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tv   Asst. Secretary of State Testifies on Chinas Presence in Middle East  CSPAN  September 23, 2022 2:01pm-3:12pm EDT

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now, a look at china's growing role in the middle east with assistant secretary of states for international, fares barbara leave. she spoke to lawmakers about china's relationship with iran and efforts to spread china made technology across the region. miss leaf also discussed the biden administration's latest attempt to renegotiate a new nuclear deal with iran. this is just over an hour.
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. we will convene the subcommittee today to discuss china's role in the middle east thank you all for being here with us today. as much as it is possible in an open setting, my goal in the series is to have a frank conversation so that we can appropriately factor china's middle east goals as we write size american goals. the united states has been the dominant power in the middle east for decades. americas deal with regional despots, particularly in the gulf, has long been a pretty straightforward one providing security and exchange for the study provision of oil to the global economy. but for the past 20 years, several of the dynamics that have been in this arrangement have changed. first, back in 1980, the united states relied heavily on energy imports to power our economy. at that time, one third of all oil that we used united states came from the gulf. today the united states produces as much oil as it gets from abroad, and only 9% of these come from golf countries.
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today the u.s. is not totally dependent on gulf fossil fuels, but china is. today more than shine 50% of china's oil come from the gulf states. second, our allies in the gulf no longer honor the deal that was made decades ago, even though we still have a big physical military presence in the gulf, bigger than ever before. we keep giving gulf nations a pass on human rights violations. too often our middle east allies act in conflict with our security interest. recently, for instance, it took a high-profile trip from the american president to react in order to simply convince our supposed allies in the region to produce more oil to address spiraling global prices. and third, today china now leads the middle east more than we do. consider the stunning fact. the value of saudi fuel exports to china has gone from 1.5 billion in 2000, just about two years ago, to 43 billion dollars today. it is no secret why china is
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deepening its ties to the region. it is the chinese economy, not the u.s. economy that has become completely dependent on middle east oil. this year and gives us an opportunity to explore what china's role in the middle east to help us craft a policy that allows us to counter china's influence in the areas that threaten u.s. interest industry. while finding ways to cooperate in the limited areas where interests align. there is no question that china's presence in the middle east presents a challenge that we have to confront with such a large u.s. military footprint in the region, we must ensure that china doesn't get his hands on our most sensitive technology. frankly, that is why i have a post reap selling rubber drones to the uae. and while middle east oil doesn't matter to us as much as it used to, it still matters. so we don't want china to get a monopoly on the middle east energy trade. china is also an attractive power partner to dictators in the region who are looking for
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tools that the chinese have protected. as the world's leading human rights a democracy protector, the u.s. should push back on. that's at the same, time i hope that this hearing considers whether it is worthwhile to approach every middle east issue through a lens of u.s. china competition. for example, china's recent sale of arms drones to saudi arabia doesn't mean that we should rush to provide those drones ourselves. the saudis have a clear record of misusing such weapons towards civilians in and we are right to distance ourselves from these. in addition, china's investments into vanity projects, shiny new cities for e. jean egypt's and saudi arabia, they pose questionable returns for investors. there is no compelling reason why the united states should be seeking to counter china's investments with our own funding. of course there are-limited areas where china and the u.s. share interests. we shouldn't ignore them. for example, both china and united states have a shared interest in securing shipping leads in the gulf. both benefit from an iranian
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nuclear deal to avoid will refer ration. both the united states and china benefit from stability in the region. finally, we should recognize that while china's influence in the region is increasing, it has limits and that the united states commitment to the region, despite much hyped fears of abandonment, continues as we remain the leading security partner for every country in the region except of course for around. we shouldn't be so insecure asked to believe that our partners in the middle east think china can be taken seriously as an alternative to the united states. for example, while the united states preserves the security of the shipping lanes in the gulf as a global public good, it is hard to imagine china acting to preserve anything but its own shipments. and let's face, it if a war erupted between the arab gulf countries and iran, the chinese navy is not sailing to anyone's defence. recognizing these limitations to china's influence gives us real leverage in the region, and we need to use it to reset
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our relationship. for decades, our approach to the middle east has been overly militarized at the expense of economic diversification and inclusive political reform which leads me to my last and most important point, we should not do prioritize political and economic reform priorities in the middle east for the sake of competing with china. poor, corrupt, and on equal societies make for combustible mix that can quickly cause superficially stable regimes to collapse quickly. in the long run, the most able countries are democracies and we shouldn't lose sight of that goal. i look forward to the witnesses testimony today. to learn more about how the state department is diagnosing and taking on this important issue. with that, i will turn to the ranking member for opening remarks. >> thank you, mister chairman for holding this hearing. thank you assistant secretary lee for being here today. i believe that this topic is critical for us to examine as great power competition is not confined to one geographic region. while we rightly seek to
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prioritize countering the chinese communist party we must acknowledge that beijing is not just a challenge in the indo-pacific but also a challenge to our interests across the middle east in africa, and beyond. america's role in the middle east is at a critical moment and our approach to our relationships with our partners will speak volumes to our allies and our adversaries alike. perception is vital and given some of the administration's policy missteps, one can come to an erroneous conclusion about america's role, in ten, and influence in a region where we have traditionally been the partner of choice. the withdrawal from afghanistan, a somewhat nebulous and a pacific policy, and the iran policy that could disrupt the delicate balance of power, restrictive arms policies, the administration's belated embrace of the abraham accords. it is not hard to see how our adversaries are winning these
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threats into a broader narrative of u.s. disengagement. as our perceived light waivers, china seeking to fan theirs into a flame. we already know that the region is key to beijing's economic ambitions. a substantial portion of its overland and maritime trade routes rely on regional access, require not just stability but influence, no matter the cost. a gcc ministerial visit to china january showed that the desire to deepen economic cooperation is mutual. regional governments want to diversify and foreign minister's wang's efforts to continue talks of a free trade agreement on present represent and our opportunity that is to give our gulf partners to pass. up militarily we only need to look at the overtures beijing has made to anyone willing to listen, including both partners and adversaries of the united
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states. since the end of the un conventional arms embargo on iran, china has a new and willing partner who will fled the region with chinese arms, including the proxies intent on the destruction of israel. these example show how beijing have studied our example. and is playing to what it perceives as our vulnerabilities. where america must hold herself and partners to a higher mauro standard, beijing incidences itself with talks of mutual benefits and mutual engagement. this is the ccp party line when partnering with countries at ideological odds with each other. where we must tie u.s. foreign assistance to positive steps in health, human, rights and food security, and any other number of themes, beijing only opens its checkbook. so while the ccp might claim that the countries of the
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middle east should be free from u.s. influence, they are taking every possibly needs to exert their own influence and control. perhaps this might offer an opportunity as its interests in the region grow, chad will not be able to maintain an image of distant objectivity. deepening engagement with ideologically opposed regional players will eventually drag china into a geopolitical quagmire. secretary leaf, i hope you can address these concerns today and answer some key questions such as, what will it take to win that competition? and what can congress do to support that goal? we want to help, all of us. when it comes to national security, we can't afford to spend time playing politics. i believe we are at a crossroads in our relationship with the region. the steps we take now will determine if the administration's actions will permanently alter the geopolitical landscape or reinforce why america have been
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a dependable ally of choice for our allies, there for over 70 years. i am pleased that we are here to discuss such an important issue. thank you, mister chairman. >> senator young, it is now my honor to introduce the honorable barber leave, secretary of state for middle eastern affairs. she has assumed that role in may 31st of this year after an intermittently long formation process. she has served as special assistant to the president, senior director for the middle east in north africa, national security council. she previously served as our ambassador to the uae, which i think was where i first met secretary leaf and various other high-level positions, both in washington abroad including cairo and jerusalem. ambassador leaf, we welcome you to the committee. we asked you limit your opening remarks about five minutes in the rest are just what it will be submitted for the record. >> chairman, chairman murphy, ranking member young, members
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of the subcommittee, thank you for this opportunity to share our assessment of the peoples republic of china news activities in the middle east and north africa. let me first convey on we have the secretary in the department of state as a whole, our deepest condolences on the tragic loss of congress woman but lori ski and her two staff members yesterday. it was stalking shocking and indeed our thoughts and prayers are with the families and loved ones. as we assess china's influence in the region today. in those areas that matter most to our national security we maintain a clear advantage. and that is due to a long legacy of u.s. leadership on social security, conflict resolution, and engaging with partners over the decades and the issues that matter most of the people the regions. the prc's economic ties with the region, as you both noted, reveal growing issues that require attention that action. in 2000, prc trade with the
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middle east and north africa was about $50 million. by 2021 it had grown to -- . that was driven by a no small part by china's appetite for the region's energy and markets. it remains in our national interest, as leader of the global economy, to ensure that the region so that, the energy supply reaches world markets and that sea lanes remain open and secure. the prc has shown neither desire nor the capability to assume that role, and frankly, nor should we wanted to. my concern with this economic trajectory lies into critical areas. and then there is a third set of issues on which we may remain vessel and. first, as the prc's unfair or unsavory practices in delivering and trying to leverage its trade especially in critical areas of research and technology to increase its global engine fairly. that can mean that divide pr,
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or misuse of access to telecoms networks. prc acquisition of infrastructure, ports for example, may open new vulnerabilities for states in the region. my second concern is a longer term impact of the prc study accretion of economic ties and how beijing might use those relationships for political even coercive advantage. there is no question that we are already seeing a more competitive environment in the region for the u.s.. and this creates conditions where the prc can coerce countries on un votes, and support for its position on issues like taiwan, the uyghurs, and russia's brutal war in ukraine. third, and importantly, while china's third military engagement in the region's volatility-limited, there is clear potential over the longer term for economic relations to morph in the direction of more robust defense relationship as the prc markets its military hardware aggressively. and, where prc acquisition of strategic i'm infrastructure goes, there is a potential, almost a certainty for dual use
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or outright military presence. as president biden underscored last month in jeddah, this administration advancing aggressively and affirmative framework for americans engagement in the region. de-escalating regional conflicts, enhancing our partnerships for collaborative work on issues that affect the region, and promoting regional integration in the economic, political, and security terms. and that includes israel. president biden made clear in engaging with regional leaders in july that we are here to stay. we are not going anywhere. and we are certainly not going to leave a vacuum in the middle east for russia, china, or iran for that matter, to fill. secretary blinken has underlined that are pushed, that the challenges offered by the prc globally is to invest, a line, and compete. invest in the foundations of our strength at home, a lot of partners and, allies and harness those assets to compete with the prc. and that means in the middle east as much as around the world. so, we are aligned with partners concerning the critical threat posed by iran,
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on the need to work in common on challenges ranging from climate change, food and water insecurity, contesting the forces of extremism, dealing with fragile states, supporting refugees, and resolving the still unresolved issue of two-state solutions for israelis and palestinians. we are gauging both bilaterally as well as to regional organizations and new structures that we have helped create. the negative forum, is one of them. that will build on the new relationship expanding relationships between israel and arab states. the prc hasn't just been absent from the space that i have just described, in some significant instances beijing has actively acted against the region security, whether in its relations with iran, syria, or its sales of advanced weaponry, ua eased for example, that are used by non state actors against our golf partners and others. so, for all of the region's challenges, the u.s. deepened decades-long strategic cooperation with racial partners remains an asset that no country, certainly not the
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prc, can help to match. but we must remain engaged and continue to demonstrate the collaborative leadership that each region requires and desires. thank you very much, and i'm happy to take your questions. >> thank you, very much. for that candid testimony. i will start the round of questions and then open it up to that committee. i want to talk a little bit more about china's relationship with iran and china's relationship with the gulf. there is this collective recount that happens in the gulf or the united states enters into a diplomatic conversation with iran, our gulf allies sort of deposit to us that it is all or nothing. you are either with us or you are against us. and yet, china seems to be able to have it both ways. china is deepening its ties with iran and deepening its ties with the gulf. china are around doesn't shut its doors as china gets more militarily involved in the gulf.
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is there a risk at some point that china is going to be asked by the gulf countries to the shirqat pick a country each, choose sides, or alternatively why does china get to sort of play both sides while the united states is told that we have to choose? >> so senator, i think i would defer with you on a couple of t key things. now it is true that if you go back eight or ten years at the dawn of the efforts to negotiate the jcpoa, there was a collective freak out. no. question and notwithstanding regular efforts by the obama administration to read the gulf partners into where we hope to go on the eventual jcpoa, there was great anxiety. i would not say that that anxiety is missing as such, but it is, the gulf countries are very focused on the original dimension of what iran is doing,
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and this visit that i just spoke to you by the president is the punctuation point of a body of work for the past year to half and it will provide forward momentum on further such work that goes to assisting our partners with their self-defense, bolstering their resiliency and networking more deeply insecurity defense, intelligence, terms their bill to deal with the threats emerging from iran's provision of armed proxies. it is an irony, i am the first to say that those you avs that those proxies use, they are chinese. they're not provided by the state but the state stop attempts to curtail that flow. i see the gulf states in terms of, they've taken a divot approach to iran. they themselves have channels
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with iran to manage those relationships. we have encourage those diplomatic conversations. are they going to hold china to account? i look forward to that day because frankly china is getting away with murder in some terms. >> second, let me present to you an argument that i find compelling but not persuasive. but i think it is important for us to talk about. and that is this. as china becomes more dependent, exports from the gulf. relative to u.s. dependency, some would suggest that china should in fact pick up more of the tap for regional security. regional security of the gulf may matter more to than that it does to us. and yet, we pick up almost all of that cost. they have a bigger military presence today than they did, but it is still our guarantee in the region that matters so
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is there any constructive role that china can pay play with respect to regional security or should we view this as a zero sum game. any as advantage that china has is a loss to u.s. security interests. >> to be quite frank, as i said earlier i would not want to see china pick up the role that we have had for almost 80. years and securing sea lanes, and the flow of commerce, and energy supplies for the entire global economy it is a big job. it is a big responsibility. i would rather be on u.s. shoulders then chinese shoulders. because that puts the dependency of our own asian partners at risk. in terms of that, those energy supplies. there is a constructive role. china can play a constructive role vis-à-vis iran. but they don't. >> yeah, china could pay play a
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constructive role, they are. which is why i find your argument persuasive. but i think it is important to have the conversation. i will have other questions for a second run but we've got members waiting to ask questions why we'll turn it over to senator urine. >> thank you. china has cemented itself, picking up on the chairman's many questions related to iran and its relationship with china. china cemented itself with one of iran as one of iran's most reliable allies. iran's former policy agenda has focused on strengthening and access of resistance, which means support from another power is vital. chinese oil producers provide iran and economic lifeline as it attempts to circumvent u.s. sanctions. they provide a diplomatic cover for iran as it accelerates its nuclear program and violates its obligation to the iaea. and they have signed
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cooperation agreements that seek to bring their countries closer together economically and militarily in coming years. failing to stand up to china will hamper our long term efforts to prevent iran from acquiring a nuclear weapons capability. we can all hope for that. few questions along these lines. for starters, can you update me and my colleagues on the current to status of china's partners purchases of iranian crude oil? >> senator young, i don't have those precise figures. i will get them for you. but what i can say that this issue, we have just rolled out a third set of sanctions on entities that are trafficking in these goods. we did so on august 1st. we did a previous round in july, and you will see an increasing tempo of these sanctions. but i will get you those figures.
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>> thank you. as it relates to those sanctions, what steps are being taken to ensure stricter compliance with those sanctions and preventing iran from using china to circumvent pressure? >> this is an issue of work between the state department and the treasury department of treasury, ofac. and it is ongoing. there's quite a bit of work being done on an ongoing basis to illuminate the map and then go after those targets. >> maybe we could get an update from ofac or or state. could that be something you could help with? or >> absolutely. >> what has the chinese role been in negotiations towards a return to the jcpoa? does the china iran relationship represent an obstacle towards the biden administration's stated
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objective of a longer and stronger to? >> so, i would say that it has been constructive within the bounds of the p five f one efforts. china has been clear that it would like to see iran and the u.s. resume compliance approach. resumption of the jcpoa. i think my concern goes as much to how china does not pressure iran at the appropriate point so we see kinetic activity. and where we see clear evidence that iran is providing lethal aid, resources, et cetera, to proxies in the regions that are extraordinarily disruptive. but within the bounds of the p five plus one day have been reasonably constructive. . a >> china and iran recently announced a 25 year deal designed to deepen their
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relationship. what is the status of this deal, do we believe that increased cooperation between the countries poses an increased threat to american troops or american allies in the middle east? >> the strategic partnership arrangement was inked last year. i think many of the elements of its would necessarily, they would not be implementable given the structures of sanctions. but it certainly gives a direction to china's prioritization of iran as one of five countries that it sees as key to its own influence in the region. there's no direct threat, as such at this moment to u.s. forces. but it is definitely not good for the region. >> so, are they contemplating
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weapons, co-development, intelligence sharing? if you could just give me a. >> i don't think i have the information for the setting but i would be happy to come back to you in a classified setting to give you more of a read into that. >> okay. i will likely take you up on that. thank you so much, chairman. >> senator -- . >> thank you. thank you for being here. ambassador, today is the second anniversary of the explosion at the port of beirut. and lebanon has had many challenges over the last couple of years. we and it certainly provides for fertile ground for china as they are looking at the middle east. they have been looking at hopefully with the port of beirut. 40% of lebanon sports are owned by china. the head of hezbollah knows rula, has saunas rella, has
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said that lebanon should be looking towards more friendly nations such as china or support. so, what are we doing to try to counter that fertile round for china to make mischief and lebanon? >> you know, senator, we are really actively engaged in on the ground with washington and the government of lebanon, working to shore up what it is a real prospects of state collapse and societal collapse. and china is not, i would say, in the mix at all either in terms of significant humanitarian assistance or economic assistance. and i'd be happy to share with the committee some of the differences in the way the u.s. and china approach the middle east. because it is quite striking. we look at the trade volume,
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port acquisition, and its is striking but it is pretty extracted. it is pretty one-way benefit. and i would say the same thing is true in lebanon. lebanon is not much of a business environment, frankly. the pickings are pretty slim and really, i am not so concerned about the china threat there as i am about the threats to the fabric of society itself. so, our efforts are in terms of getting the government to agree to an imf program which will release funds and sustainable funds to meet their budget and their services. of course we are working on what we hope will be an energy bailout arrangements. and what i will just say is, the ports notwithstanding.
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i don't see the threat to our interests in lebanon coming from china so much as from the perilous state of the state itself. >> one of, obviously i mentioned the port because so much of what we see china doing is trying to control the ports as part of the significant infrastructure in the middle east. and how are we working with the development finance corporation, with the imf, and other agencies, to give countries an alternative? to those infrastructure basements. >> we are doing a number of. things as you say, with those elements we are doing matchmaking with dfc and partner governments. we are also finding other perspectives investors for countries who are being approached by china on ports. so, and we have a number of partners who are very engaged. i don't really want to go into it in the setting but, i can
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tell you that this is not a sort of wide open field and china is the only country with these sport sports and play. they do have, they have acquired stakes in about a dozen ports across the region. but i would also say, the other piece of this is that we are in regular discussions with governments about the risk factors attendance to strategic infrastructure being brought up either in part or in whole by, even private sector, chinese private sector actors. a little private sector actors. because of this military's fusion and plethora of laws. chinese laws that require chinese private sector as well as state owned enterprises, to basically give access to their intelligence and to their military. so we have lit that up for a number of countries, and it has been persuasive. well i think helping us to better understand how we are
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working in those areas is helpful, because i remember a conversation senator murphy and i had with a former prime minister of greece several years ago when china was investing in the port of priorei us. and he said, well we went to the eu and the eu couldn't help us, and we came to you all you wouldn't help us, and so the chinese offered help. so i do think that we have got to be clear that we have to provide help. so countries have some alternatives to what is being offered by china. >> senator murphy, if you will help me to finish responding. we see absolutely eye to eye with you on that, senator. and we are very engaged both in lining up alternatives. but also to really are illuminated the risk factors. and i think going back to the issue of grief, and never of countries around the world. yes. that was sort of going in proposition. why would you turn away free money? i mean, what is not to love about an investor coming in?
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except the other side of that investment, you know there has been debt financing issues around the globe. but there is sovereignty issues. nobody is signing up when they offer commercial port in part or in whole for sale. nobody is signing up for the pla to use that facility. and yet, this is what is becoming clear as a risk for countries. and, unfortunately the other thing that we have going for us in the middle east is sort of a sovereignty neuralgia about things like this. and this is something that we play to, frankly. >> can you explain what you mean more by that? >> well, i would say an acute sense of sovereignty and, especially when. you know, for instance in iraq, a strong sense that national assets our national assets and shall not be even sold off to foreign private sector let
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alone foreign governments. and so, it is a residue, a legacy of colonial history. but it is quite a strong thing and it is something we can work with. >> thank you. thank you, mister chairman. >> senator, van hollen. >> thank you mister chairman and madame assistant secretary, it is good to see you. this is an important topic and i have tried to dig into it. i am going to submit some questions for the record. but i want to use my time to discuss a couple issues regarding americans detained in iran. an american lawyer recently detained in the uae, and what you are doing to try to get to the full truth and accountability in the shooting death of an american journalist in the west bank. all part of your jurisdiction. i am satisfied that the administration is doing everything that i can't gain the release of the americans that are detained in iran. i have less confidence, at least at this moment, that the administration is doing everything it can to ensure due process in that case of a seam
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gap for. as you know, he was tried and convicted in the epstein geo, with no notice of the charges. a lunging muddy laundering. he was then arrested in dubai, on route to a family wedding in is stumble. he has been sentenced to three years and then more. he has been denied bail and denied access to american lawyers. so, in the interest of time, i just ask you for a couple of commitments. will you meet with his american lawyers before the tuesday hearing? and they are willing to make themselves available at your convenience? >> yes, i think i just had, we just got that request yesterday. and yes, i can do. so >> thank you. and could you keep myself and members of the committee posted on the progress, with respect to due process? >> absolutely. as you are probably aware, deputy assistant secretary
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daniel bennett team is following this minute by minute and he is keeping me briefed on this. but, absolutely. >> i appreciate it. and i had a conversation sometime ago with brett maguire go, with the security council. and you know, your former master of the uae. you know a lot of players. i don't think it is outrageous that he has been denied due process. he was arrested pretty much around the time the president within the region. a slap in the face. let me go on to the killing of american journalist shampoo abdullah actually in the west bank on may 11th. secretary blinken has repeatedly called for quote, an independent credible investigation, and for credit accountability. president biden has said the same. just a simple yes or no question, is that still the position of the biden administration? >>? >> the need for an independent credible investigation? >> we have asked that there be a credible investigation.
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>> the secretary is on record a couple of times calling for an independent investigation. that is a quote. >> you know, i will have to come back to you on that, senator. because that has not been my understanding of where our position was. but let me clarify. >> well, i think you will find a number of members varied disappointed that is the case. on june 23rd, 24 senators including senators murphy and xin and others wrote to the president asking for, not only an independent investigation by making it clear that that would require u.s. involvement. and just last week the s stops appropriations bill that was released contained similar language calling upon the administration to have u.s. involvement. on july 12th, a group of s bob subcommittee members including senators leahy, murphy, durbin, and myself, sent a follow-up letter to secretary blinken. have you seen that one? >> i have not. >> i urge you to look at that.
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this is why a lot of us are concerned. a lot of us are concerned that this is not getting the attention it deserves. if you, as a sexist and secretary haven't seen it. we asked for information regarding the report by the u.s. security coordinator. have you seen that report? >> not in full. i have been briefed on it. i was out there, i have been out to speak with our folks several times. and i have been briefed in detail on it. and i followed the course of the u.s. security coordinator's work over the course of five weeks. so i am intimately involved. i've not seen the actual report in the -- and if i just explain, i haven't seen that second letter principally because i just came back into town on the weekend and i have been really focused on this testimony. >> i appreciate that. well, if you could take a look at it. because we ask for a response by last week. so if you can get back to us maybe later today to tell us what we can expect a response
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on that. and we asked for a significant amount of information regarding that report. which, as you know, just able to be a report and the idf report together and then reached some conclusion. so that was not an independent report. i don't think anybody outside it is. if i could just also bring your to your attention to fact that the chairman of the full committee here, senator menendez and senator booker, ambassador senior level classified briefings on the state of the investigation. so, look, i am concerned that the administration is not giving this the attention it deserves. the secretary says things like an independent investigation which, we did say. and we've called for accountability. about an american journalist to got shot and killed. we have expressed our desire and our determination to protect journalists around the world. especially in conflict zones.
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and this is a journalist who is wearing full press regular yeah at the time that your shot and killed. so, there are a number of us who are not gonna allow this to be swept under the rug. and we are looking for answers. >> thank you, senator. i completely take all of your points. i can tell you, the secretary added lengthy discussion with minister, defense minister gantz. i want to say it was a week ago. and he has been pressing for accountability. but i will be happy to come back to you on all of these issues you raised. >> thank you. and thank you mister chairman. i would just say, and independent report does not include apa report. and an independent report does not include in the idf report. that is why members of this committee have asked for american involvement in the investigation. thank, you mr.. chairman >> thank you senator van hallman. let me just confirm that i share senator van hollen's concerns about both having it
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upended report but also seeking accountability for the death of sugary novel actually. also, his concerns regarding the effort to secure due process for a seam before. so i appreciate your commitment to be attentive to both of those matters. i actually want to stay and open it up for a second round. there may be another couple of members who come seeking recognition, as well. but i actually want to stay on uae for a moment. the abraham accords were a success, a victory, for stability in the region. but they didn't exist in a vacuum. they were convinced that were made in coordination with those accords. that should cause us concern. one of those commitments was the sale of f-35s and reaper drones to the uae. the trump administration rushed into that sail without doing the due diligence.
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they have done the due diligence they would have figured out that there was real risk of appropriation of u.s. technology. by china. and that is, i imagine, why we have seen a suspension of that sail by the ban administration. i understand there is a limit to what you can say in an open setting. but i think it is important for us to understand that a basic level why there were concerns about the choices that uae has made. at essence, what they did was choose china's 5g technology over the f-35. and so, maybe you could talk for a moment about putting threat, the compatibility, of golf defense and u.s. system. with our allies can almost make decisions to more fully integrate themselves with
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chinese technology? >> so i would say a couple of things and then i have got to step carefully in the setting. but you are right, the, there were there was a complex of issues attendant to that perspective salem. that where sitting on the desk, as it, were when the administration came into office. and it was one of the first issues on which the administration had to grapple. and frankly, it clearly, the 5g issue was just one of several. one of a list of things that needed much greater clarity. and much better agreement, clear air agreement, detailed agreement on the rules of the road for any perspective sale given the cutting edge state-of-the-art technology that would be at risk by a
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number of things that were in the mix at that time in terms of the uae's defense relationship with china. so, the, as i recall, the 5g pre-existing's and was sort of not factored in, we thought, appropriately into the consideration of the deal. so it was one of the issues. so i would just simply say that more broadly we take deadly seriously the issue of protecting our technology, our system, our personnel. and, thus this issue of huawei and other untrusting vendors is an issue of discussion with us across the region. and we have been pretty successful in pushing it, basically, people out of the direction of purchasing that technology in a number of
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cases. we have not had active discussions recently on the f-35, but that will still be in the mix. there's a number of things, and obviously senators say the to say the least i'd be happy to come back into this in more detail in a classified setting. >> and i would simply encourage my colleagues on the committee, and specifically on the subcommittee to get that classified brief regarding some of the very difficult decision of the administration have to make about technology conflicts in the uae. let me ask one more question. i want to talk about drone technology because part of the sale to the uae is the mq-9s. but i want to back up and talk more broadly about drone technology. this is a nightmare technology in the wrong hands. and it is a competitive landscape in which the united states has technology but the chinese have technology to. often the argument gets lead to
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us, well we need to sell this technology to countries because if we don't the chinese will. and there is no strings that come attach with a transfer chinese drone technology. at least of the united states provides the technology, we will have some input into how it is used. that is a pretty unsatisfying and unsavory answer because often this is just about any owner of the technology being not responsible but less irresponsible if the united states is involved. so, i asked us in the frame of the issue of drones, but you could backup of even more general in the kind of technologies we're talking about. but the question is this, are there's some good reasons, including human rights concerns, that we may not want to sell certain weapons systems into the middle east even if the chinese are an alternative? >> well, i mean obviously q and he has made, q m e is a bedrock
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issue so at any six you have be calibrated in that context. this tension that you cite, senator, you are exactly right. and it can sometimes feel very unsavory. the chinese have gotten more than their foot in the door precisely because a virtual monopoly on drone technology. and they have spread it across the region helter-skelter. and it is condition free. should we be selling it to, should we be selling drone technology to partners? yeah, under careful, scripted, clear rules of the road. but it is a huge problem. but so there are certain technologies that we should not provide and it is a case by case situation. >> and i will just argue that we should be careful to lower our standards when it comes to the use of this technology, simply because the chinese have no standards. senator hagerty?
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>> thank you, mister chair. and welcome myths leave. i just had a good conversation with john michael to, he was very complimentary of your capabilities and your service. i know that the conversation was going on as i came in about huawei. i share concerns with my colleagues about that institution and many like it that are operated by the ccp. in fact, as my previous job isn't ambassador to japan ice but a great deal of time working to get huawei out of the japanese telecoms carriers, and getting the japanese government to agree to have a clean network. it is not inexpensive. it is a lot of hard work, but it is terribly important. at the same time, in the middle east the chinese communist party continues to expand their digital silk road with companies like huawei. expanding systems that connect china with the middle east, africa, and beyond. and i am very concerned with the underseas cables that they
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are lying. again with these chinese systems that make them vulnerable to exploitation. we have i think a very big concern with one of them that i am sure you are aware of. it is the cable that connects pakistan and the east outwork africa with europe. it is known as the peace undersea cable. the peace cable travels underlined from china to pakistan, then it runs from both karachi pakistan and the chinese boat pakistani port of water, to stretch out undersea to various points in east asia, egypt, and europe, before terminating in the south of france. huawei is all over this so called peace undersea cable. and i am very concerned about any ability of the ccp to cut it, disrupted, diverted, to monitor information that our allies might be using. and i want your thoughts, secretary leave, on how you perceive this threat and what you see the administrations options to address it? >> so, i am not well as well versed, frankly, senator on
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this particular technology dilemma or threat before outs. and i will get myself schooled on it. but i will say, more broadly across the region. we are all over this issue of these entrusts adventures in the information and communications technology sphere. and we have been working across the region to inform, illuminate, educate, host governments on the risks. risks to their sovereignty, risk to their security. when they have these entrusts of vendors and their national networks, they've basically given a back door to the chinese government. there is data that, and so forth. so we have had successes and yes there are clearly countries that have bought into huawei. and i remember a couple of years ago, the same sort of fight, argumentation with the uk. this belief that they had at that time that they can fire wall things. and i think people have begun to understand the risk.
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so it is an ongoing effort for us diplomatically. i will look into this issue of the peace cable and how we are constructing our approach on that. but we have been very focused on it as a conserves the national telecoms. >> one thing i would urge you to take a look into his two previous administrations work on the s m w six cable. stretching from singapore to marseille. there's a tremendous amount of work that went into dealing with this exact concern on that undersea cable. and i would just highlight for my colleagues, the ccp has the articulated goal of controlling 60% of the fiber optic cable market by 2025. that is three years from now. and they are going to control it with their own technology. with technologies that we know we should be deeply concerned about. so i would very much appreciate you digging into that, secretary leave. and i have a further conversation about that issue, learn more, and again look at the example of that essentially six as perhaps a way that the
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administration might choose to deal with this. >> i will do so. >> let me turn next to the strategic cooperation agreement between iran and china that was signed in march 2021. it is coming to fruition now. iran has increasingly turned towards china in search of diplomatic and technological support. and this importantly includes cyber security check technology. this calls for exercises, research, development, an intelligence sharing. all of this to fight the lopsided battle with terrorism and cross border crimes. the deepening cooperation between these authoritarian regimes potentially gives china a significant foothold in the middle east. secretary leaf, do you agree that the sort of long term agreement that china is struggling to -- poses a significant threat for united states and our national security assurance? and again, i would like to give your thoughts on what you might do to counter that threat. >> most certainly this is a
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very unwelcome turn of events. it is not entirely surprising. the regime in tehran is itself so so premium who isolated and not just because of our sanctions, it is isolated because of its own actions its own predatory destructive behavior within its narrow broad as well as the larger region so it has, members of the regime have long sort of flirted with the idea that simply turning east, as it were, would allow them to evade all of these problems. so that is the logic of the engagement. enter china, of course, china has i think five strategic partnerships and obviously, to the degree to which tehran feels it has this anchor in a great power, it doesn't bode well.
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it is certainly an issue of concern, and what we have to do is again the hard diplomatic work, the defense, work the security cooperation, until a cooperation. with all of those neighbors, but not just the gulf countries. i mean if this was the logic of the presidents visit. going to israel, meeting with the gcc plus iraq, jordan, egypt, really demonstrating again u.s. leadership. and sort of an affirmative and collaborative leadership with these countries on the range of issues. it does illuminate rather starkly the way china goes about its business in the region. and it is not to the region's. good >> thank, you mister chairman. >> thank. you senator young? or actually, senator sheen, i guess you are next. >> well, thank you mister chairman i will be quick. and actually my question is really off the topic but i
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would be remiss if i didn't take that opportunity since you are before us to ask you about what is happening in iraq and the unrest there and what we are doing to try and help stabilize that situation. >> iraq is a consuming issue of concern for us. we in the department of state at the national security council, department of defense, are in constant engagement with iraqi leaders. i was on the phone yesterday with our ambassador in baghdad. and we are taking in one sense the invitation of various leaders pass to get into the fray and sort things out and put our thumb on the scale in the standoff over government formation. and that is not something that
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we are going to do. and at the same time, we are really leveraging relationships and providing good counsel and above all, counseling these blocks, the kurds are in an impasse as you know. which is part of the whole puzzle. and then you have a standoff between sauter and the coordinating framework. what we want to see above all is the resort to violence. and there was a very tricky 48-hour period there. we are messaging aggressively. i will go out there probably in september to do some more work. but it is a set of issues of consuming interest to us. and we want to do the kind of engagement that puts the responsibility squarely on iraqi shoulders to manage. and to make decisions. >> well i certainly agree with that.
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this is a country where america has spent a lot of blood and treasure. and i think there are a lot of people in this country who care very deeply about what happens in iraq and i am glad that we are engaged. >> this administration is populated with people who served in iraq. i certainly did, and retained a very strong personal connection to the country, but also it is a national security must. it is a keystone country for the region. >> thank you, thank you mister chairman. >> senator young? . what >> i want to ask you a few questions about china in the gulf region. last year there were reports well publicized that chinese was, china was constructing military basing infrastructure at a port site in the uae what is for status to what is for starters the status of that project. >> so this is an issue that i would love to come back to any classified setting.
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all i will say is, beijing has made clear that it has a plan for a global summit of military installations. obviously djibouti was its first such installation. we are keeping a very close eye on this not only in the uae but elsewhere. this is the kind of issue where we are very clear with our partners that economic relationships are one thing, by defense articles is another, but they will quickly run up against the bilateral defense relationship itself. in a certain direction. >> well good. that seems like a pretty direct message and i guess that is someone who needs to be sent. has the administration received assurances from the uae authorities that they have ordered china to permanently halt port based construction? >> all i can say in the setting
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is is that we are making headway on our discussion. but i would be happy to come back to this. >> sure. what about civilian chinese infrastructure projects in the uae and the broader gulf region. do you have concerns that those could be covered for chinese military and security services presence across the region? could you speak to. that >> yes, i do. in the sense that, as i said earlier these -- whether it is in part or in whole -- purchased investment et cetera, it offers an inroad. and by chinese law it must
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offer potential used by chinese intelligence and military. >> are their particular projects that you could point to that are especially concerning or that you are eyeballing? >> not for the moment. >> the wall street journal recently reported that china sought to establish military presence among the african coast, equatorial guinea for example. the effort was just rebuffed at the urging of u.s. officials. given its atlantic coast and its role as both geographic and economic gateway to both european and african markets, do you anticipate attempts from beijing to do the same in morocco? -- >> we are watching all of these locations very closely and we are engaging with governments. as far as equatorial guinea, we may we made very clear to the
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government that certain steps would raise a national security concerns. and that is the kind of dialogue we are ready to jump into with any of these countries. >> okay. i have about 80 seconds left and i understand on the time threshold here. at the naval academy, one of the first things that you learn are the various choke points around the world. the suez canal for generations has been really vital to our national security and economic security, and that of so many others. events there in 2021 illustrates that it can also be an achilles heel. in the event of a serious disruption like we have recently seen to the suez canal, what other fail-safes exists to mitigate risk to the global supply chain? >> okay, i am going to have to take that one back for some scrutiny. because if you are
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talking about blockage of the suez canal, obviously the department of defense has many tools at its disposal. in fact, the department and others were involved in unblocking the canal but i--. >> i bring it up in this context because it is important to china's trade routes in europe and africa, so that is kind of the thematic nexus. but that's fine, thank you. you >> two final questions while we have you before the committee. just to non china related questions for the record. can you give us an update on the status of proximity talks with iran relative to cpp owen? i know we talked about it in the context of china's role but, i think it would be good for that committee to get an update on where those discussions stand, more broadly. >> yes. so as you may have seen,
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special envoy malley is in vienna. he has gone forward for, at the invitation of high rep morale who has put a package out that is largely the package that we last saw in march. so, rob is going to go forward to hear whether the iranians come out on this. we are where we have been for some months. we are not interested in discussing extraneous issues, which the iranians keep trying to introduce into the discussion. so, we will have a better sense over the next day or so where things come out. and i am sure rob would be more head than happy to come out and give you a briefing. >> and lastly, news came out yesterday that opec plus approved a pretty meager increase in oil production.
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they had announced pieces earlier that they would be increasing production by 650,000 barrels a day, yesterday they announced that increased for september would only be 100,000 barrels. most global and energy economists suggest that simply wouldn't move the needle on global prices. what do you make of that announcement? >> senator, i know that this is an ongoing discussion between members of the administration and members of opec. this is, i think, a first bite at the apple these discussions will continue. i know there, some of the states it said that they are up against. they are running out of head room in terms of further production. but it is an ongoing discussion. >> okay. thank you very much for your time today. we are going to keep the record open for members to submit questions for the record until close of business back up tomorrow. and
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with that, we thank you for your time and this hearing is concluded. >> thank you. [inaudible conversations] [inaudible conversations]
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