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Reviews the US debate between those favouring constructive engagement and those calling for China's censure and isolation on account of human rights abuses. US policy-makers should seek to extend economic ties while also speaking frankly on human rights issues -- it is impolitic to make the former conditional on the latter.
There are many nationalisms in China's tradition, aggrieved, isolationist, assertive, and expansionist, all of which are possible in the future. But the nationalism of the mid-1980s is 'confident' that (1) through involvement in world affairs the PRC can attain wealth and power while preserving its national essence (2) better relations with the USSR, Japan and the USA will allow concentration on domestic development (3) the PRC's improved world and economic standing will also bear fruit with Korea, Indochina and Taiwan. Outlines the many factors, particularly generational change and greater awareness of the outside world, which support 'confident' nationalism.
While the past decade of Sino-American relations has been largely constructive, the ten years have not been on a steady incline. Rather, there have been two strong forward spurts, from spring 1971 through May 1973, and from May 1978 through early 1980. The relationship has also endured two periods of some acrimony and erosion: from the fall of 1975 to late 1976 and from mid-1980 to the effort to stabilize the relationship reflected in the communiqué on arms sales to Taiwan that was agreed in August 1982. In addition to the periods of rapid forward movement and retrogression, several periods are best portrayed through metaphors such as "plateaus" or "mixed pictures." Even the best periods were punctuated by moments of doubt and uncertainty, while the phases of deterioration were constrained by a common desire to limit the erosion and to preserve a more positive public facade than the private exchanges warranted.
For nearly a decade, perhaps the single most successful foreign policy the United States has pursued has been our new relationship with the People's Republic of China. As former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger's memoirs make clear, President Richard M. Nixon and China's leaders took bold advantage of their common adversarial relationship with the Soviet Union and terminated the Sino-American enmity which had so damaged our countries in the previous two decades. The Nixon Administration fashioned a bipartisan China policy which, despite occasional lapses, has been carefully pursued ever since.
After a period of studied withdrawal from the world scene from 1966 to 1969, the People's Republic of China has returned to the international diplomatic and trading arenas with vigor and imagination. President Nixon's projected visit to Peking symbolizes the rapid turnabout. Three years ago U.S. bombs were falling within miles of the Chinese border and fears of a Sino-American war were rampant in the two countries. Indeed, in 1967-68, when China had only one ambassador abroad, its trade had dropped and its relations with its neighbors had reached all-time lows, many students of Chinese foreign policy (this author included) thought it entirely possible that Chinese leaders had become overwhelmed by domestic problems of an enduring nature. As a result, it was thought that China was turning inward and was unlikely to play an active role on the world scene in the early 1970s.