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«China’s Assertive Behavior Part One: On “Core Interests” Michael D. Swaine (I am deeply indebted to Rachel Odell and Tan Weilu, Carnegie Junior ...»

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Moreover, Hu Jintao delivered a speech in the run-up to the passage of the Anti-Secession Law wherein he spelled out “Four Nevers” vis-à-vis Taiwan and declared that “safeguarding national sovereignty and territorial integrity is where a country’s core interest lies.” “President Hu sets forth guidelines on Taiwan,” Embassy of the People’s Republic of China in the Republic of Hungary, March 5, 2005, available at http://www.chinaembassy.hu/hu/xwdt/t185890.htm.

See Cary Huang, “A Bolder China Asserts ‘Core’ Interests But Will It Act?” South China Morning Post, August 12, 2010, OSC CPP20100812715004. This articles cites Professor Jin Canrong, associate dean of Renmin University’s School of International Relations, as stating: “There is consensus within Chinese diplomatic circles and think-tank scholars that the term [core interests] will apply to only two categories— territorial integrity and sovereignty—at least for the moment.” For recent examples, see Liao Lei and Hou Lijun, “(Foreign Affairs) Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesman Zou Gang: We Expect More Positive Results from Obama’s China Visit,” Xinhua, November 10, 2009, OSC CPP20091110062018. The article states, “In response to a question about whether a specific statement will be made during this visit about meddling in Taiwan and Tibet, [Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesperson] Qin Gang said that clear stipulations and promises are set out to address these issues in the three Sino-US joint communiques and this is also an important political foundation for forward development of the Sino-US relationship. To allow the Sino-US relations to move forward in a healthy and stable manner, the United States must abide by the three joint communiques and respect the core interests and major areas of concern on both sides” (emphasis added). Also see “Hu Jintao Holds Talks with US President Obama,” Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the People’s Republic of China, November 17, 2009, available at http://www.fmprc.gov.cn/eng/wjb/zzjg/bmdyzs/xwlb/t628187.htm. This official PRC account of the Obama-Hu talks in November 2009 reported Hu’s stating that “to respect the core interest and major concern of each other” was necessary for strategic mutual trust.

For similar statements by senior Chinese officials made during the George W. Bush era, see “ (10/05/04),” (“Yang Jiechi, ambassador to the United States, delivered a speech on current Sino-U.S. relations in Arkansas,” press release of the Chinese Embassy to the United States), May 10, 2004, available at http://www.fmprc.gov.cn/chn/pds/gjhdq/gj/bmz/1206_22/1206x2/t431003.htm; “,” (“Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi talks with U.S. secretary of state Condoleezza Rice,” Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the People’s Republic of China), September 24, 2007, available at http://www.fmprc.gov.cn/chn/pds/wjb/wjbz/zyhd/t365879.htm; “ ‘,” (“Consul General Zhang Yun attends the opening ceremony of the ’ Forum on China-U.S. relations and on China’s Peaceful Reunification,” Consulate General in Los Angeles), November 25, 2007, available at http://www.fmprc.gov.cn/chn/pds/gjhdq/gj/bmz/1206_22/1206x2/t434377.htm; and “,” (“State Councilor Dai Bingguo meets U.S. secretary of state Condoleezza Rice,” Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the People’s Republic of China), June 30, 2008, available at http://www.fmprc.gov.cn/chn/pds/gjhdq/gjhdqzz/mzblwelm/xgxw/t470540.htm.

For examples, see “,” (“State Councilor Dai Bingguo meets U.S. secretary of state Condoleezza Rice,” Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the People’s Republic of China), June 30, 2008, available at http://www.fmprc.gov.cn/chn/pds/gjhdq/gjhdqzz/mzblwelm/xgxw/t470540.htm; “,” (“Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi talks with U.S. secretary of state Condoleezza Rice,” Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the People’s Republic of China), September 24, 2007, available at http://www.fmprc.gov.cn/chn/pds/wjb/wjbz/zyhd/t365879.htm; “,” (“President Hu Jintao meets U.S. president Bush,” Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the People’s Republic of China), November 21, 2004, available at http://www.fmprc.gov.cn/chn/pds/ziliao/zt/ywzt/zt2004/hjtlatinamerica/t171122.htm; “ ” (“Foreign Minister Li Zhaoxing meets U.S. secretary of state Powell,” Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the People’s Republic of China), October 1, 2004, available at http://www.fmprc.gov.cn/chn/pds/gjhdq/gjhdqzz/mzblwelm/xgxw/t163077.htm; “,” (“Tang Jiaxuan Meets with Condoleezza Rice,” Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the People’s Republic of China), July 9, 2004, http://www.fmprc.gov.cn/chn/gxh/wzb/zxxx/t142558.htm;,“,” (Ding Gang, “Tang Jiaxuan Meets U.S. Secretary of State,” People’s Daily), January

Swaine, China Leadership Monitor, no. 34

21, 2003, 3rd edition, available at http://data.people.com.cn.; and “Foreign Minister Tang Jiaxuan Held Talks With Powell,” Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the People’s Republic of China, February 25, 2003, available at http://www.fmprc.gov.cn/eng/zxxx/t19583.htm.

A PRC Ministry of Foreign Affairs report states that Obama “urged both sides to respect each other’s core interests” during the Hu-Obama meeting of April 2009 on the sidelines of the G20 Financial Summit in London. However, this report was not an official statement, and the official U.S. statement on the meeting found on the White House website does not mention any reference by Obama to “core interests.” For the Chinese Foreign Ministry report, see “Chinese President Hu Jintao Meets with His U.S.





Counterpart Obama,” Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the People’s Republic of China, April 2, 2009, available at http://www.fmprc.gov.cn/eng/wjdt/wshd/t555783.htm. The Chinese version is available at http://www.fmprc.gov.cn/chn/pds/ziliao/zt/dnzt/hjtzxdecfhesg/t555457.htm. For the White House report, see “Statement On Bilateral Meeting With President Hu Of China,” The White House, Office of the Press Secretary, April 1, 2009, available at http://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/statement-bilateralmeeting-with-president-hu-china.

See Joint Communiqué of the People’s Republic of China and the United States of America, Issued in Shanghai, February 28, 1972, available at http://beijing.usembassy-china.org.cn/uploads/images/ yJIG2IXkWU8gk1uq4Cx1tw/1972_Joint_Communique.pdf; and U.S.-PRC Joint Communiqué, August 17, 1982, available at http://beijing.usembassy-china.org.cn/uploads/ images/QjyEUD4z2TG3AW9PIy5tRA/1982_Joint_Communique.pdf.

See “,” (“Vice Foreign Minister He Yafei answers questions on U.S. arms sales to Taiwan in an interview,” Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the People’s Republic of China), January 9, 2010, available at http://www.fmprc.gov.cn/chn/pds/wjb/zygy/t650637.htm; “U.S. Arms Sales To Taiwan Detrimental To Sino-U.S. Relations,” Commentary, Xinhua, January 11, 2010, OSC CPP20100111968162; “Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Ma Zhaoxu’s Regular Press Conference on January 26, 2010,” Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the People’s Republic of China, January 27, 2010, http://www.fmprc.gov.cn/eng/xwfw/s2510/2511/t654019.htm; “Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Ma Zhaoxu’s Regular Press Conference on February 4, 2010,” Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the People’s Republic of China, February 5, 2010, available at http://www.fmprc.gov.cn/eng/xwfw/s2510/2511/t656333.htm; “,” (“Permanent Mission to the United Nations and New York Consulate General held a joint spring conference,” Consulate General in New York Press Release), February 4, 2010, available at http://www.fmprc.gov.cn/chn/gxh/mtb/zwbd/jghd/t655935.htm; “The Embassy Hosted Farewell Reception for Ambassador Zhou Wenzhong And Mme. Xie Shumin,” Embassy of the People’s Republic of China in the United States, February 19, 2010, available at http://www.chinaembassy.org/eng/zmgx/t659074.htm; “FM: China Firmly Opposed To U.S. Moves That Undermine Ties,” Xinhua, March 7, 2010, OSC CPP20100307968053; “Premier Puts Forward Proposals for Closer ChinaU.S. Ties,” Xinhua, September 23, 2010, OSC CPP20100923968145; “Foreign Ministry urges U.S. to respect China’s core interests with credible steps,” Xinhua, March 7, 2010, available at http://english.people.com.cn/90001/90776/90883/6911113.html; and “China, U.S. agree to respect ‘core interests’: diplomat,” Reuters, April 6, 2010, available at http://www.reuters.com/article/idUSTRE6360FT20100407.

U.S.-China Joint Statement, January 19, 2011, Washington, D.C., available at http://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2011/01/19/us-china-joint-statement.

Thomas J. Christensen, “The Need to Pursue Mutual Interests in U.S.-PRC Relations,” United States Institute of Peace Special Report, forthcoming. See also “AIT Chairman Raymond Burghardt Press Roundtable Taipei,” American Institute in Taiwan, January 25, 2011, available at http://www.ait.org.tw/en/officialtext-ot1102.html; Susan V. Lawrence and Thomas Lum, “U.S.-China Relations: Policy Issues,” January 12, 2011, available at http://assets.opencrs.com/rpts/R41108_20110112.pdf; Bonnie Glaser, “U.S.-China Relations: Obama-Hu Summit: Success or Disappointment?” Comparative Connections, January 2010, available at http://csis.org/files/publication/0904qus_china.pdf; and Shih Hsiu-chuan, “Opinions differ on US-China statement,” Taipei Times, January 22, 2011, available at http://www.taipeitimes.com/News/taiwan/archives/2011/01/22/2003494135.

Swaine, China Leadership Monitor, no. 34

China uses the following terms and phrases in discussions of both its “core interests” as well as issues that it defines as its core interests, such as Taiwan, Tibet, and “sovereignty and territorial integrity” ( ):

(must stand firm, be clear-cut, have • courage to fight, and never trade away principles) (never compromise) • (never yield) • (not yield) • (never tolerate) • (never agree) • (never allow)—in Anti-Secession Law • (never waver)—number 1 of Hu’s “Four Nevers” • (never give up)— number 2 of Hu’s “Four Nevers” • (never change)— number 3 of Hu’s “Four Nevers” • (never compromise)— number 4 of Hu’s “Four Nevers” • (no room for maneuver) • (no room for compromise) • (no room for compromise or concession) • (no room for haggling) • (will never have the slightest hesitation, faltering, or concession) • (will never at any time trade off its sovereignty and • principles) (brooks no division) • For the most notable (among many) examples of official statements, see “President Hu sets forth guidelines on Taiwan,” Embassy of the People’s Republic of China in the Republic of Hungary, March 5, 2005, available at http://www.chinaembassy.hu/hu/xwdt/t185890.htm. This is Hu Jintao’s so-called “Four Nevers” speech. The Chinese version is: “,”, March 4, 2005, available at http://www.fmprc.gov.cn/chn/gxh/tyb/zyxw/t186259.htm. Also see, “Speech at a Meeting Marking the 60th Anniversary of the Victory of the Chinese People’s War of Resistance Against Japanese Aggression and the World Anti-Fascist War,” September 3, 2005, available at http://www.fmprc.gov.cn/eng/zxxx/t211664.htm; “Getting to Know the Real China: Statement by H.E.

Wen Jiabao, Premier of the State Council of the People’s Republic of China, at the General Debate of the 65th Session of the UN General Assembly,” September 23, 2010, available at

http://www.fmprc.gov.cn/eng/topics/wenjibaochuxi65jieUNdh/t761353.htm (Chinese version:

,“,”, available at 65, 2010 9 23 http://www.fmprc.gov.cn/chn/gxh/mtb/gjldrhd/t755356.htm); and “Xu Caihou’s Visit To Promote SinoU.S. Military Relationship,” Jiefangjun Bao, October 28, 2009, OSC CPP20091029705005 (in this article, Qian Lihua, director general of the Foreign Affairs Office of the Ministry of National Defense of the PRC, stated that “China will never compromise on issues involving such core interests as territorial sovereignty and national security.”) See Deng Xiaoping, “Speech at the Third Plenary Session of the Central Advisory Commission of the Communist Party of China,” October 22, 1984, Selected Works of Deng Xiaoping, volume 3, 1982–1992, ed. People’s Daily Online, available at http://web.peopledaily.com.cn/english/dengxp/vol3/text/c1280.html.



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