All-Star Panel: US sending the wrong message to China?

'Special Report' All-Star panel weighs in


This is a rush transcript from "Special Report," May 15, 2014. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.


GEN. MARTIN DEMPSEY, JOINT CHIEFS CHAIRMAN: We also discussed the depositions in the South China Sea and how provocative actions can lead to confrontation. These issues need to be resolved through dialogue and international law.

GEN. FANG FENGHUI, CHINESE ARMY (via translator): We do not create trouble, but we are not afraid of trouble. For the territory which was passed down by ancestors into the hands of our generation, we cannot afford to lose an inch.

GORDON CHANG, FORBES: We intend this to be a gesture of friendship, but the Chinese see this as a signal of weakness. They are ruthlessly pragmatic. They look at this and they just laugh at us.


BRET BAIER, ANCHOR: China's top military general in the U.S. on a five day tour getting the red carpet treatment, 19 gun salute at the Pentagon. You saw that joint press conference with the chairman of the Joint Chiefs. Well, there is also a lot of tension, and some of it Vietnam, there are mobs of protests that are burning factories as part of these protests against China's decision to place an oil rig in the disputed Southeast Asian waters that Vietnam claims it's own. This is just one of many incidents, China pushing back against its neighbors.  We're back with the panel. Judge, what about the message being sent by some of these high profile visits. The vice president, for example, met with this Chinese general today.

JUDGE ANDREW NAPOLITANO, FOX NEWS SENIOR JUDICIAL ANALYST: I agree with Gordon Chang that the public display of willingness to talk on the part of General Dempsey feeds the domestic political Chinese need for this at home and looks very, very bad for us. I mean, here you have General Dempsey saying we have to talk about this. We can't just bring military might into the open seas, and the Chinese general two feet away from him basically says they started it and we're not afraid to finish it.

Look, the Chinese, Vietnamese hatred for each other is 60 years old, and the Chinese claim on this part of the ocean is hundreds of years old. I don't think this is going to end tomorrow and I don't think it's going to be resolved by generals talking to each other. Somebody has got to trade something off behind the scenes.

BAIER: Juan, here is what the The Washington Post editorial said about all of this, saying "The regime of Xi Jinping intends to unilaterally assert China's sovereignty over almost all of South China Sea without regard for the competing claims of five other countries or Mr. Obama's newly restated commitment to uphold defense agreements with two of those nations. In that sense the rig – the oil rig, like Russia's invasion of Ukraine, is a fundamental challenge to the international order the United States has tried to preserve since the end of the Cold War." So that's perception, but there is another perception when this general is, you know, kind of quoted around the U.S. for five days.

JUAN WILLIAMS, SENIOR EDITOR, THE HILL: Well, I mean, obviously, it wasn't coordinated. If just happens to be that he was scheduled and this has erupted at this moment. But the larger point here that China does somehow think that they have sovereignty over the whole East China Sea. The Senkaku islands they are in dispute with the Japanese over them. They have separate disputes with Malaysia and Brunei. You can go on. And of course, the big dispute that we know if is the one with Taiwan. And the United States has said we will defend Taiwan in the straits if China intervenes there.

The larger point is, you know, we have had a reset with Russia. We have said that we were going to do better with China. And, you know, China remains locked in its own mindset and a bully in that neighborhood.

BAIER: But maybe, Charles, if that's the case, is the message of a 19 gun salute and all this stuff the wrong message for China?

CHARLES KRAUTHAMMER, SYNDICATED COLUMNIST: Well, the message from China is knowing that we're going to have a visit they went ahead and they put the oil rig in Vietnamese water, sort of defying everybody. You could hear their general. He said we're not looking for trouble. We're not afraid of it. The American is talking about international law. Dialogue, Kerry speaks about 21st century norms. I mean, we are living on a different universe. We have, I mean, this administration, doesn't have a geopolitical concept in its head.

Here is Russia and China asserting openly that they are committed to geopolitical ambitions along the lines of their ancient maps. That's what the general was saying. We have a map that our ancestors passed on to us which includes the East China Sea and the South China Sea. Russia has a map Putin spoke about that looks at Ukraine as new Russia. They are looking at the world as a geo -- with their geopolitical ambitions, and we are talking like high school adolescents about international law and dialogue. The problem is that the people who live in the neighborhood understand that China and Russia are going to push until they meet resistance. They are meeting none, and that's why the push is continuing.

BAIER: Judge, the president said out in the Philippines, our goal is not to counter China. Our goal is not to contain China. Our goal is to make sure that international rules and norms are respected.

NAPOLITANO: I think Charles is correct and the Chinese don't care about international rules and norms, and they will take whatever they can get away with. You want to know how the Vietnamese feel? How would we feel if China built oil rig off Atlantic City and said we're not leaving because we think this is international waters and we don't care what you think about pollution or our proximity to the Jersey Shore.

KRAUTHAMMER: And it doesn't mean America has to go to war. But one thing that we can do is stop the radical drawdown of our defense budget, cutting our Navy, Army, and Air Force in the face of expansion by the Chinese and the Russians. The world looks at that and is terrified as a result.

WILLIAMS: We have sent our fleet in. We have been very clear with the Chinese. But I just caution the two of you that we can't start wars all over the world.

KRAUTHAMMER: But that's always the answer on the other side, you want to start a war. How about keeping our defense budget at least intact?

WILLIAMS: There is no burden there.

BAIER: This is the whole wrap sign. That's it for the panel. But stay tuned for a viral video you do not want to miss, and a special edition here.

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