tv Rep. Joaquin Castro Discusses U.S. Global Engagement CSPAN October 18, 2021 11:02pm-11:48pm EDT
texas democratic congressman castro chair of the house foreign affairs subcommittee talks about u.s. global engagement at an event hosted by the atlantic council. it's 45 minutes. >> good afternoon and thank you all for joining us today. i'm a senior fellow in the new american engagement initiative a part of the scowcroft center for strategy and security at the atlantic council. this event is part of the future for a policy series that seeks
to elevate new, diverse perspectives on the u.s. foreign policy and builds the core mission which is to develop sustainable nonpartisan strategies to address the most important security challenges facing the united states and the world. today we are honored to be joined by castro of texas to discuss china and the role of diplomacy and public engagement in the foreign policy. representative has been at the forefront of these issues and speaking at the importance of diversity and most recently in proposing a bill that would create an open translation and analysis center to translate important documents from china, russia and other countries into english for public consumption. the conversation today will be moderated by john hudson a national security reporter of the "washington post" and a well-known voice on the u.s. foreign policy issues. we also will have time at the end of the session for audience q&a so if you have questions, please drop those into the
community function and we will get to them at the y end. take it away. >> thanks a lot for that. i'm excited to talk with you today about china, u.s. foreign policy especially on the heels of this new legislation that you have introduced. reading a translation service on the open source documents and news stories coming out of china. this idea is inspired by the foreign broadcast information service that provided translation and analysis in the soviet bloc and other foreign government in the cold war. given the roots of the legislation and the sort of cold war inspiration, do you think that is what we are in right now is basically a new cold war with china? >> it's what we have with of the
soviet union and i don't think it can be the same thing for everyone's sake. but there's still a usefulness for this translation and analysis center to be ableus to understand will only documents keyalso speeches from figures and other sources and we had a similar service as you mentioned in the late 1990s. and i think that in the 1990s with the collapse of the soviet union, there was a a period that we thought the united states would only be the only great superpower from there ever after the only country that would maintain that in the world and now what you have is a very aggressive and resurgent china so there is a usefulness now.
>> it seems like a promise of breaking down the barriers can lead us to better understand the goals. i'm wondering if this is enacted do you think we would then develop a more ominous understanding of the goal or more benignn outlook? y what do you think by this greater understanding of the takeaways for china that we see? >> you broke up a little bit during that question. this doesn't necessarily have to be something that inflames tension towards china. already in the united states and in the united states congress -- also how to compete with china
to define so this could also be a way to achieve greater understanding and understand their perspective and again the challenges that we face for example i don't believe we clearly defined when it is that we should complete, when they are cheating and when we need to call them out on it and finally when we ought to cooperate on certain issues like climate change and security in the world. >> this is no small feat to getting the bipartisan legislation that is happening. both of you have spent time talking about china and the
challenges it represents but you've talked about it in very different ways and characterized the challenge in different ways. you said china is a communist regime that threatens the city that was a remark from just yesterday i believe following the hypersonic missile reports that came out. why do you think, you've made a compelling case for why this translation center should exist. why do you think that your republican colleagues also like the idea of it? >> are we having a technical issue right now?
>> i missed the third question sorry about that. i was saying that you made a pretty compelling case for why they exist. why do you think your republican colleagues support it? >> i think there's concern all around about the posture as a nation and a congress and you're right, if you look around congress, there are people whose posture is very aggressive and wants to punish china for everything they can imagine. their people have taken a more measured approach and want to see where we can cooperate and collaborate but the fundamental basis for any of that i think we should all be able to agree as understanding what china is
actually saying and what they are doing so this isn't just of theequivalent of a google translate. there is also a component and an analysis analyzing if there's a speech given by different chinese leaders understanding thee significant of who the speakers are. so understanding where the pperspective fits in within the chinese government. so it's more the translation of course the second part is very important it's also analysis. i do wonder when it comes to communication and having the best understanding of what's happening between the two countries the fact that now china has more diplomats around the world t than any other couny
is also happening when we have vacancies in key positions, ambassador to south korea, ambassador to france remain unskilled and some have said that a side effect of this is already having miscommunications on issues that happened at that and reached the french after the nuclear submarine deal was announced between the united states and australia. do you think that they have failed to prioritized the diplomatic corps in a meaningful way? obviously you have spent a lot of time on oversight and the state department and that is also a key way of communication and understanding what is going on in the united states. >> over the generation it's been building up the military to make sure that it's the most superior to any military in the world. the united states so far have
been successful in that the military and the department of defense is roughly 30 times the size of the state department and so the state department and the diplomacy are essentially the relationship building part of how we deal with other nations. it represents hopefully the deterrent but also the necessary coercive force so you want that to be the last resort or option. we haven't always prioritized or built up the infrastructure that would allow us to reduce the tension that we are building up alliances around the world to make sure that we are in the strongest position in terms of
analyze and support. and it's interesting you mentioned the number of diplomats. right now there is an imbalance between the united states military positions around the world. so for example, china only has one military base outside of mainland china. they are working very hard to place those military bases and other continents around the world but the united states in that respect still they have done a lot of work to expand their alliances around the world whether it's in africa, latin america or europe and they are doing it very quickly. >> when it comes to diplomacy and who is winning the influence between the united states and china, china has distributed 1.12 billion vaccines according to its own data. and the united states has delivered 190 million vaccines. the chinese vaccines may not be as effective probably but how do
you think they have fared when compared and when it relates to sort of vaccine diplomacy coming out of the coronavirus pandemic? >> i feel among the members of congress that argued we should do more for the world obviously we need to make sure we take care of america and get people fully vaccinated and boosters in people's arms but also that we step up our efforts around the world. you are right, china practiced this vaccine diplomacy and is trying v to leverage the gifting and sale of the vaccines to gain concessions in other areas, whether it's military, economic or so forth and so the united states needs to step up our efforts there there are from different things i've and based on for example nations that feel burned by the way they've
approached this vaccine diplomacyin so it's not like its been 100% rosy for them and how they've gone about it. people do appreciate the united states efforts still you mentioned that big differential and it's something that we ought gap on. the >> congressman, you have been a voice that has been described as a progressive voice on the foreign policy and someone who looks at the u.s. foreign policy as a way there's a lot of thought how we've started to depart from the post-9/11 terrorism posture. a lot of soul-searching as well that the united states has spent trillions of dollars on.
to nation build in the world there's obviously a lot of to teach the united states and there is also concern to pivot to the foreign policy as a way to existential civilizational struggle with china that could make the cost of the war on terror look small by comparison and being proposed including out of congress in terms of new capabilities that will be required to confront china and if we don't have to sort of drape itself over the world. are you concerned at all that
this could result even more on sort of unaccountable spending at the pentagon and the domestic agenda the democrats support could fall by the wayside as a result. a. >> at this point, that is certainly possible and to a great extent even how we spend our military dollars now i don't believe is completely in step with the challenges that china poses militarily. we spend a lot of money on what would be considered mainline weaponry, tanks, airplanes, ships and so forth. don't get me wrong i understand those are necessary but china is engaging on a whole other front of that to me is even more problematic and troublesome and that's the technology front whether it's quantum computing,
artificial intelligence, other innovative technologies that if they are able to break through, the threat to the united states even your best weaponry could be rendered. we need to be spending our money wiser and wiser means we are using up our cyber security. that we are improving our cyber lies and ends around the world and being innovative in the fields that i mentioned in a way that protects the national security of the united states andty our allies. right now in terms of how we spend our military dollars, i haven't seen a strong enough pivot in that direction. i don't think that it's been as aggressive as it should be.
we should keep the spending at the same levels or do you think spending should go down? >> i think that what i would consider more appropriate for the time i think that it should be cheaper. the thing we should be investing a lot of money and rightbe now e cheaper than the things that have cost us more traditionally. and also, i think we have to understand sometimes there is this disconnect between politics and good policies. before i give this example, i don't want to stand here and say i have not gone downno this roa. if you look at my eight years in congress i probably have the a timeor two but military dollad military spending cannot be first and foremost considered a jobs program. as important as it is for different people's districts, that is important to the
community but it's not mostly meant to be a jobs program it's meant to be a national security program. sometimes we have lost sight of that in congress. >> one more question i wanted to bring up is it looks like the current iteration of the bill that you introduced you mentioned this is more than just google translate but many of us have used google translate when it comes to trying to read articles coming out of china. what does $80 million get you about g the google translate and the benefits of this service? >> of course there is a translation for folks that will be familiar with the slogan so
more accurate than the translate but also the analysis is very valuable and right now we mentioned of course china and russia but there is a potential to expand it beyond those nations as well, so the analysis is especially important not just for people in government or the benefits of the state department and the department of defense and so forth in the administration but also to the media, for example. they translated documents and procurement contracts and they were the ones that broke the story on the internment camps so there is a role for this kind of trance analysis that the media does. >> i appreciate you highlighting this issue as well and becoming
more and more important and talked about as we talk about what is happening in china. the other thing that's been on the agenda is the olympics in this decision of what to do with a full boycott, a diplomatic boycott, letting u.s. athletes compete. but when you thought about the olympics what do you think about the united states and how it should approach that issue in china for next year? >> i chair the subcommittee on international development and so i convened a meeting with the u.s. olympic committee and the and notional committee too long ago maybe five weeks ago and asked them some of these questions about the upcoming olympics and specifically being mindful of the fact that we strongly disagree with the human
uyrights issue and making sure e committee doesn't do anything to inadvertently promote any of what's going on there and in the future, for the future bids for example, use or to set certain guidelines on things like human life and other issues for the nations that are bidding. so we don't get a situation where nations are being perceived as being rewarded even though the committee as an has d just human rights behavior. >> do you care about climate change? president biden cares about climate change. it's pretty clear some of the biggest problems when it comes to climate change are the domestic reviews so the administration has said it is so
critical to cooperate with china or get on the same page when it comes to solving the problem of climate change. the chinese at the same time have said listen, you cannot isolate climate cooperation. we have a very bad bilateral relationshiper with china and until that improves, we are not going to have successful cooperation on climate. given the problems and dynamic, how does the united states get to a place given all that is going on? >> the challenges on the development it's also one of the leaders in the world and indeveloping alternative energy and clean energies so they have a very strong economic interest
in promoting that energy around the world and then i believe ultimately moving there themselves and we have seen some of that so that provides an opening also working for multilateral institutions not just in a bilateral way but multilateral like the paris climate accord to get us all moving in the same direction. i'm not under any illusion that it's going to be easy or simple or solved in just a matter of a few years, but it is absolutely essential given the threats of climate change. another issue that i think we ought to work on together is the issue of climate refugees for example. there's been no international or american standard set for what he climate refugee is and that is one area that i believe china and the united states with other nations in the world can work together to acknowledge that people migrate because of climate events and they should be offered protection in the way that we offer production to peopler who suffer from politicl
persecution. >> do you believe that the united states can on a daily basis or weekly basis or monthly basis condemn in strong terms like genocide with talking about china condemn on human rights and hong kong and taiwan and all of the other issues we disagree and still have a productive relationship when it comes to climate? >> talking about the two countries that at least historically have the same level of emission and so we've got to be able to cooperate on an issue like that that canab serve not only the nations of the world but you're right it is a thorny relationship and the congress i feel and the united states
government hasn't fully defined each of those categories that i mentioned. and then the areas we can cooperate in. i feel like we are getting closer but i still don'tar feel like we are fully there. >> do youha think that in some cases the united states might have to modulate its rhetoric in some ways or is this an issue where standing up on human rights where we do have such strong differences is an absolute and any other way would be a disappointment and fall short of our values to the country? i think we have to lead with our values. this freedom, democracy and protecting human rights, so we shouldn't waiver. we negotiate and have conversations with them then
obviously we try to do what it takes to get them to move in a humane direction but in terms of the public posture and standing up for our values to the world, we need to do that. >> the right way to frame the relationship is strategic competition. do you think that is the right framework and if it is, what do you think that winning looks like? >> that is a great question. let me just dig through it. dealing with the world's largest economies it's a relationship that is fraught with irony because they are harsh competitors but they are the largest trading partners. china is the largest trading partner and i'm reminded in the committee a few of my members
across the aisle who have important things so there's a lot of ironies there. ultimately what china is trying to sell isis not only its goods and services around the world and it's not just a matter of other companies going and competing with u.s. or european companies. they are also trying to sell their goodwill and form of government and authoritarianism and murder of there are no
strings attached. they are not going to sanction you financially for example whereas in the united states we are promoting our values and democracy when we engage with nations we expect them to uphold certain values. that is the competition that you face in dealing with china that is state capitalist but also spending a lot of money and building up around the world. >> i appreciate those answers. i'm going to hand it over for
thee q-and-a's to get the rest in. the last thing i want to ask about is how has the administration reacted to your legislation and with the prospects are for the passage at this point. >> we are working really hard of it. it's a very positive and we've reached out for guidance to different administrations on how they would do something or another within the legislation. i'm an associate director and now we are going to start the questions to continue the
discussion first i would like to go back to the initiatives earlier. the translation sensor sounds like a good idea. how will they complement and if i could go on with a question along the same lines, there are already multiple resources in the state department to include the engagement center that provides the constant analysis
so do what degree do they coordinate? that is often times that isn't readily available in the way that the information coming out would be. to make it much more accessible to people in government but also the american public including people in the media and to our allies around the world including analysis that would be very helpful to all those different groupsl and understanding china were to get a perspective on china in a way that wouldn't otherwise be able
to. >> there was a spending problem in the state diplomacy. to offset the translation center to theom diplomacy operation. a. >> my hope is that it would be separately funded. to not necessarily cannibalize anything else although i do want to get the recommendation of the folks on exactly how we do this it wouldn't be to go cannibalize something but to make sure that we have at standalone center to provide this valuable resource.
>> one thing that is important within the stateta department ad how would it be different and whatff would it take to actually achieve diversity? >> it'sly been very difficult or the years. to speak at our diplomatic corps they still do not fully reflect the diversity of the nation and in particular in the civil service should reflect the nation's diversity when diplomats from around the world and when others see an ambassador representing the united states or somebody in a u.s. consulate it isn't just a matter of people from different backgrounds were different skin
tones it's important that people see that and there's a valuable impact that people working together can bring so when i took over as the subcommittee chair last term i convened a different affinity group at the state department and ask them how we getar a more diverse stae department, so we spoke about diverse candidates because we have a lot of folks that come in the door that don't stay for 15 or 20 years so how you recruit better and do their job at promoting folks as well and it's imperative that they get this
right. >> i would be curious to know what you think about that issue between the congressional oversight of the foreign policy. i don't believe every individual should have the power that they do. there's too much power to a single individual. if it's a group of five or whatever number it may be if it is clogging up the system for allies around the world for
those in place then we are dealing with all of these very challenging issues with her it was the withdrawal from afghanistan and now the aftermath of that and the relationship with china engaging after the trump years re- engaging with europe and nato all of these things require personnel and ambassadors and others to the extent you have a senator like ted cruz from texas who is denying the administration and the country not just political but big denying the country of key appointments, key personnel is
>> what would you like to see in the way that the states communicate with congress and viceul a versa? >> that is a great question. he made himself available a few times now to congress. the department i think has made an effort during this term. again i thought that the previous four years the department was in a very defensive mode. you had a mass exodus of people and many diplomats who left the department and so it was always from my perspective on the committee some kind of turmoil or another so this has been a rebuilding process and assessment of where we are we do
need to work on key components and that is why many of us have done work in the last few years on the reimagining of the state department for the next ten, 20 yearso and so forth and so to answer your question what i hoped they would work with us on is making sure that it's not just reimagining the department, but we start taking affirmative steps to rework the department. diversity is one of the issues but doing a better job in terms of retaining people and allowing folks and midcareer to also join the state department not because we want to allow outside people to leapfrog any of the well-qualified candidates in the state department but i think you have to allow a way for folks to come into start so different ways we can reorganize the state department to make sure it is completely modernized for the
times that we are in. >> how do we go about doing that and are there any specific areas [inaudible] >> there's incredible opportunities. in fact the other day we had state and local diplomacy and the fact that one of the things we can do is a federal government and the state department is d to engage state and local efforts at a subnational diplomacy. if you think about it with other organizations there's an incredible infrastructure of national diplomacy's that goes on in the country every single day so we have to be able to tap into that in a much better way and then engaging american
companies and others in terms of development work and the best and brightest ideas taking on the world's development challenges. it's disbanded under the trump administration or broken up into different pieces in the state department some of the ways we can engage the private sector on the diplomacy and development.
end up waking people up. it's about putting a technological infrastructure in place to protect your networks and systems and build alliances to the same thing. so that is what happens is that we are woken up by a huge devastating attack on the critical infrastructure that is crippling and all of a sudden now everybody's discovering the
importance on this other piece. >> thanks again for being here with us. [inaudible]. that is a very wide-ranging one. it's imperative the united states rebuild and i think this conversation helps us understand some of the ways we might do that so i'd like to thank you for joining us today. the confirmation hearing for the u.s. customs and border protection begins live at