Opinion / Op-Ed Contributors

Baucus can bring China to Congress

By Paul Haenle (China Daily) Updated: 2014-02-28 07:23

One issue that has moved to the fore is cybersecurity, especially in the aftermath of a February 2013 report from US cybersecurity company Mandiant. US House members introduced nine bills focused on cybersecurity in 2013. This year, Congress is expected to debate new legislation that seeks to make critical updates to US cybersecurity laws, including changes that begin information sharing about cyber threats and better protect national security, commercial infrastructure and consumers.

In debates in Beijing, Baucus can play an important role in drawing a clear distinction between traditional forms of espionage, which seek to uncover political and military secrets, and trade and commercial cyberattacks that threaten US security and economic prosperity.

Congress will also decide this year whether to grant Obama trade promotion authority - leverage to negotiate trade agreements with the understanding that final agreements will not be amended and their implementation expedited. Without this authority, passage of the Trans-Pacific Partnership will be seriously jeopardized. The TPP has been the critical trade and economic component of the Obama administration's rebalance to Asia.

Nevertheless, Congress will vigorously debate the passage of trade promotion authority, and Baucus has a key part to play. He should highlight the importance of the TPP and other China-related security issues to members on Capitol Hill while deciphering the intentions and domestic considerations behind these legislative developments to Chinese interlocutors.

Another area in which Baucus can contribute to enhanced understanding and constructive cooperation between China and Capitol Hill is on outer-space-related issues. A 2011 US appropriations law prevents the US space agency, NASA, from funding activities that are conducted "bilaterally in any way with China or any Chinese-owned company" or that provide for the "hosting of official Chinese visitors at facilities belonging to or utilized by NASA". This has prevented mutually beneficial cooperation in space research and exploration but not stopped China from achieving a notable milestone in space exploration - becoming the third country to complete a soft landing on the moon's surface.

As ambassador, Baucus can draw attention to opportunities for cooperation on global issues on which Washington and Beijing have converging interests, such as space exploration. In the past, congressional focus on China has been infrequent thanks to a shortage of interest in and knowledge about the country. But the US can no longer afford this position because China, prompted by its rise, has adopted a more proactive approach to regional and international diplomacy, and globalization is deepening US-China interconnectedness and interdependence.

Few global issues can be solved in the coming decades without US-China cooperation. Enhancing Washington's and Beijing's collaborative efforts as part of a new type of major country relationship will require stronger understanding, engagement and interaction between Capitol Hill and China. It is thus important that Congress members take a strong interest in foreign policy issues, especially those related to China, and for Beijing to better understand the role and interests of Congress.

Should Baucus use his experience on Capitol Hill to facilitate more constructive interaction between China and Congress, he could very well leave a lasting legacy on US-China ties.

The author is director of Carnegie - Tsinghua Center for Global Policy. This piece is originally published by Carnegie-Tsinghua Center for Global Policy.

(China Daily 02/28/2014 page9)

Previous Page 1 2 Next Page

Most Viewed Today's Top News
New type of urbanization is in the details