Courtesy Reuters

A China Policy for the Next Administration

"Everybody talks about it, but nobody does anything about it." The old saw about the weather might well be applied to America's China policy. After the dramatic events of 1971-73 which initiated the long overdue process of "normalization" of relations between the United States and the People's Republic of China, the past three years have witnessed a lull in the relationship. At the start of President Richard Nixon's second term, the establishment of formal diplomatic relations was expected before the 1976 presidential election. The Sino-American joint communiqué of February 22, 1973, authorizing the parties to open liaison offices in each other's capital, and the termination of American military operations in Vietnam in early 1973 seemed to clear the path for a serious effort at normalization.

What actually happened thereafter, of course, was rather different. First Watergate, then the collapse of our anti-communist allies in Indochina, and now our presidential election have prevented the Administration from moving forward to complete normalization in accordance with the Shanghai Communiqué of February 1972. Sino-American contacts have cooled and may deteriorate unless carefully nurtured.

What will happen after the November election? The media have been filled with analysis, prediction and speculation. Certain politicians and pundits claim the Ford Administration intends to complete the normalization process immediately after the election, whether it wins or loses. Other rumors suggest that Secretary of State Henry Kissinger may do the deed during a pre-election visit to Peking in a daring effort to capture the voters' imagination. New Chinese Premier Hua Kuo-feng has said that he does not expect progress on normalization prior to the election, but increasing Chinese pressure for post-election normalization has been felt in recent months. There have even been hints that if the United States does not act soon in fulfilling the terms of the Shanghai Communiqué, Peking cannot rule out the possibility of improving its relations with the Soviet Union.

Administration spokesmen reaffirm President Gerald Ford's commitment to complete the normalization process but deny that the United States has any timetable

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