Tiananmen Square, Beijing
President Obama’s China adviser, Evan Medeiros, has a long history of downplaying the threat to U.S. interests posed by Beijing’s rapid military and economic growth, once even penning a paper that argued China should embrace a “great power mentality.”
Medeiros was appointed as China director of the White House National Security Council in 2009.
He was a foreign policy adviser to Obama during the 2008 presidential campaign and even donated $3,800 to the candidate, his only campaign contribution on record since 2000.
Medeiros has been an external researcher at the Strategic Studies Institute of the U.S. Army War College, where he has given several recent lectures.
He was formerly a senior research analyst at the Arms Control Association in Washington, D.C. He was also a project associate with the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Project at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace and joined the RAND Corporation as a political scientist in 2002.
Prior to that, Medeiros was a senior research associate at the Center for Nonproliferation Studies at the Monterey Institute.
In his most recent “Inside the Ring” column in the Washington Times, Bill Gertz cited congressional Republicans as identifying Medeiros as a key player involved in the Obama administration’s policy of refusing to sell needed arms to Taiwan.
The same report blamed Medeiros for delaying the release of a second Pentagon report to Congress on the shifting air power balance in the Taiwan Strait.
The Times also cited Republican staff aides and a defense official as stating they believe Medeiros is behind efforts to block the release to Congress of the Pentagon’s annual report on Chinese military power, completed months ago and due to Capitol Hill on March 1.
The report on China’s military was also delayed last year. When it was eventually released, the report was watered down with a minimized title. Previously called the “Annual Report to Congress: Military Power of the People’s Republic of China,” the report was renamed “Annual Report on Security Developments Involving China.”
Medeiros, meanwhile, was fingered by Gertz’s sources as a key official in preventing the U.S. sale of 66 advanced F-16 jets to Taiwan and for delaying the sale of equipment to upgrade Taiwan’s existing F-16s. Both military moves were expected to anger China.
A review of Medeiros’s articles and statements to the news media finds a regular trend of minimizing China’s threat to the U.S.
In 2009, just before his appointment to the NSC, Medeiros stated China was not seeking to “confront the United States or expel it from the region.”
He argued China was not aiming to replace America as a superpower.
In 2007, Medeiros, speaking as an expert at the RAND Corporation, argued Beijing’s military buildup is limited to Asia and it has not sought to project power globally.
“Cumulatively, this is a substantial amount of money devoted toward military modernization. And it’s clearly a reflection of the Chinese government’s priorities and the fact that they seek to build a modern military with regional power projection capabilities,” Medeiros said.
In 2005, Medeiros said of China’s People’s Liberation Army: “Do the old shibboleths still apply – that the Chinese defense industry is backward, poor and low-quality?”
“No,” he continued. “It seems China has turned the corner. … For the first time in 20 years, the PLA has adopted reforms that make sense. They adopted, and implemented, and are really learning quickly.”
Medeiros that year was lead author of a 300-page RAND study, “New Directions for China’s Defense Industry.”
In 2002, he minimized China’s missile project, telling The Economist that the Chinese “don’t really see missiles as weapons of mass destruction while most American policymakers equate the two.”
In an article in the November-December 2003 issue of Foreign Affairs magazine, Medeiros, with analyst M. Taylor Fravel, presented the views of experts on Chinese foreign policy as stating China should overcome its long-held ”victim mentality” and adopt a ”great power mentality” instead.
Speaking to Knight Ridder in 2001, Medeiros stated, “The Chinese defense industrial base is very outdated and dilapidated, especially in these areas where warfare is headed.
“They don’t have the high technology to compete at all,” he said.
He stated China’s ships and planes, at least those not acquired from Russia, are outfitted with technology equal to what American forces had in the late 1960s or early 1970s.
“So if they ever got in a battle with the United States, we could destroy their forces before they ever saw us,” Medeiros added.
Still, Medeiros has incorporated criticism of China into his work. His 2005 RAND study, for example, said China “needs to do more to enforce its own controls.”
Stated the study: “China has erected a structure that has a strong legal basis to control exports of goods that can be used for making weapons of mass destruction, but it hasn’t devoted the necessary financial or political resources to make these controls effective.
“This is a persistent and glaring weakness,” the study said.
With research by Brenda J. Elliott
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