CHINA, THE U.S., POLICY AND RELATIONS
Many see the relationship between China and the United States as having a strong bearing on the entire world. Cooperation between the two giants is necessary for problems like global warming and economic instability to be solved. Some believe the relationship between China and the United States is so important that if the two nations get along the world will be a stable and prosperous place and if they don’t all hell will break lose.
Beijing wants the relationship between China and the United States to be described as “strategic partnership.” Most analysts of Cold-War-style relations like the ones that existed between the United States and Soviet Union say that such relations could never exist between the United States and China because they two are too interconnected by trade and globalization.
Among the terms that have been used to describe the relationship between China and the United States are global partners, strategic competitors and “frenemies”---friends that secretly hate each other’s guts. [Source: Barbara Demick, Los Angeles Times]
Ji Qingghu of Peking University told the International Herald Tribune, “Like it or not, the United States has to accept China’s peaceful rise. The utility of force has declined because we live in a world of interconnection. China and the United States are not two separate entities. They are intertwined...Its very difficult to adopt a policy that is only harmful to the other side. What U.S. sanctions would not also hurt American’s own companies.”
Kissinger once said, "China managed to get through 5,000 years of history without significant advise from the United States. That is why they do not take as self evident that their domestic affairs should be prescribed by the United States."
According tp a report released by the CIA in April 2008, China is not an “inevitable enemy” of the United States despite its “troubling” military buildup and the fact it is an economic and strategic competitor with the United States.
A new $400 million U.S. embassy opened up Beijing a few days before the Opening Ceremonies of the 2008 Olympics in Beijing.
Good Websites and Sources: U.S.-China Policy Foundation www.uscpf.org/v2 ;Nixon’s Visit to China chizeng.com/nixon ; Wikipedia article on Sino-American Relations Wikipedia ; Links in this Website: CHINA, THE WORLD AND CHINESE NATIONALISM Factsanddetails.com/China ; CHINA AND ASIA RELATIONS Factsanddetails.com/China ; CHINA AND JAPAN RELATIONS Factsanddetails.com/China ; CHINA AND INDIA RELATIONS Factsanddetails.com/China ; CHINA, RUSSIA, EUROPE AFRICA AND THE MIDDLE EAST Factsanddetails.com/China ; Factsanddetails.com/China ;CHINA AND UNITED STATES Factsanddetails.com/China ; AMERICAN AND CHINESE POLICY Factsanddetails.com/China ;UNITED STATES, CHINA AND SPIES Factsanddetails.com/China ;GOVERNMENT IN CHINA Factsanddetails.com/China ; CHINESE ARMED FORCES Factsanddetails.com/China ; TIBETAN GOVERNMENT Factsanddetails.com/China ; CHINA AND TIBET Factsanddetails.com/China ; DALAI LAMA AND POLITICS Factsanddetails.com/China ; CHINESE TRADE Factsanddetails.com/China ; CHINESE TRADE WITH THE U.S., EUROPE AND JAPAN Factsanddetails.com/China ; FOREIGN COMPANIES AND INVESTMENT IN CHINA Factsanddetails.com/China ; MAO MEETS NIXON Factsanddetails.com/China ; EARLY COMMUNIST RULE UNDER MAO, with a section on the Korean War and C.I.A. Spies Factsanddetails.com/China ; CHINESE MILITARY Factsanddetails.com/China ; CHINESE ARMED FORCES Factsanddetails.com/China ; MISSILES, NUCLEAR BOMBS AND SPACE WEAPONS Factsanddetails.com/China ; CHINESE MILITARY, HACKERS AND SPIES Factsanddetails.com/China ; TERRORISM AND BOMBINGS IN CHINA Factsanddetails.com/China
The G-2, the United States and China
Today there is some discussion of a G-2, with China and the United States being the only two nations that matter, making larger groups like the G-8 obsolete. This not only implies that the United States and China are the two most powerful nations in the world it also suggest that China is an equal of the United States, which is far from the case at this moment in time. The American economy is still three times bigger than the Chinese one and the American military is six times bigger that its Chinese counterpart, It also implies the other members of the Group of Eight---Britain, France, Italy, Canada, Germany, Japan and Russian---are losing their clout and relevance.
David E. Sanger and Michael Wines wrote in the New York Times, “Hopes that China and the United States, briefly dubbed the “G-2' when they started common action to counter the world economic crisis early in 2009, would suddenly find a coincidence of interests have turned out to be optimistic. Even when they agree, American officials report that turning talk into action is frustratingly slow.” [Source: David E. Sanger and Michael Wines, New York Times, January 16, 2011]
The global warming conference in Copenhagen in 2009 showed many what the new world order is all about: namely that it will be shaped relations between the United States and China. The agreement upon which the whole conference hinged was largely shaped by talks between U.S. President Barrack Obama and Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao.
Chinese and American Policy Towards Each Other
Nixon Greeted by Zhou Enlai China feels that is necessary to have good relations with the United States to have access to its markets and technology. But at the same time the United States is still seen as a reminder of the humiliations than China has suffered at the hands of foreigners. China has said that it opposes the United States’s position as the world’s only superpower and has called for a multi-polar world.
To improve ties with the United States Beijing has made major purchases of planes and other products, hired $20,000-a-month lobbyists and used stars such as Jackie Chan to present the Chinese side on controversial issues.
China has a history of standing up to the United States. Chinese dissident Wei Jingsheng said, “Standing up to the American superpower is meant to stem growing internal opposition and cow China’s restless people into subservience under a one-party dictatorship. This is particularly critical as great democracy in China would expose its own economic problems.”
Common interests shared by China and the United States include global growth, regional security, nuclear proliferation, energy security, food and product safety, environmental protectionism ,climate change and fighting terrorism.
United States policy towards China is often described in terms of "engagement” and “containment.” “Containment” is a term used to describe policy by NATO to keep the Soviet Union from expanding in the Cold War. With China, "containment" entails maintaining a security link including South Korea, Japan, the Philippines and Thailand to prevent Chinese expansion
“Engagement” refers to the policy of engaging China in world affairs so that it is in its self interest to have good relations with other countries. American critics of this policy argue it is foolish for the U.S. to help China develop into a 21st century superpower that one day it will have to contain.
China doesn’t seem afraid of disrespecting the United States . The Chinese vice-premier, Wang Qishan, raised eyebrows on his visit to Washington in May 2011 when he announced that Americans were a very "simple people". At the global warming talks in Copenhagen in December 2009 a relatively minor official wagged his finger at U.S. President Barack Obama.
There is a lot of misunderstandings on both sides. Oxford historian Rana Mitter wrote in The Guardian “Bestselling books tend to fuel the disorientation rather than reduce it, whether they are airport-style business manuals on how not to lose your shirt or analyses that predict either imminent global takeover by the Middle Kingdom or its sudden implosion.... One Chinese commentator came up with a tortured explanation as to why this Sino-US spat was actually a good thing: when nations know each other better, he suggested, they feel less need to be polite and can say what they really think.” [Source: Rana Mitter, The Guardian , May 15 2011]
Fear of China in the U.S.
John Pomfret wrote in the Washington Post: It's 2030 in Beijing. A professor addresses a class of students. "Why do great nations fail?" he asks. "The Ancient Greeks, the Roman Empire, the British Empire, and the United States of America...They all make the same mistakes, turning their back on the principles that made them great," he says, speaking in a high-tech lecture hall festooned with portraits of Mao Zedong. "America tried to spend and tax itself out of a great recession. . . . Of course, we owned most of their debt," he says with a chuckle, then turns more serious. "So now they work for us." The class erupts in self-satisfied snickers. [Source: John Pomfret, Washington Post, October 29, 2010]
Released in October 2010 on the eve of Congressional election in the U.S., "The Chinese Professor" is the latest and most inflammatory of a series of China-related advertisements appearing across the United States. Feeding off the nationwide anxiety about high unemployment numbers and deep worries about the country's place in the world, the ad is part of a wave of campaign publicity that casts China as benefitting from the U.S. economic slide.” [Ibid]
“More than a spasm of political season piling-on, the ads underscore a broader shift in American society toward a more fearful view of China. Inspired by China's rise and a perceived fall in the standing of the United States, the ads have historical parallels to the American reaction to Japan in the 1980s and to the Soviet threat.” "I get this sense that they're going to take over the world," said Christie Kemp, an accounting student in Farmington Hills, Mich., who used to work for a tool company that has since relocated to China. "They're just hungrier than we are. They want it more." "Everybody's angry at China," said Bonnie S. Glaser of the Center for Strategic and International Studies, a Washington think tank. "It's a free-for-all right now, and there's very few people defending them." [Ibid]
“Hollywood portrayals of China have turned darker. In the movie Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps . Chinese cash is perfidious. In this past summer's The Karate Kid , a laid-off Detroit autoworker heads to Beijing, where a Chinese bully terrorizes her son. And a remake of the 1984 cult classic Red Dawn ,about six American high school students who take on the Soviet Red Army, has the kids fighting the Chinese. (The film, which was due out this month, has not been released because its studio, MGM, is facing bankruptcy - prompting jokes about American economic impotence on blogs in China.)”
"It is not China's fault that we went from having a budget surplus to being indebted with a trillion-dollar deficit," Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said in an interview with the historian Michael Beschloss. "Those are decisions we made through our political system. So we have to get our own house in order....It is heartbreaking to think that China would be the leader in clean-energy technology because we can't get our act together...If we stand on the sidelines and just complain and try to oppose whatever China is doing . . . and don't deal with our own issues at home, I don't know what the future will hold." [Ibid]
“China has itself partly to blame for the change in the United States' view, analysts say, because it has not delivered on the administration's expectations for a strengthened relationship,” Pomfret wrote. “Despite intense U.S. pressure, China allowed the value of its currency to rise only about 3 percent against the dollar. And although it voted for enhanced sanctions against Iran and North Korea, its enforcement of those efforts appears weak.” [Ibid]
“In Washington, the political shift away from China has been fast, with even benign issues becoming fraught with problems when the country is involved. Last month, for example, when the Chinese manufacturer Anshan Iron and Steel announced plans to participate in the construction of a steel mill that would employ scores of Americans in Mississippi, 50 members of Congress called for an investigation.” [Ibid]
On the campaign trail, both Democrats and Republicans are slinging mud at China. Currently, 250 ads targeting China are being aired in just under half of the 100 competitive districts, such as the battle for the Senate seat in Pennsylvania between Republican Pat Toomey and Democrat Joe Sestak. Sestak's ads come equipped with a gong and this line: "Pat Toomey - he's fighting for jobs . . . in China. Maybe he ought to run for Senate . . . in China." [Ibid]
United States Will Remain Dominant for 20 Years According to Chinese Official
In an essay published in January 2011, Le Yucheng, director-general of policy planning for China's Ministry of Foreign Affairs, said the he United States will retain unchallengeable global dominance for at least two decades and urged his government to find a balance between assertion and restraint. [Source: Reuters, January 24, 2011]
“The worst of the global financial crisis had passed, but its aftershocks would continue to drag on wealthy economies, and are hastening a "historic transformation in the international balance of powers," Le said in the Foreign Affairs Review, a Chinese-language publication overseen by his ministry. China must not assume, however, that the United States is suffering irreversible decline or that the two powers will soon be near equals, Le said. [Ibid]
"With the newly emerging powers growing faster, the United States' share of the pie is shrinking in relative terms, and so the fact is that its advantages are also shrinking," said Le. "But the United States is after all the United States. It makes up one quarter of the world economy, it holds incomparable military, scientific and innovative strengths, and we must not underestimate the United States' capacity to adjust and restore its powers," said Le. "In particular, the United States' strength and influence remain far in the lead, and will be unbeatable for the next 20 to 30 years."
Views on Henry Kissinger’s Views on China-U.S. Relations
In a Washington Post essay, "Avoiding a U.S.-China cold war," Henry Kissinger "seem convinced that the United States seeks to contain China and to constrict its rise." Both sides risk "self-fulfilling prophecies," Kissinger warns, leading to "an international choosing of sides, spreading disputes into internal politics of every region." Ethan Gutmann wrote in Focus Quarterly, “While the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) may well possess greater internal vulnerabilities than the U.S. political system, it is easy to concur with Kissinger's statement that conflict between the U.S. and China would collectively "exhaust their societies"---particularly given the proxy proliferation and steroidal terrorism that Beijing would likely employ. [Source: Ethan Gutmann, Focus Quarterly, Winter 2011]
Gutmann wrote: “On the American side however, Kissinger's analysis falters. While U.S. rhetoric concerning China runs the gamut at any given time, defense and foreign policy towards China over the last decade has been surprisingly restrained. The Pentagon has tirelessly promoted military exchanges to foster crisis stability, while forfeiting the battle over high-tech export controls. Following 9/11, U.S. intelligence emphasized collaboration with their Chinese counterparts, even allowing Chinese officials to interrogate Uyghur detainees at Guantanamo. Successive Washington administrations neutered any Taiwanese yearning for independence, encouraged the Beijing Olympics and, particularly under the Obama administration, gifted the status-hungry Chinese leadership with regular ceremonial takeaways. Even on a regional basis, U.S. resistance to China's aggression in the South China Sea against a multitude of neighbors is clearly reactive, while distribution of missile defense assets to South Korea, Japan, and Taiwan---actions that could appreciably reverse the emerging regional strategic calculus---are not employed, even as a bargaining chip (no American elite promotes such realpolitik; the "Blue Team" of the late 1990s effectively disbanded following the War on Terror). In short, are U.S. actions those of a youthful power, or an aging one?
The most egregious error in Kissinger's analysis, Guthman wrote, is interpreting Chinese elite attitudes at face value, given Chinese restrictions on information and free expression. Even if many Chinese enjoy invoking the once and future Middle Kingdom---a safe enough gambit in a Chinese Internet discussion’there are equal numbers who quietly crave external interaction---ergo the flowers strewn across Google's Beijing headquarters when the company announced its departure, an anonymous protest against the state power that limits the Chinese people's connectivity with the world and indeed, with each other. And is the Chinese mind truly haunted by 19th century humiliations, like a jilted lover graphically replaying a former partner's infidelities?
In a review of Henry Kissinger’s book On China , Brantly Womack, a professor of foreign affairs at the University of Virginia, wrote: Kissinger “notes that the American dual perception of China as opportunity/threat is mirrored by China’s perception of America as model/obstacle. While both governments officially emphasize cooperation, he addresses the question of an inevitable clash. Will the approaching reality of economic parity overwhelm good intentions” Essentially, Kissinger’s answer is no, because parity is not equality. As China’s economy nears the size of America’s, its per-capita income will still be one-quarter of ours, and its work force will have entered a rapid decline to old age. China’s demographic constraints will limit its future growth and increase its welfare burden. Rather than preparing for a showdown with China, Kissinger suggests building a Pacific Community along the lines of the Atlantic Community to promote security through inclusivity and mutual respect.
Shortcoming of American Policy Towards China
Ethan Gutmann wrote in Focus Quarterly,”Getting rich collectively not only seemed to solve the problem of China's terrible past, but also China's future, particularly its inevitable rise as a great power. Any moral dilemmas presented by cooperation with the CCP was mitigated by a belief in what James Mann labels "the Soothing Scenario"---capitalism will, at some unspecified-but-inevitable time, bring democratic reform to China; it just needs to get some money in people's pockets first.[Source: Ethan Gutmann, Focus Quarterly, Winter 2011]
The Chinese leadership never really fretted---they would run their shop in their own fashion from the value of their currency to the most byzantine variety of market restrictions that the world has ever seen. And the Soothing Scenario was blatantly contradicted by the CCP's actions; while village elections dutifully performed for Western media, actual trends in human rights, press, and freedom were headed on the opposite trajectory. In 2000, Chinese State Security was already implementing its greatest action since the Cultural Revolution. Beginning in the year 1999, the elimination of Falun Gong became the most potent issue in China, as reflected in the incarceration rates of Falun Gong practitioners (about 450,000 to one million in any single year) and it did not officially subside from that position until the middle of the next decade. At this point, the true casualty rate started to emerge from refugee testimony---approximately 70,000 fatalities, mostly through organ harvesting in military hospitals.
Failure of American Foreign Policy to Understand China
Fareed Zakaria of Newsweek said, “You can’t stop China’s rise. All you can do is make sure that the United States is positioned to take advantage of that rise...We can either ride this wave...or we can drown in it.”
Martin Jacques, author of When China Rules the World: the End of the Western World and the Birth of a New Global Order wrote in the Los Angeles Times, “Evert since the Nixon-Mao rapprochement ...there has been an overdue belief in the West that eventually China would become like us: that, for example, a market economy would lead to democratization and that a free media was inevitable. This hubristic outlook is deeply flawed.”
“The issue here is much deeper than Western-style democracy, a free media and human rights, China is simply not like the West and never will be. There has been an underlying assumption that the process of modernization would inevitably lead to Westernization; yet modernization is not just markets, competition and technology but history and culture. And Chinese history is very different from that of any Western nation-state....The West’s failure to understand the Chinese has repeatedly undermined its ability to anticipate their behavior.”
“The fundamental reason for our inability to accurately predict China’s future is our failure to understand its past. Although China has described itself as a nation-state for the last century, it is in essence a civilization-state. The longest continually existing polity in the world, it dates to 221 B.C. and the victory of the Qin. Unlike Western nation states, China’s sense of identity comes from its long history as a civilization-state.”
“The Chinese state enjoys a very different kinds of relationship with society compared with the Western state. It enjoys much greater natural authority, legitimacy and respect, even though not a single vote is cast for the government. The reason is that the state is seen by Chinese as the custodian and embodiment of their civilization. The duty of the state therefore lies deep in Chinese history. This is utterly different from how the state is seen in Western societies.”
Jacques wrote in the Times of London, “There are of examples of how China will remain different...Unlike in Europe, the state has never had its powers curbed by competitors, giving it an unrivaled position at the heart of Chinese society; or its highly distinctive position on race, where about 92 percent of the population believe that they are of one race; and the lack of conception of, or respect for, difference that flow from this...The rise of China will transform a world that presently conforms to a Western template.”
Jacques then goes ahead and paints a world in which China is dominant culturally and politically. He visualizes a world in which the yuan and Mandarin will replace the dollar and English as the world’s dominate currency and language; where Confucianism replaces Western philosophies as the underling pining of society; and where Chinese historical events, literature and film become known to everyone.
Jacques later wrote, “China is becoming a global power, while America no longer has the same authority that it used to have...The U.S. has only just begun to wake up to the fact that it is in decline...It is completely unprepared for what this might mean: that it can no loner deal with others in the way that is has, that it can no longer assume a relationship of superiority on its dealings with China , and that it has to seek a new understanding of China rather than expect the latter to continue to play second fiddle...relations between the two could steadily deteriorate with negative implications for the rest of the world.”
Negotiations, China and the United States
Deng Xiaoping with Nixon and Carter Foreign policy between China and the United States seems to be defined by whether the countries are focusing on something that brings together or something that divides them. Some analyst argue the key to a healthy relationship between the United States and China is “to integrate not isolate” and maintain consistent high-level consultations. There is a defense “hotline” between China and the United States to avoid misunderstandings during a crisis.
Many Sinologists believe that the United States has been consistently outmaneuvered and out-negotiated by the Chinese and repeatedly given in to their demands and received nothing in return. Communist China refused to help the United States get out of Vietnam while the United States sold out Taiwan to have diplomatic relations with China. China allowed the C.I.A. to set up monitoring station in western China because but did so only because the stations supplied China as well as the United States with intelligence on the Soviet Union.
Kissinger wrote, "Partly because of the difficulty the two sides have had in understanding each other's culture and code of conduct, they have rarely succeeded in getting Sino-American relationships in a steady course for any extended period of time.”
Henry Kissinger wrote in Newsweek, America's approach is "optimistic and missionary... Americans think in terms of concrete solutions to specific problems. The Chinese think in terms of process that has no precise culmination. Americans believe that international disputes result either from misunderstandings or ill will; the remedy for the former is persuasion---occasionally quite insistent---and, for the latter, defeat or destruction of the evil doer...To Americans, Chinese leaders seem polite but aloof and condescending”.
Explaining the Chinese strategy, James of Los Angeles Times wrote in his book About Face, "Chinese leaders preferred to deal with a single high-level American official who could be courted, flattered and praised for his wisdom. Such an official would in turn often become a forceful advocate in Washington of policies that served China's interests."
Some pundits have suggested the U.S.’s massive debt load, wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and rise of China’s economic strength have reduced the bargaining power of the United States with China
United States, China and Foreign Policy
China helped U.S. interests by putting pressure on North Korea to curb its nuclear program and allowing American navy ships to dock in Hong Kong..
The Kennedy administration and the George W. Bush administration pursued a policy of supporting India to keep China in check. See India.
The U.S. is angered by the sale of nuclear and missile technology to Pakistan. Chinese missiles or missile parts are also believed to have been sold to Iran, Iraq, Libya, Algeria, Burma and North Korea.
Many experts could have the 1995 Sino-American confrontation over Taiwan by alerting Beijing in advance and negotiating a face-saving gesture with Taipei.
China has a history of voting against the United States in United Nations. The countries that voted against the U.S. the most in the U.N. in 1994 were; 1) India (84%); 2) Laos (80%); 3) China (77%); 4) Lebanon (71%); 5) Burundi (70%); 6) Sri Lanka (70%); 7) Zimbabwe (70%); 8) Algeria (69%); 9) Angola (69%); and 10) Ghana (69%). [Source: The Heritage Foundation]
China joined France, Germany and Russia on the United Nations Security Council in opposing the Iraq war. But generally on such matters China has kept a low profile so as not to affect relations with the United States.
United States, China, Human Rights, Politics and Terrorism
Deng Xiaoping with Ford and Bush Human rights has been a major focus of United States policy in China. Washington has worked hard to win the release of dissidents and frequently criticized China on its human rights policies. Interaction in human rights issues between the United States and China is pretty much on autopilot. Robert Kagan wrote in the Washington Post, "Every few months, the U.S. government talks to the Chinese government...for a few minutes. It 'raises' the issue' of human rights. Then it goes back to keeping records."
China has accused the United States of turning a blind eye to its own human rights violations while “pretending to be the world’s judge of human rights.” In 2004, China issued a report called “The Human Rights Record of the United States.” It pointed out that: 1) there are large number Americans killed with guns and in violent crimes; 2) elections are often swayed by money from the rich contributors; 3) there are large numbers of homeless and poor and the gap between the rich and the poor is very large; and 4) racial discrimination is still very much alive in the U.S.
Terrorism is an issue that brings the United States and China together. Both countries are battle the same enemy, Islamic extremists. The Chinese allow the United States to station inspectors in the ports of Hong Kong, Shenzhen and Shanghai to, among other things, look for materials that might be used in a terrorist attack.
Chinese government representatives have been accused of donating large sums of money to the Democratic National Committee in the United States in return for favors from Washington. In 1998, a daughter of a high-level general reportedly funneled money to the Democratic National Committee by Taiwanese-American fundraiser Johnny Chung in return for gaining access to top secret information on satellite technology. The allegations were unproven.
The United States and China have periodically had talks on human rights. The did so in 2011 and before that in 2009 and 2002. China broke off human rights talks with the United States on 2004 after the United States urged a United Nations agency to condemn China over backsliding in rights. In 2008 China said it was willing to resume talks. Analysts have suggested that the only reason China was willing to do with it was to defuse criticism during the countdown to the Olympics. See Human Rights
Many conservatives feel that American policy towards China is too soft and the United States is taken for a ride n issues such as the value of the yuan
United States, China and Military
In the 1970s China and the U.S. were united by their hostility toward the Soviet Union. U.S. President Ronald Reagan once alarmed the nation with thee statement "a billion Chinese armed with nuclear weapons."
The U.S. threatened to use force against China in 1995 when China threatened Taiwan to keep shipping lanes in South China Sea open. One American analysts told his Chinese counterparts, according to Newsweek, "You should understand, this issue in the final analysis has nothing to so with Taiwan. the issue is U.S. credibility around the world."
Beijing has criticized the United States for selling arms to Taiwan. China is also against ABM style missile defense partly because it could be used as a shield to provide a defense for Taiwan. China has joined Russia condemning the United States missile shield plan. China was not pleased by the placement of American bases on China’s doorstep in the Central Asian states of Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan.
United States View of China as a Military Threat
Deng Xiaoping with Carter In September 2009, U.S. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates said that China’s increasingly advanced weaponry could undermine U.S. military power in the Pacific. “Investments in cyber and anti-satellite warfare, anti-air and anti-ship weaponry and ballistic missiles could threaten Americans primary way of projecting power and helping allies in the Pacific,” he said. “When considering the military-modernization programs of countries like China we should be concerned less with their potential ability to challenge the U.S. symmetrically “fighter to fighter or ship to ship---and more on their ability to disrupt our freedom of movement and narrow our strategic options.”
The annual report on China issued by the U.S. Defense Department in 2009 stated that the potential for miscalculation and misunderstanding was growing to both sides and improved communications was need to avoid trouble. A major quadrennial Pentagon report issued in February 2010 stated that Washington welcomed a strong and prosperous China but it was concerned about a “lack of transparency and the nature of China’s military development and decision-making process raise legitimate questions about its future conduct and extensions within Asia and beyond.” It added that the U.S. approach to China “must be multidimensional and undergirded by a process of enhancing confidence and reducing mistrust in a manner that reinforces mutual interests.”
In November 2007, U.S. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates said. “I don’t consider the China at this point to be a military threat. I have concerns with a variety of military programs they have under way. I have concern with the lack of transparency.” A report by two arms control advocacy group stated that the United States overstated the China’s nuclear build up and threat to justify building a new generation of weapons. it has “embellished” China’s long range missile capabilities, for example, to justify the pursuit of a missile defense system.
A Pentagon report issued in 2001 but made public in 2006, characterized China as a threat and said that it has the “greatest potential to compete militarily with the United States” and that “a major or emerging power could choose a hostile path in the future”---an apparent reference to China. It also said, “China continued to invest heavily on its military, particularly in its strategic arsenal and capabilities designed to improve its ability to project power beyond its borders.”
The conclusions were reiterated by U.S. Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld when he said in June 2005, “Since no nation threatens China, one wonders: why the growing investment? The Chinese government has rejected the reports saying it was not a threat and its military build up was strictly for defensive purposes.
Decisions by the U.S. military in Asia---namely basing more long-range bombers in Guam, adding a sixth aircraft carrier ro the Pacific fleet, and revamping its military presence in Japan---are seen as responses and preparation for a militarily strong China in the future.
The United States objects to Chinese sales of weapons technology. In January 2005, the United States placed penalties on eight Chinese companies for providing Iran with technology that it can use to improve its ballistic missiles.
Military Cooperation Between the United States and China
The United States and China have held joint naval exercises. U.S. warships have docked in several Chinese ports including Zhanjiang, the home of China’s Southern Fleet, Shanghai and Hong Kong.
In May 2002, China for the first time observed annual military exercises involving the United States, Thailand and Singapore. The United States and Chinese navies have cooperated in mine hunting exercises. China's has expressed interests in leasing the former naval base in Long Beach, California for its state owned shipping company.
In October 2003, U.S. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld met with China’s defense chief General Cao Gangchuan. In May 2006, top military commanders from each country met and promised “to step up military exchanges at all levels:” with the U.S. commander inviting his Chinese counterparts to observe military games. The two countries temporarily broke off military ties after the 2001 collision between a Chinese fighter jet and an American spy plane.
In November 2007, China and the United States agreed to set up a defense hot line and boost military cooperation in other areas. Defense Secretary Robert Gates met with China’s defense chief General Cao Gangchuan. Gates said, “The United States has a relationship with China that is candid, constructive and cooperative.” Tensions remained ons a number of issues though.
Later in the month the Chinese government refused permission at last minute for the U.S. aircraft carrier USS Kitty Hawk to make a long-scheduled Thanksgiving stop in Hong Kong, where hundreds of family members of the seamen hoped to meet up for Thanksgiving dinner. It was not clear why Beijing withdrew permission. Some said it was because of meeting between Bush and the Dalai Lama and the sale of weapons to Taiwan. At the last, last minute, Beijing okayed the visit but by that time it was too late: the aircraft carrier was on its way back to its home base in Japan. The Chinese also refused two naby minesweepers seeking to enter Hong Kong harbor to escape a storm. That move was particularly disturbing because it violated the international rule to provide safe harbor for ships in trouble.
In late January 2008, a U.S. warship---the flag ship of 7th fleet, the USS Blue Ridge---docked in Hong Kong. It was the first time an American warship docked in Hong Kong since the Kitty Hawk was denied. In late April 2008, the Kitty Hawk docked in Hong Kong.
China has shown only a superficial willingness to create a dialogue with the United States on defense matters, China seems especially reticent to discuss nuclear weapons. An invitation by Washington to the head of China’s nuclear weapons command was ignored by Beijing.
In October 2009, U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates welcomed a top Chinese general---Xu Caihou, vice chairman of China’s Central Military Commission and China’s second highest ranking officer “to the Pentagon for 75 minutes of talks and said that such talks were important and needed to be carried out on a routine basis. Around the same time Beijing decided to allow the U.S. Air Force to search for U.S. victims who died when a bomber crashed in southern China in 1950.
Arms Sales to Taiwan
Zhao Ziyang and Reagan Beijing’s main beef with Washington is the selling of weapons to Taiwan. In late 2008 and early 2009, military contacts between the United States and China was suspended for five months over the October 2008 sale of $6.5 billion worth of arms to Taiwan.
In January 2010, the Obama administration angered Beijing by approving a $6.4 billion weapons sale to Taiwan, which included 60 UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters, 114 Patriot Advanced Capability missiles, mine hunter ships and advanced communications equipment but did not include the F-16 jets that Taiwan really wants and had been promised but never delivered in past Taiwan-U.S. deals. China responded to the sale by suspending military exchanges and threatening sanctions against U.S. defense companies.
In February 2010, the U.S. aircraft carried USS Nimitz made a scheduled port of call in Hong Kong despite a threat by China to suspended military exchanges after the United States announced it was going to sell arms to Taiwan. However several high-level military exchanges between armed forces commanders were postponed because of the Taiwan arms deal.
Disputes in Asia Involving China Increase U.S. Influence
Rising frictions between China and its neighbors in 2010 over disputes about islands amd maritime territory in the South China Sea and the East China Sea have given the United States an opportunity to strengthen its position in east Asia that has been diminished in recent years by China’s rise, the U.S. Being bogged down in Iraq and Afghanistan and China’s efforts to draw it neighbors into its orbit. [Source: Edward Wong, New York Times, September 22, 2010]
Washington has thrown itself into the middle of heated territorial disputes between China and Southeast Asian nations despite stern Chinese warnings that it mind its own business. The United States is carrying out naval exercises with South Korea in order to help Seoul rebuff threats from North Korea. The tense standoff between Japan and China over a Chinese fishing trawler captured by Japanese ships in disputed waters is pushing Japan back under the American security umbrella. [Ibid]
The U.S. has been smart, Carlyle A. Thayer, a professor at the Australian Defense Force Academy who studies security issues in Asia, told the New York Times. It has done well by coming to the assistance of countries in the region. At an ASEAN meeting in September 2010 the U.S. said it would support other Southeast Asian countries said free navigation in the area was a U.S. “national interest” and called for a “code of conduct” be established for “legitimate claims in the South China Sea.” [Ibid]
Some Chinese military leaders and analysts see an American effort to contain China. Feng Zhaokui, a Japan scholar at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, said in an article on Tuesday in The Global Times, a populist newspaper, that the United States was trying to nurture a coalition against China. In August 2010, Rear Adm. Yang Yi wrote an editorial for The PLA Daily, published by the Chinese Army, in which he said that on one hand, Washington wants China to play a role in regional security issues. On the other hand, he continued, it is engaging in an increasingly tight encirclement of China and is constantly challenging China’s core interests. [Ibid]
Asian countries suspicious of Chinese intentions see Washington as a natural ally. In Japan, insecurity about China’s presence has served as a wake-up call on the importance of the Japan-U.S. alliance, said Fumiaki Kubo, a professor of public policy at the University of Tokyo. [Ibid]
United States, China and Economics
Luo Ping, director-general of China’s Banking Regulatory Commission, said, “We hate you guys, but there is nothing much we can do.” One history professor told Theroux, "the Chinese are interested only in two things in the world---power and money. America has more power and money than anyone else, That is why the Chinese will always need the friendship of America."
Harvard history professor Niall Ferguson coined the term “Chimerica” to describe the way the Chinese and American economies have become fused. He told the Global Viewpoints Network: “the Chinese did the saving, the Americans the spending. The Chinese did the exporting, the Americans the importing. The Chinese did the lending, the Americans the borrowing.”
On the impact of China’s huge holdings of U.S. debt, Ferguson said, the question then becomes, how the relationship will evolve or even survive as Americans has spent all they can and can no longer borrow any more and Chinese have become have become fed up with American profligacy like “a spouse with a maxed out credit card” but still needs Americans to buy its products to provide jobs in the trade sector.
China sometimes uses economic threats to keep the U.S. from interfering in political matters. China, for example, threatened to withdraw from a $2 billion deal with Boeing and but planes from Airbus instead if Sino-American relations worsened. The United States sometimes threatens to impose sanctions on China but analysts says sanctions would result in billions in losses to U.S. companies, provide European and Japanese rivals with opportunities to step in and steal their business, and the sanctions wouldn’t accomplish much anyway. .
Critics of China’s economic policy accuse China of “failure to play by the rules,”“mercantilism” and “illegal currency manipulation.” In December 2006, the United States and China held tense trade talks with the United States trying hard to get Beijing to change its economic policies and China responding just as adamantly that it would do what it wanted.
Many American politicians accuse cheap Chinese labor and Beijing monetary policy as taking away American jobs but overall a booming Chinese economy has been more positive than negative for Americans. Much of the profits from products produced by cheap Chinese labor ends up in the United States not China. Morgan Stanley estimated that cheap exports from China gave low-income Americans an additional $billion in purchasing power over 10 years.
See Economics, Trade .
China’s Economic Leverage Over the United States
Francis Fukuyama wrote in Yomiuri Shimbun, “Chinese export surpluses have fueled the structural imbalances that were at the root of the 2008-09 financial crisis. By providing low-cost capital to the United States, the Chinese created a kind of narcotic, and Americans were only too happy to become addicted to the drug of cheap credit that helped to power the housing bubble and subsequent bust. Through its determination to defend an undervalued currency, China has aided its export industries while in effect deindustrializing the rest of the world. It is not just American jobs that are being lost to Chinese competition; low-cost manufacturers all over Latin America, Asia and Africa are shutting down in the face of Chinese exports. While China has recently promised to revalue its currency in advance of the Group of 20 summit in Canada, changes are likely to be slow and small, given the political importance of China's export industries. In any event, the gesture is coming too late to undo the damage of the past 10 years of Chinese policy.” [Source: Francis Fukuyama, Yomiuri Shimbun, June 28, 2011]
“There is no theoretical difference between an undervalued renminbi [yuan] and an overt government subsidy to Chinese export industries. Had the Chinese government done the latter, the United States and other countries would have accused China of unfair trade practices before the World Trade Organization and threatened it with countervailing tariffs. Instead, American officials tried to talk China to death, under an ideologically driven premise that tough trade sanctions would amount to a form of protectionism. In the end, U.S. dependence on Chinese purchases of its sovereign debt prevented any strong action on its part.” [Ibid]
American Foreign Aid to China
In August 2011, Kyodo reported, a group of bipartisan U.S. senators called for an end to U.S. development aid to China."With more than $3 trillion in foreign exchange reserves and a double- digit economic growth rate, China certainly has the financial resources to forgo assistance from multilateral development organizations...and to care for its citizens without relying on U.S. assistance," they said. The United States has provided more than $275 million in development assistance to China since 2011 for projects such as expanding Internet access and improving public transportation.
Britain and Australia decided to stop foreign aid to China in 2011. China also continues to receive billions of dollars in development programs and infrastructure loans provided through multinational institutions such as the United Nations, the Asian Development Bank and the World Bank.
Is China the Developed Country and America the Developing Country?
In a Wall Street Journal article that some thought was not a little over the top, Robert J. Herbold wrote: “Recently I flew from Los Angeles to China to attend a corporate board-of-directors meeting in Shanghai, as well as customer and government visits there and in Beijing. After the trip was over, in thinking about the United States and China, it was not clear to me which is the developed, and which is the developing, country. [Source: Robert J. Herbold, Wall Street Journal, July 9 2011; Mr. Herbold, a retired chief operating officer of Microsoft Corporation, is the managing director of The Herbold Group, LLC and author of "What's Holding You Back” Ten Bold Steps That Define Gutsy Leaders" (Wiley/Jossey-Bass, 2011)]
Infrastructure: Let's face it, Los Angeles is decaying. Its airport is cramped and dirty, too small for the volume it tries to handle and in a state of disrepair. In contrast, the airports in Beijing and Shanghai are brand new, clean and incredibly spacious, with friendly, courteous staff galore. They are extremely well-designed to handle the large volume of air traffic needed to carry out global business these days. In traveling the highways around Los Angeles to get to the airport, you are struck by the state of disrepair there, too. Of course, everyone knows California is bankrupt and that is probably the reason why. In contrast, the infrastructure in the major Chinese cities such as Shanghai and Beijing is absolute state-of-the-art and relatively new.
Government Leadership: Here the differences are staggering. In every meeting we attended, with four different customers of our company as well as representatives from four different arms of the Chinese government, our hosts began their presentation with a brief discussion of China's new five-year-plan. This is the 12th five-year plan and it was announced in March 2011. Each of these groups reminded us that the new five-year plan is primarily focused on three things: 1) improving innovation in the country; 2) making significant improvements in the environmental footprint of China; and 3) continuing to create jobs to employ large numbers of people moving from rural to urban areas. Can you imagine the U.S. Congress and president emerging with a unified five-year plan that they actually achieve (like China typically does)?
Government Finances: This topic is, frankly, embarrassing. China manages its economy with incredible care and is sitting on trillions of dollars of reserves. In contrast, the U.S. government has managed its financials very poorly over the years and is flirting with a Greece-like catastrophe. Human Rights/Free Speech: In this area, our American view is that China has a ton of work to do. Their view is that we are nuts for not blocking pornography and antigovernment points-of-view from our youth and citizens.
Reasons and Cure: Given all of the above, I think you can see why I pose the fundamental question: Which is the developing country and which is the developed country? The next questions are: Why is this occurring and what should the U.S. do? Let's face it?we are getting beaten because the U.S. government can't seem to make big improvements. Issues quickly get polarized, and then further polarized by the media, which needs extreme viewpoints to draw attention and increase audience size. The autocratic Chinese leadership gets things done fast (currently the autocrats seem to be highly effective). What is the cure? Washington politicians and American voters need to snap to and realize they are getting beaten”and make big changes that put the U.S. back on track: Fix the budget and the burden of entitlements; implement an aggressive five-year debt-reduction plan, and start approving some winning plans. Wake up, America!
When asked if the Wenzhou train crash changed his views, Herbold said, “Not at all. The fact is, you’re going to run into bumps as you try to come out of what was the incredible doldrums that China was in in the ‘50s and ‘60s and ‘70s; that train wreck certainly was one. On the other hand, you’ve got to give the country credit for really pushing the frontiers of these areas, in terms of roads, in terms of trains, and the airports and the like. And they’re going to make mistakes, and they’re going to learn from them.
Text Sources: New York Times, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, Times of London, National Geographic, The New Yorker, Time, Newsweek, Reuters, AP, Lonely Planet Guides, Compton’s Encyclopedia and various books and other publications.
© 2008 Jeffrey Hays
Last updated April 2012