PREPARED STATEMENT OF ADMIRAL JOSEPH W. PRUEHER (RET.)
BEFORE THE SENATE FOREIGN RELATIONS COMMITTEE
THURSDAY, OCTOBER 28, 1999
Mr. Chairman, members of the Committee, it is my honor to appear
before you today as our nation's nominee to be ambassador to the
People's Republic of China. Like each of you, I am grateful for the
opportunity to serve.
Though not diminishing the importance of our other global alliances,
partnerships, and relationships, I believe that the United States'
relationship with China is at or near the top of the list of
international challenges as we enter the next century. There are two
prospects. On one path, we can have a responsible global neighbor that
copes with its own daunting challenges and adapts to inevitable
change. The alternative path is one of enervating confrontation at
every turn and resulting slower progress on issues of importance to
both our nations. The chance to have some positive impact on our
relationship with this burgeoning nation of over one-fifth of the
world's population is why I am before you today. I hope to do my part,
together with all branches of government and our private sector, to
help create a climate that builds on our common interests with China
and yields solutions to the differences we have between our two
nations. This factor overrode all others in my family's decision to
say yes when asked to accept the nomination for this post.
Mr. Chairman, my understanding of the basic decision before the
Committee in this hearing is, "Do we want to approve Prueher to be the
person who, day-to-day, in a hands-on way, represents our United
States to the People's Republic of China, and will he advance well our
interests?" That question is yours to answer, but here is what I think
you will get with me:
1. A citizen dedicated to our nation and its founding ideals and
morals, who has nearly 39 years of military service, who has served in
combat, and who has always tried to promote our nation's security.
2. A person who has had the opportunity to lead organizations from
small to large.
3. A person who supports the notion of comprehensive security, that a
nation's sense of security comes from the right combination of
political, economic, and military underpinnings. As well, someone who
thinks the foresight of preventive defense is the most effective way
4. A person familiar with Asia-Pacific security issues at both a
practical and personal level and familiar with many of the
Asia-Pacific region's political and military leaders.
5. One who has studied hard our issues with China over several years;
important too, you get someone who has the benefit of frequent counsel
from people who have invested decades trying to understand China's
people and their methods.
6. A person who believes we should deal with China from a position of
political, economic, and military strength, balanced by respect for
the challenges facing China. A person who recognizes the challenges of
governance in providing food, clothing, shelter, jobs, energy, and
water for a population of over 1.25 billion people, yet believes
immense challenges do not accommodate or excuse abuses of human
7. Someone who knows several key Chinese leaders and has hosted and
been hosted by them. As well, someone who has participated in both
acrimonious confrontations and constructive discussions with the
People's Liberation Army leadership.
8. Someone who has not had the benefit of visiting Taiwan. Owing to
the timing of this nomination, I declined an invitation to visit the
people on Taiwan. Nonetheless, my admiration for their progress and
economic and democratic institutions is manifest.
9. One who is committed to our nation's interests, and who sees a
secure Asia, and China's responsible role in it, as being one of those
Many issues between the United States and China beg serious attention.
The most complex of these is the peaceful resolution of differences
between Taipei and Beijing.
There is also the core importance we attach to respect for human
rights, which contrasts with documented abuses in many areas and
facets of China-ranging from political repression to cultural,
religious, and ethnic repression in Tibet. There is our mistaken and
tragic bombing of the Chinese embassy in Belgrade and damage done to
our embassy and consulates in China by Chinese rioters. There also
remain some differences over the terms of China's accession to the
World Trade Organization. This list is but a sampling, and these
issues must be worked in a steady, unrelenting way.
Our nation has a long-term, common interest in a stable, secure,
prosperous Asia-Pacific region in which China is a major, responsible
player. We and the world need a China that can work with Taiwan to
resolve cross-Strait differences peacefully, that participates fairly
in global markets, that produces and consumes manufactured and
agricultural products, that works cooperatively with us on matters of
mutual interest. Our nation would like to help China move itself to
democratic institutions and open markets -- both key characteristics
of successful nations.
If I am confirmed, I hope to work on these issues, to help create the
foundations for resolving them, to improve the tone and content of the
dialogue between our nations, and to be the bridge to the next
administration. Also, improvement of our embassy and consulate
facilities and adequate housing for U.S. government employees in China
will be a high priority. I look forward to consulting with the
Congress on these issues and, if confirmed, to encouraging both
personal and Congressional visits to China.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I welcome the Committee's questions.