Armitage interview With Charlie Rose

Friday December 10, 2004

Richard L. Armitage, Deputy Secretary of State
Washington, DC

MR. ROSE: When you look at accomplishments of you and Secretary Powell, the State Department, the Administration in foreign policy, many people will cite China as the best example. I'm not asking you to evaluate your own success, but if you look at China from the time you had the -- almost early on in the Administration to where we are today, tell me where we are today and how we, as a nation, ought to respond to the bilateral relationship with a China that's growing fast, the fastest growing economy, all of that -- a country that clearly wants to be an important member of the world's community.

DEPUTY SECRETARY ARMITAGE: Wait a minute. Clearly is important and a member.

MR. ROSE: It is a member, but it wants to play a larger role, obviously.

DEPUTY SECRETARY ARMITAGE: Well, and we should welcome a larger role. God knows the problems of the international community are large enough. Where we are right now after starting with a collision of aircraft four years ago is where Chinese leaders and U.S. leaders say, the best relationship we've ever had with China. And the peaceful rising of China is probably going to be the most momentous happening, probably, in the first half of this century for sure.

MR. ROSE: The peaceful rising of China is the most momentous --

DEPUTY SECRETARY ARMITAGE: Will be the most momentous in the first half of this century. They are so big. And not just in terms of land size or population, but they're so big in terms of the energy they require, the raw materials they require, their reach, what they'll do as they take a correct place on the world stage that I think it will be momentous.

MR. ROSE: The power of theirmarket, the power of their buying power.

DEPUTY SECRETARY ARMITAGE: Indeed. And the power of their growing middle class, who wants to purchase and has the ability, now, to purchase from the outside world.

MR. ROSE: Do you think they'll move towards a democracy of some sort?

DEPUTY SECRETARY ARMITAGE: Well, I think that the tide of history is -- always leads that way, and people given their own choice will move that way. They chose to do, however, their change in society in the reverse way that the Russians did.

MR. ROSE: Well, speaking of the Russians -- go ahead.

DEPUTY SECRETARY ARMITAGE: They would say, the Chinese would say, "Look, we got it right. We're going to open up our markets, open up our economy, raise the general living standard and slowly expand the personal freedoms."

MR. ROSE: Does this have to be, if China gains, U.S. loses? Does it have to be a zero-sum game?

DEPUTY SECRETARY ARMITAGE: No. It's not a zero-sum game. The way we're all interconnected in the international economic community means that a rising tide will lift all boats.

MR. ROSE: So India grows, China grows, and it will do nothing but good for the United States if it's handled well?

DEPUTY SECRETARY ARMITAGE: Well, no. I think there -- it forces us, I think, all of us, to think together about the problems we all face that could inhibit us all, such as the environment, such as resources and fuel, such as the need to get alternate sources of fuel. It makes us all think about these things together, and, over time, all come together with our technology, et cetera, to better the general public good.

MR. ROSE: Where is the -- landmines -- in terms of China's rise and the United States? What has to --

DEPUTY SECRETARY ARMITAGE: I would say Taiwan. Taiwan is one. It's probably the biggest.

MR. ROSE: We will defend China from Taiwan if they attack?

DEPUTY SECRETARY ARMITAGE: Well, I'm, you know, to make a statement like that is not quite appropriate. We have the requirement with the Taiwan Relations Act to keep sufficient force in the Pacific to be able to deter attack; we are not required to defend. And these are questions that actually reside with the U.S. Congress, who has to declare an act of war.

But I think we have to manage this question appropriately. We all agree that there is but one China, and Taiwan is part of China. We are guided in our own relationship with China by three communiqués, which have been negotiated by successive Administrations, and the Taiwan Relations Act. And successive Administrations since the time of normalization in 1979 have been able to carry forth, develop relations with China and maintain good relations with the people of Taiwan.

We'll have to continue that way. It's not easy.