China - Sino-American Relations
Chinese J fighter seen at US airbase, but there's no need to panic The US fears China could strangle its only permanent military base in Africa – and a. Since the founding of the People's Republic of China, Sino-U.S. relations have developed by twists and turns. Tying up with the changing postwar international. Sino-American relations remained at a stalemate during most of the s. Political considerations in both countries made a shift toward closer relations difficult.
I read my first book about the People's Republic of China inwhile a student at Yale University. The author was Doak Barnett. The politically correct image of China in the United States at the time was of a desperately poor and cruelly regimented country governed by a madman. Professor Barnett provided the factual corrective to this political parody.
China-US relations | South China Morning Post
When I later joined the U. Foreign Service, I discovered how important Doak had been in sustaining the integrity of China-watchers in Washington. They had been traumatized by McCarthyism and conditioned to provide "positive loyalty" to ideologically insistent politicians. His inveterate realism, tempered with optimism, helped lay the basis for replacing national pessimism about the possibility of Sino-American rapprochement with the will to attempt it.
One of Doak's books was among those I loaned to President Nixon before he set out for China thirty-six years ago. The president must have liked the book because he never returned it to me despite repeated requests that he do so!
I first encountered Mike Oksenberg inthrough a brilliant article he wrote for "Problems of Communism" in which he proposed a novel and very persuasive taxonomy of Chinese politics that applied to both sides of the Taiwan Strait.
I was so impressed with his ideas that I made a point of seeking out the author. That began a lifelong acquaintance that blossomed into friendship. Mike brought imagination and optimism about China to the Carter White House. When we commemorate the thirtieth anniversary of Sino-American relations at year's end, we will celebrate a major event in world politics to which Mike was central.
The spirit of both men was indomitable, their optimism was unquenchable, and their eyes were always on the future. That brings me to the continuing promise of Sino-American relations and reminds me of how this phase of our relations began.
On a chill, gray Monday morning, exactly thirty-six years ago today, I stood on the steps of the old Hongqiao Airport terminal. I had arrived in Shanghai twenty minutes in advance of President Nixon. I had studied Chinese in Taiwan, but this was, of course, my first encounter with the Chinese mainland. My eye was drawn to a billboard that defiantly proclaimed, much as those at the airport in Taipei did at the time with seven of the same eight ideograms"we have friends all over the world.
Judging from the presence of birds but the absence of aircraft at Hongqiao, I deduced, all those foreign friends of China couldn't be conducting their comradely visits by air. As our president and his wife deplaned for an off-camera cup of tea, I struck up a conversation with a Chinese foreign ministry official, the first I had ever met. I was, it turned out, also the first American official with whom he had ever spoken. It was a day of mutual discovery for many Chinese and Americans.
Not just for me and others who took part in some or all of its events, but for all whose stereotypes were blown away by the images on television. In the past thirty-six years, China has changed so much and become so much part of the world and Sino-American relations have become so tangled in multiple intimacies that the international solitude China then enjoyed can no longer be imagined. There is no birdsong now at the Hongqiao or Pudong airports.
China–United States relations
Instead, there are hundreds of jet aircraft arriving and departing for every corner of China and the globe. Last year, China overtook the United States as the world's third-largest destination for foreign visitors. And the human ties between almost every sector of our two formerly estranged societies are now rich, ubiquitous, intricate, and warm.
Yet China and the United States began our contemporary relationship not with affection but with cold strategic calculation. The American intention was to alter the world's strategic geometry, not to change China by opening it to outside influence.
Ours was a marriage between hostile parties arranged by geopolitics. It took place despite bitter disagreement on many matters and highly negative images of each other.
That language was, of course, a major achievement for both sides. It was the unprecedented candor with which the text recorded sharp differences between the United States and China on many regional and global issues. And, in terms of the broad national security and foreign policies of our two countries, the essential paragraph was not that about Taiwan.
It was our mutual acknowledgment that, while "there are essential differences between China and the United States in their social systems and foreign policies," we could and should set aside these differences in the interest of sustaining a mutually advantageous international security order and pursuing common purposes in accordance with international law and comity.
I do not paraphrase by much. Such realism and mutual respect, tempered by deference to the rules of international conduct, was a wise basis on which to open a relationship between two great nations with the capacity greatly to help or hurt each other.
It also delivered the strategic results both sides intended. The essence of this approach was [illegible] — preventing differences on relatively minor matters from obstructing the search for agreement on others of greater importance.
Tonight I wish to focus on the implications of common interests, not areas of discord. It would, however, be inappropriate not to acknowledge the continuing challenges posed by the two longstanding barriers to the realization of the full potential of Sino-America relations. These barriers to greater cooperation are well known. But there is no need for me to dwell on these problems. Too much ink has already been spilled over improbable contingencies and the sometimes willful mischaracterization by each side of the other's intentions.
Today there is growing reason to be optimistic about even these impediments to improved relations. After all, to speak first of Taiwan, despite occasional moments of reckless political gamesmanship, the general trend has been toward cross-Strait integration.
The net effect of Chen Shuibian's drive to reverse this trend has been to push Washington and Beijing into parallel action to preserve the prospects for peaceful resolution of cross-Strait differences. To this end, each has reaffirmed the one-China principle and opposed moves from Taipei to abandon it. A growing majority on Taiwan is coming to grips with the reality that their future depends on friendship and collaboration with the Chinese mainland and that the world will neither welcome nor endorse efforts to determine their island's status unilaterally.
On this side of the Strait too, the clear working assumption is now that progress in cross-Strait relations is best achieved by mutual agreement and that this requires deference to public opinion in Taiwan as well as the mainland.
And, while the limited use of force for deterrent purposes has not been ruled out, there is widespread recognition that attempting to impose reunification coercively or by conquest would be both fruitless and counterproductive.
The conceptual differences between the two sides of the Strait once again appear to be narrowing. Both sides have begun anew to think creatively about how to assure peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait so that, with wisdom and patience, people on both sides of it can craft a mutually agreeable accommodation.
All these factors have made the Taiwan issue less contentious between Washington and Beijing than it has been for some time. We may now be in a brief period of heightened risk, but there is growing reason for optimism. The other major obstacle to the development of our relations, ideology, has waxed and waned over the years.
At various times, anticapitalist dogma, anticommunism, the radical ideology of the Gang of Four, zeal for democracy and human rights, and other passionately held beliefs on one side or the other have stood in the way of forward progress.
- The Promise of Sino-American Relations
And yet our relations have moved forward. With time and experience, we seem to be rediscovering the pragmatic spirit of the Nixon opening of thirty-six years ago. There are many disputes between the two countries but, with few exceptions, they are to do with the specific policies of one side or the other, not insurmountable differences of principle. Of course, our relationship is not built on shared values. This leads polemicists, both here and in the United States, to posit ideologically driven contention between us.
And a few indignant ideologues are moved to diatribe.The Future of U.S.-China Relations: Is Confrontation Inevitable?
But these apostles of strife are the exception and have, so far, been utterly wrong in their predictions. What is, in fact, most surprising to someone like me, who can remember the very sharp ideological arguments of the past, is how many similarities there now are between American and Chinese views of the world and its problems. One reason for the decline of ideology as an impediment to better relations is greatly increased contact between Americans and Chinese.
On both sides of the Pacific a new generation of scholars and businesspeople has sprung up. They owe much to their elders but face no barrier to living, studying, and working in the countries they are trying to understand, travel frequently in them, have easy access to their officials, and are at home in them.
Ignorant a priori reasoning about each other of the sort Doak Barnett and Mike Oksenberg combated in the United States has not vanished from either country, but it is in retreat.
That is important, for both nations have changed greatly since we reencountered each other decades ago. China, in particular, has changed and continues to change with unprecedented speed.
One cannot visit the same China twice. What even knowledgeable Americans think they know about China must therefore constantly be checked against the latest realities here. The course of Sino-American relations since their normalization also gives grounds for optimism. In the perspective of decades, despite some twists and turns, it is a remarkable record of success.
Sino-American Relations: Opportunities and Challenges
Immediately after normalization inthe United States had two broad objectives for our bilateral relations. We wanted to bring US-China relations to the level of mutual engagement and confidence they would have attained if we had not spent three decades in a state of mutual isolation. And we wanted to draw China into the world order from which we had systematically excluded it during that period of non-intercourse.
As it happened, these objectives coincided almost perfectly with those of China's greatest 20th Century leader, Deng Xiaoping. Vice Premier Deng sought to enlist America in his bold effort to change China. He believed that China could benefit from becoming what World Bank President Zoelleck has called a "responsible stakeholder" in the existing world order, rather than railing against that order or trying to overthrow it.
An important side effect of the Korean War was that Washington resumed military aid to Taiwan and throughout the s became increasingly committed to Taiwan's defense, making the possibility of Chinese reunification more remote. After the United States-Taiwan Mutual Defense Treaty was signed inTaiwan became the most contentious issue between the United States and China, and remained so in the late s, despite the abrogation of the treaty and the subsequent normalization of relations between Beijing and Washington in In Premier Zhou Enlai made a conciliatory opening toward the United States in which he said the Chinese people did not want war with the American people.
His statement led to a series of official ambassadorial-level talks in Geneva and Warsaw that continued fairly regularly for the next decade and a half. Although the talks failed to resolve fundamental conflicts between the two countries, they served as an important line of communication. Sino-American relations remained at a stalemate during most of the s. Political considerations in both countries made a shift toward closer relations difficult, especially as the United States became increasingly involved in the war in Vietnam, in which Washington and Beijing supported opposite sides.
China's isolationist posture and militancy during the Cultural Revolution precluded effective diplomacy, and Sino-American relations reached a low point with seemingly little hope of improvement. Several events in the late s and early s, however, led Beijing and Washington to reexamine their basic policies toward each other. After the Soviet Union's invasion of Czechoslovakia in and the Sino-Soviet border clashes inChina saw its major threat as clearly coming from the Soviet Union rather than the United States and sought a closer relationship with Washington as a counterweight to Moscow.
When President Richard M. Nixon assumed office inhe explored rapprochement with China as part of his doctrine of reduced United States military involvement in Asia. Moves in this direction resulted in an American ping-pong team's trip to China and Henry A.
Kissinger's secret visit, both infollowed by Nixon's dramatic trip to China in The Shanghai Communique, a milestone document describing the new state of relations between the two countries, and signed by Nixon and Zhou Enlai, included a certain degree of ambiguity that allowed China and the United States to set aside differences, especially on the Taiwan issue, and begin the process of normalizing relations.
After the signing of the Shanghai Communique, however, movement toward United States-China normalization during the s saw only limited progress. The United States and China set up liaison offices in each other's capitals inand bilateral trade grew unevenly throughout the decade. Chinese statements continued to express the view that both superpowers were theoretically adversaries of China, but they usually singled out the Soviet Union as the more "dangerous" of the two.
In the second half of the s, China perceived an increasing Soviet threat and called more explicitly for an international united front against Soviet hegemony. In addition, rather than strictly adhering to the principle of self-reliance, China adopted an economic and technological modernization program that greatly increased commercial links with foreign countries.
These trends toward strategic and economic cooperation with the West gave momentum to Sino-United States normalization, which had been at an impasse for most of the decade. Ties between China and the United States began to strengthen inculminating in the December announcement that diplomatic relations would be established as of January 1, In establishing relations, Washington reaffirmed its agreement that the People's Republic was the sole legal government of China and that Taiwan was an inalienable part of China.
Deng Xiaoping's visit to the United States the following month was symbolic of the optimism felt in Beijing and Washington concerning their strategic alignment and their burgeoning commercial, technical, and cultural relations.