china and a relationship which mitigates the risk of incident or accident.

So this all sets a framework in which we're operating and, as i said up front, our national defense strategyis, aimed at dealing with these challenges. You'Re familiar with the pillars of our strategy seeking to increase the authority of the joint force, strengthening partners and allies and reforming the business practices of the department of defense. Much of that will put us on a better posture to compete effectively and deal with these challenges. So with that look forward to your questions, i will eat a bell door with 18. I just wanted to get your more detailed assessment on china's cyber activities. The us has, for a number of years now talked to them spoken, taking steps to try and mitigate some of this is it getting worse, are any of the actions u. s. is taking havingany impact at all, and if not, what can the u. s. do about this? To stop the effects on technology's feeling, i would say the threat and the challenge is persistent. The chinese remain very aggressive in their use of cyber. What'S changed is our level of awareness and the steps we're taking to reduce our own vulnerabilities and working with partners and allies to do the same, just two quick questions, one is you mentioned the that the chinese were using concentration camps? Could you explain why you use that terminology and then also separately on taiwan? There'S been an increase in the pace of transits of us warships through the taiwan strait? The french recently participated in operationcould.

You explain. What'S behind the increasing frequency and the expansion of the types of ships and countries that are participating on the first point, the detention camps, given what we understand to be the magnitude of the detention, at least a million, but likely closer to three million citizens. Out of a population of about 10 million, so a very significant portion of the population what's happening there, what the goals are of the chinese government and they're their own public comments. Make that a very, i think, appropriate description with respect to taiwan. The taiwan strait is international water, we transit it as we see fit the chinese transit as well, and we don't object to their transitsbecause. It'S international water for for the use of all seafaring nations, and so we'll continue to do that as we see necessary and expect that other countries would do the same as it is international water, lucas, tomlinson. Fox news: can you explain in what area of chinese china's military they've made the most gains they've had a very aggressive modernization effort that goes back at least two decades. So they've made progress in a number of areas, i would say they're power projection through ballistic and cruise missiles is an area. They'Ve made tremendous progress and they continued to develop enhanced capabilities in those areas. But really it wouldn't be limited to that and i think in particularlyin new domains they've invested a lot in cyber space, hypersonics ai, so we're seeing a very aggressive modernization effort, backed by resourcing for almost two decades they've had near double-digit growth in their official defense budgets. Their defense budgets might actually be higher than that. So this is a national effort.

That'S resourced very well and it's targeted at them being, as the report says, the preeminent power in the indo-pacific and former vice president joe biden says that china is not a competitor of the united states. What is your response? I'Ll? Stick with the language in our national security strategy, international defense strategy, which identifies china as a strategic competitor. Can you talk about the pla presencein tajikistan and how it influences afghanistan? The i think the chinese have growing interest in central asia in general and they're. Looking for partners that will train with them give them access they. I think they have a variety of interests there. That may include afghanistan, but i think they have broader interests in central asia. I know the russians are also paying attention to that, and that could be a source of some friction there. We we certainly don't begrudge our friends and partners in central asia for wanting a relationship with china, but we would suggest that they keep an eye on what china's ambitions actually are and what kind of influence they're trying to exert givenincreased access. And it's the chinese military strategy to defeat the united states military conventionally, or do they believe they would have to use nuclear weapons? In order to do that, i think, as our report outlines, the chinese strategy is to supplant the united states and become the preeminent power in the indo-pacific. They also have known interests in, in particular, contingencies, potential contingencies, east china, sea taiwan, south china, sea that they prepare for as well as on their land borders. So we think they are directing their efforts at sea at trying to prevail in those known contingencies, and that would likely involve dealing with the united states in some form. Given our commitments in the regiondave martin, the cbs, do you expect china to continue militarizing? I don't know what steps china will take beyond what they've already done.

I think those steps at militarizing the outposts are designed with a certain aim and they seek to operationalize an illegal expansive sovereignty claim basically everything inside the nine-dash line or the entire south, china sea. So what we do about it is we fly, sail and operate. International law allows we're increasingly joined by other countries to make sure that no one country can change international law in international norms that that water remains international water, in other words, making that investment that the chinese have made as insignificant as possible, particularly where their coregoal is Aimed at we also do capacity building in the region so that our partners and allies have their own capability to monitor their territory, butts against the disputed territories of the south, china sea, and i think what what we expect china will see. As this unfolds is they've. Taken steps that are destabilizing and in response they're getting more action from the united states, freedom of navigation presence operations joined by more and more countries in terms of presence operations and activities in the south, china, sea. More and more capable maritime asian nations to deal with maritime security and if they continue potentially more cost imposition. As you know, we disinvited them from rimpac, because oftheir activities in the south, china, sea and there could be more cost imposition in the future. The effect is the fundamental nature of the south. China sea hasn't changed. We china has changed some facts on the ground with respect to the land reclamation and the infrastructure on these outposts, but the the effect that the chinese seek, which is operationalizing. This illegal expansive sovereignty claim has not been achieved. Pressure from the prc.

What can the u. s. do to provide more tangible, substantial reports to taiwan and, in particular, what is what is the current progress of the sales of the abrams at f/16? Beef to taiwan in general? Have the us-china trade talks affect this at allso? What we can do to support taiwan is faithful implementation of the taiwan relations act so that, as a number of things included in it that relate directly to the military threat taiwan faces. We do provide taiwan with weapons of a defensive character for their sufficient self-defense. We also maintain the capacity to resist force. Should our national command authority ask us to do so. So we look at our plan. We look at our own posture, our own capability, and we do a number of things to assist taiwan in the defense service area as well. We don't just sell them weapons that are required for their defense. We support training and we support professionalization of themilitary, looking at reserve forces, etc. So we'll continue faithful implementation of the tra is the best mechanism to deal with the with the emerging china threat that they face following taiwan, the f-16 sale. What in the report? What trends in the report either modernisation, tactical or intent trends justify or give provide a rationale for the sale of additional new f-16s, and where does that scale sales stand in terms of the requirements scrub going on sure? Well, i didn't comment on the question on tanks and the possible sale of additional f-16s because we don't comment on potential sales that are still under consideration, but i think the threat environment is that is evolving.

As i mentionedthe report talks about the possibility of the j-20 fighter coming online in 2019, that's a fifth-generation fighter. The efforts to diplomatically politically economically isolate taiwan suggest that they need a boost in their own confidence and need to see the support of the united states and other friends and partners, but the the threat is is clear and evolving, so the air threat surface submarine threat. China'S own articulation of its goals to become a world-class military by 2049, also speaks to some of their ambitions associated with a capability to affect the taiwan scenario. Should their leaders ask him to do so, so we we monitor that and look at the capabilities. That would be appropriate for taiwan'sdefense space question april 9th. The secretary said that china has fielded anti-satellite missiles unit to an operational chinese unit. I didn't see that mention anywhere in your report. Can you square the circle yeah? We do talk about china's space development and their interests. I'M not going to talk about a specific milestone. We'Ve obviously seen them conduct a test in the past and anti-satellite test which salted in the space debris that we're still all living with so well, then it's still there okay, so i don't want to talk about a specific milestone, but we do address in the report. China'S interest in space in their modernization efforts - and we know they have had demonstrated capability inthe past. Yes, thank you dan them off with the washington post economic colonization has been raised.

This is concerned by the pentagon. Broadly when it comes to china over the last several months, the air strips in greenland come to mind as an example. What'S the message to potential partners that are perhaps economically economically in a position where they need financial help, the united states assisted in that case, but they probably can't in every case sure. Well, i think the track record is becoming more and more clear. With china's predatory economics, so i guess one of the messages is. Buyer! Beware: if you're, if you have these development needs and and china is offering solutions, readthe fine print make sure you understand the terms of the deal and make sure you understand the track record. That has resulted in countries losing to some degree sovereign control of their own country, because they're indebted to china and and find themselves under enormous chinese pressure and influence. I think we can offer alternatives. We can also offer alternatives alongside our partners and allies. So in many cases, development assistance can be produced not only from the united states, but us, japan, solutions, u. s. , japan, australia, solutions, etc.

I don't think we're as concerned with the dollar-for-dollar side-by-side comparison with china, because what we offer are clean, transparent, scandal-free approaches that benefit the people of the recipient, countriesnot just a few of the corrupt elites. So we need to brand that and market that, in a way that countries understand that the choice isn't just one potential source of financing versus another. It'S it's a qualitatively different approach that benefits their country a lot more. Thank you. There is tension between us firms that the defense department wants to bring in to the defense industrial base and those firms desire that ax to the chinese market. Can you tell us what the department's message is for those companies about doing business in china? Is it either/or? What would you have to say to those companies? We want a level of awareness for any us company, doing businessin china and, depending on the sector where the vulnerabilities might be, and should those companies have an interest in in doing business with the united states department of defense, be part of the defense industrial base. Understand that there may be potential trade-offs and and starting from a position of awareness, gives private companies who can make their own decisions the ability to balance the pros and cons. I mean, i think we are very concerned about being vulnerable and closing those gaps. It'S been a focus of this department and at some point there might be discrete decision points that companies have to make. But we start from a position of wanting to have a dialogue and spreadingthe awareness and making sure that we understand and the companies understand what those trade-offs may be in the future submarines in that region for deterrence, the the report has two special topics: influence operations and The arctic and we've seen a lot of recent activity on the part of the chinese to suggest growing interest on their part in the arctic. They'Ve released their own policy. They became a observer to the arctic council.

They refer to themselves as a near arctic. State they've announced a polar silk road. They are embarking on the construction of new icebreakers. So it's it looks like there's a lot of ambition and i think it's probably multifaceted in terms of their objectivespotential access to resources, shipping routes. But you mentioned an area that we will watch and whether or not that becomes an access point for safe harbor for strategic asset such as ballistic missile carrying submarines. It is a possibility in the future, and one will watch very closely yes ma'am with foreign policy. Can you tell us what efforts are ongoing to potentially bring china into some kind of new arms control pact? You mentioned irbm sand and other types of cruise missiles, so what efforts are being pursued and what progress has been made? Well, our conversation at the department of defense has largely been about the destabilizing nature of china's developments and and particularly their deploymentsif. You look at how their postured, with their ballistic and cruise missiles, there's a significant percentage. Admiral harris, i think, used to say, 90 % of systems would be non inf compliant if they were in fact in the inf. So we're focused mostly on the destabilizing nature of that of those deployments. How we can adapt and respond to to that environment will work with our interagency colleagues at state department on the white house. If there's an interest in pursuing arms control discussions with the chinese specifically, the report highlights china as the world's fastest-growing arms supplier, with 10 billion, particularly to the middle east, between 2013 and 2017, just as dod specifically concerned about china's growing militarysales in the middle east and How that could impact military-to-military ties when you look at, as you said, access or potentially crowding out the market for u.

s. supplies that our treaty limited, such as drones, ballistic missiles, other things such as that yeah? I think our concerns would be multiple concerns. I think you've mentioned some of them: it's potentially a tool for them to develop closer defence and military ties potentially for future access. Obviously, in some instances there is a competitive aspect to it. We have, of course, a process through which we review foreign military sales, foreign military financing, which is pretty rigorous and and incorporates a broad variety of factors to include the nature ofthe regime. China is less disciplined and so there's a proliferation risk as well too, that that we would regard as not necessarily responsible. So there's there's a variety of concerns. I think the report just notes that, as as a point of fact and something that we'll continue to watch from cnbc as the trade talks continue and given the u. s. deficit, which is largely financed by the chinese and their ambition to develop in the south, china sea, Which sees three point: four million at trillion and trade - i'm just wondering in your calculus. How is the u. s.

set to compete with china, given everyone's bank account sure? So we do talk about a whole-of-government approach in ournational security strategy to the china challenge. We'Re focused, of course, at the defense department on aspects of that, and and we leave it to our interagency partners, to deal with the trade issues and economic issues. I think it is a different environment than when we've competed in the past with other countries or had adversaries in the past, that we do have close economic ties and are very integrated. And so we'll have to take that into account. As we pursue this competition and by the way, when we talk about competition, we don't say enemy, we don't say adversary. Our expectation is, we can compete and not spiral into a conflict or any kind of military confrontationso. We have an expectation that we can address the trade imbalances and the unfair trade practices while we're competing in the security sphere. Can you discuss china's footprint right now in the arctic? How many icebreakers patrol brogues boats, research stations that do they have right now? That'S now you're you're, getting into some very specifics i may have to may have to return to you on, but they are investing in all of those areas, including the large icebreakers. They have one in the fleet, that's operational and i believe they have two more under construction. But i want to check that fact and then the smaller ice capable patrol craft. So, as a general matter, it's ait's an area of interest of theirs that we've seen them pursue through resourcing and through their activities, including diplomatic activities such as joining the arctic council. As an observer and again, we think they have multifaceted objectives, resources, commercial routes, potential, strategic interests, but the very specific numbers i can get back to you on our we're adjusting to china.

Increasingly using its coast guard and militia maritime militias interfere with u. s. naval operations. We were less interested in the color of the hall than the activity and the actions, so what we're most interested in is china behaving in a manner that's respectful of international law and norms and behaving in a manner that is not destabilizing andis more constructive, so we're Less interested again, if it's coast guard maritime militia or classic gray, whole navy if the design is to infringe upon the sovereignty of another country to provoke to, in the with the objective of creating some sort of tension that results in a favorable outcome. For them. Any of that is is more concerning than the color of the whole china in base taiwan, where us military to help to defend their work. Our law says that any threat to taiwan is, and it's a broad definition of threat to include economic threats, blockade, etc would be regarded with grave concern in the united states, and the president would consult with the congress onan appropriate response. I think our history is clear: when taiwan hasn't been threatened, the us has responded in an appropriate manner to help support taiwan, so i think in the future we would, i think it could be well expected that we would want to see taiwan be able to preserve Its its status free from coercion, but the specific response would be that product of that consultation, as our law directs us to do. In that event, the chinese stated goal is to become a world-class military power by 2014 or if the u. s. is the definition of a world-class power. Does that mean china? Despite all this erosion, the us military advantage? China is still decades behindi.

Think, as our report points out, there they've had substantial progress in niche areas, so i think they have areas of excellence such as ballistic and cruise missiles. There'S areas where they're making rapid progress cyber and space. I think the report also suggests where they do need more work, and we do look at that as a department. There are things that we do in terms of training in terms of sophisticated integration of command and control and and intelligence that they're not quite there. Yet the training is not as complex as ours, so there are things that that they would need to work on in order to achieve that status. But there there are certainly areaswhere they've made a lot of progress, and i would i would describe as a niche areas of excellence. Well, our report talks about it and we note that they've tested a hypersonic glide vehicle. It'S certainly something that we're concerned about our budget request this year, for example, talks about the need not only to defend against potential developments by other countries, but invest our own research and development in those areas. So it's definitely something that we're tracking and trying to account for chinese. The chinese have as many advanced warships and submarines and large bombers as the united states. Well, in some instances, just the total numbers it wouldn't be difficult for them to exceed. But whenyou talk about the number of advance, so if you're talking about fifth-generation fighters versus four or you talk about the new class of guided missile cruiser, that's come online versus old, older platforms.

I'M not sure i can give you a precise answer on that. I mean, i think our hope is through our own monetization. We maintain the competitive edge. That'S what the first pillar of our national defense strategy is all about, and i would also note that the war fighting environment is changing. We talk about that in our national defense strategy, so our investment in some of these new domains. It may not be such a simple calculus in the future of how many platformsone side has or another it's about maintaining the technological edge which were committed to does china. Now, if a nuclear triad, you suggested in your report that the gym class is operational if they actually done deterrence patrols, and is it accurate to say not china's one of the three nations on earth with an operational nuclear triad yeah, i don't think i'd be prepared To use those words, but we're certainly tracking what they're doing with the with the ballistic missile carrying submarine. And it looks as though without getting specific about a timeline that they're heading in that direction toward having having capable delivery systems in those three domains. To have a true triad involves doctrine, involvestraining a lot of things, so i stay away from a specific point in time, but there's certainly something there heading towards. Thank you, the wall street journal. You said that the the color of the holes of the chinese ships doesn't matter as much as the activity. Does that mean that the u.

s. military considers chinese coast guard and chinese people's maritime militia ships to be military vessels? And, if so, is that are they considered to be so at all times is a threshold that they have to cross to be considered as such? No, as i said, it depends on the activity with respect to how we regard them. If they're engaged in provocation or infringement onanother country's sovereignty, particularly our allies, then we would treat them differently than if they were doing what we would regard as more normal coast guard activities or we don't have necessarily the equivalent of a maritime militia but peaceful activities. So i'll just leave it at the statement i made we, we were more concerned about the activity and the action rather than the color of the whole, so china has a significant involvement in venezuela. Are there significant matters about china's involvement that the department is concerned with and how is the department looking to counter such involvement? I think i'll leave the questions to venezuela to right now, our state department and white house and our southerncommand, which i know that the secretary just spoke to a group just before this session. So i'll leave it at that. You mentioned costs for the militarization of the outpost and that china have not been invited to rimpac. Do you see that continuing that that down the road china will not be invited to participate in rimpac this year coming years down the road and what other you mentioned? Other costs is there some other type of cost that you see imminent? What i meant in that remark was that cost imposition is sort of part of the toolkit. I don't know that there are any plans to invite china to rimpac the next session of it butin. The toolkit, we cannot only do the phone ops, the presence operations, the capacity-building but cost imposition, and it doesn't necessarily have to be on point. China does something in the south, china sea. We do something in the south, china, sea cost imposition can be something else.

As long as we're tying it to their activity in the south china sea, in a way that they understand, please find me after we back in the thank you.

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