Participation in a Workshop on China’s National Defense White Paper
On August 25, 2019, a delegation from the Egyptian Council for Foreign Affairs (ECFA) participated in a workshop to discuss the white paper recently issued by China on its National Defense policies. The Workshop took place in Sofitel hotel in Cairo with the participation of the new Chinese ambassador to Egypt, Liao Liqiang as well as a delegation from the Chinese Ministry of Defense, which presented the paper.
Director of the Council, Ambassador Ezzat Saad, had earlier received the Chargé d’Affaires of the Chinese Defense Attaché in Cairo Colonel Liu Jia, and his deputy Fu Xiao at ECFA headquarters on August 25, 2019, as he requested the participation of Ambassador Saad and a number of ECFA members interested in Chinese affairs in the workshop. Accordingly, members of the Asian group were invited to participate, in addition to fellow ambassadors: Hisham Al-Zimaity, ECFA Secretary General, and Coordinator of the Standing Committee for Asian Affairs, Aly El-Hefny, as well as Mohamed Noman Galal, Reda Al-Taify, Dr. Ahmed Hafez, and Prof. Dr. Mohamed Kamal, members of ECFA.
1- In his presentation of the main features of the White Paper, which is the tenth edition of its kind, the head of the delegation of the Chinese Ministry of Defense, Director and Spokesman of the Ministry of National Defense Information Bureau, Wu Qian, pointed out the following in particular:
The workshop held in Cairo comes in the framework of the importance of the book’s theme, as well as the specificity of their relations with Egypt in all fields, including military and security cooperation.
The white paper addresses the various aspects of Chinese defense strategy “in the new era” as envisioned by President Xi Jinping in light of the foreign and security policy foundations that he outlined amongst his various initiatives, especially with partners in Africa, Arab countries and other world regions.
The paper highlights China’s efforts to modernize the People’s Liberation Army (the Chinese army), in line with the new phase under President Xi’s era.
2- In his intervention after presenting the features of the book, Ambassador Ezzat Saad made some general observations, referring in particular to the following:
It is in no one’s interest, whether China or the United States, the outbreak of a war between the two great powers.
The growth of Chinese military capabilities, especially the navy, has become a major concern for the United States and its NATO allies, especially in the Asia-Pacific region, which is the region in which the US-China war scenarios are likely to occur.
Chinese reactions to the US escalation against China in the recent period are considered calm and wise. Meanwhile, the US is taking deliberate steps through which it seeks to send a message of dissatisfaction to China, but it does not provoke aggressive reactions against Beijing. All what the United States has done recently is to increase the frequency of dispatching warships across the Taiwan Strait and conduct military exercises under the pretext of protecting freedom of navigation in the South China Sea, which is what France and Britain are doing as well.
Many countries do the same as China to protect their security, but the problem is that the United States holds accountable for intentions.
At the end of his remarks, ECFA Director raised a question about whether China is ready to join negotiations between the United States and Russia in order to conclude a new treaty to replace the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF) from which the US withdrew on August 2, especially since, among the reasons for the withdrawal – according to the Americans – China possesses most of the missiles prohibited by the treaty while it is not a party to it.
3- The head of the Chinese delegation commented that he fully agrees that the Sino-American relations are “stable” and not as the media portrays the problems between them, however, these will not lead to a military confrontation according to them. He also indicated that there is a hotline between the two countries’ Defense ministries as well as regular bilateral consultations, however, errors cannot be ruled out, despite the existence of other mechanisms for mutual reporting, especially for major military operations, and that there are restrictions and written instructions regarding possible clashes between Chinese vessels and their American counterparts.
The Chinese official concluded that he worked as a defense attaché in Washington, and that “the American mind prefers cooperation over confrontation.”
As for the possibility of China joining negotiations on a new treaty to replace INF, the Chinese official emphasized that his country will not join any negotiations in this respect, as the capabilities of China in this regard cannot be compared with those of Americans. For this reason, he added, they condemned the US withdrawal from the treaty.
4- In his intervention, Ambassador Hisham Al-Zimaity praised China’s role in peacekeeping operations across the world, especially in Africa, stressing Egypt’s appreciation for that, and hailing Egypt-China military and security cooperation.
Ambassador Al-Zimaity raised a question on whether there is a Chinese strategy to confront the United States in its military support to Taiwan (the recently announced $ 8 billion deal) and the encouragement of the West to Hong Kong residents to rebel against the Chinese administrative authority. The head of the Chinese delegation replied that the white paper contains answers to all these queries.