Maturing at 30: U.S.-China Relations

Posted by DipNote Bloggers
February 4, 2009
Vice President Walter Mondale and Chinese Diplomat Chai Tse-Min in 1979

About the Authors: Douglas G. Spelman served as U.S. Consul General in Shanghai and Susan Thornton serves as Deputy Director of the Office of Chinese and Mongolian Affairs at the Department of State.

January 1, 2009 marked the 30th anniversary of the establishment of U.S. diplomatic relations with the People's Republic of China. Several events here and in China commemorated this momentous event. Perhaps the most significant was a commemorative seminar held in Beijing on January 12-13 that featured Jimmy Carter, the former president who displayed courage and foresight in bringing the politically sensitive negotiations with Chinese leader Deng Xiaoping to a successful conclusion, and his National Security Advisor Zbigniew Brzezinski.

Other participants included former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, renowned for his role in paving the way for President Nixon’s visit to China in 1972, and Lt. Gen. Brent Scowcroft, who served presidents Ford and George H.W. Bush as National Security Advisor. The U.S. Ambassador, Clark Randt, attended, as did Sharon Woodcock, the widow of Leonard Woodcock, who conducted the delicate negotiations in Beijing and who became the first U.S. ambassador to the People’s Republic of China. With her were four of her late husband’s successors as U.S. ambassadors to China. The seminar was jointly sponsored by the Chinese People’s Institute for Foreign Affairs (CPIFA) and the Wilson Center’s Kissinger Institute on China and the United States, with the National Committee on U.S.-China Relations serving as a co-sponsor. Many former senior Chinese officials also attended.

Discussions during the two-day seminar ranged from fascinating anecdotes to reflections on the changing strategic rationale underpinning the U.S.-China relationship. Speakers frankly acknowledged the inevitable problems that arise in relations between two such large and important countries but were generally optimistic that wise leaders could sustain continued progress in bilateral ties. Sharon Woodcock recalled the difficult final session between Ambassador Woodcock and Deng Xiaoping when they agreed, just hours before the announcement, to move ahead with normalization despite unresolved differences, an agreement capped by a historic handshake.

Former Chinese State Councilor Tang Jiaxuan noted how, despite contentious incidents like the bombing of the Chinese Embassy in Belgrade and the mid-air collision of a U.S. surveillance aircraft and a Chinese fighter plane, both sides had worked together to ensure that the relationship stayed on a constructive course. Former Secretary of State Kissinger detailed the challenges and opportunities facing the two countries and stressed the importance of working together to preserve a stable and peaceful world. PRC Vice-Foreign Minister He Yafei called for joint actions to address global problems.

Thirty years of successfully managing this complex relationship is certainly worth marking and reflecting upon. And while the focus has often been on the decisions of top leaders of the two countries, it is the contributions of working level officials, academics, business persons and the general public that have provided the essential content for a broad and deep relationship. While we have a large and growing list of common interests with China, we must keep in mind that we do not share a number of key values. One of our most delicate challenges is to find effective ways to address these differences. Finally, while the U.S.-China relationship is of unique importance in the world today, we must not pursue our bilateral ties with Beijing in ways that slight the interests of other important nations, such as Japan, Russia, India, and the nations of Southeast Asia, to name only a few.

Comments

Comments

Zharkov
|
United States
February 4, 2009

Zharkov in U.S.A. writes:

We can thank Mr. Nixon and Mr. Kissinger for doing the right thing and engaging China, and after that, we can condemn Mr. Kissinger for trying to pass off "One World Government" or "New World Order" as something desirable for America.

A New World Order is not what we need, as the current economic collapse is demonstrating. When financial systems merge into one, a local collapse becomes a global collapse, and government mismanagement of the finances of one country is no longer isolated in effect but spreads world-wide.

China has evolved into a modern nation through the hard work of its people and its government -- let's not throw that progress away by joining a New World Order and submitting sovereignty to be mismanaged by remote leaders in foreign lands.

Takashi
|
Japan
February 4, 2009

Takashi in Japan writes:

The handshake between the United States and China was a shock to our country at that time, I have read in a book.

But we strived to make the same thing come true between China and our country, and has succeeded in it. I think this one was very important for our country.

Due to the recent recession, there are more and more people losing their jobs in our country. Presently, I have a slight piece of job, but I don't know how it will going to be.

However, if we all get together, help each other, hopefully as much as possible, I think we can overcome this present situation.

Syrian P.
|
Syria
February 6, 2009

SNP in Syria writes:

One can not help but respect the brightness of Americas. They managed through Diplomacy and sheer cunning not only to turn an arch foe anti capitalist Communist regime into a friend, but even slaved them to produce just about most of what American consumer needs and wants. All while business owners in New York are running their businesses not out of Brooklyn and Skokie but out on a yachts docked in Aruba and Cayman Isl., paid for by the 5000 percent markup on those goods made by the Comis comrades, many in shackled labor, other in prison style work camps. Communism is despicable, so no pity for the rice patty farmer that swore by Mao book, even if Americans told him and his comrades to take a hike, forget about those trillions owed for your life long slave labor, you are communists anyway, why you need capital, it is a crime to own it, it is even bigger crime to seek it, read MAO dudes. Hail Chiang Kai-chek and American brilliant strategy and strategists. One wonders, could not Americans use the same shrewd, cunning mind into ousting Saddam and convincing a rag tag illiterate regime in Afghanistan to make and oil and pipeline deal without having to kill more than a million humans and spend a Trillion Dollar. Or is the underlying answer is simple, WASPs were running America then and JNEOCONs and puppets running America lately out of the Office of Special Planning at the Pentagon. Like the American General who initially managed the Iraq fiasco (Frank) said -- the D.F.P. running Washington now?

Terry
|
Connecticut, USA
February 5, 2009

Terry in Connecticut writes:

Remember, in 1979 Pres. Jimmy Carter also met with the Chinese. Hopefully we can have better relations with them than the last 8 years.

Takashi
|
Japan
February 5, 2009

Takashi in Japan writes:

Well, I do remember President Carter, I love him, but I just didn't know the fact you mentioned.

It's hard to say, but we might feel sorrow if we start from denying the last 8 years.

Let's have high hopes, not taking things for granted.

adam
|
New York, USA
February 6, 2009

Adam in New York writes:

Yea thats great we have diplomatic relations with china but what about the numerous incidents over the years of chinese spies stealing our economic and military technologies?!? Or the millions of times everyday that someone tries to attack or hack into our cyber networks be it the pentagon and elsewhere?? Or how about the fact that they are turning a blind eye to the genocide in Darfur and have been pushing nations that host our military bases to kick us out. How long is this going to keep going on by China before we start pushing back and letting them feel the consequences of interferring in our affairs?

David J.
|
Illinois, USA
February 8, 2009

David J. in Illinois writes:

I hope that the donation that had been put on hold can now finally be resolved considering the vital need for everyone to do their part DW Resources is putting fourth a valiant effort to help those in need..now we too are in need not for a bail out..but instead our way of helping promote good relations abroad during these difficult times. My our offering receive the full extent of gratuity allowed in return for us to continue to help those in need.

Thank You Mrs "C"

Zharkov
|
United States
February 10, 2009

Zharkov in U.S.A. writes:

The loss of military secrets to China reached a peak during the Clinton Administration, including the loss of our W88 Hydrogen Bomb warhead plans, missile guidance and targeting technology, stealth bomber technology, stealth submarine technology, and a lot more that remains secret. Israeli spies manage to get the same information out of us, so our federal government leaks defense secrets like a broken toilet.

China and Israel are very good at the spying business, and they are our friends. Imagine what our enemies are getting now. If they can't put cameras in your bathroom, our federal government legally can. I can't wait to see myself taking a shower on Facebook, courtesy of the FBI.

tony
|
District Of Columbia, USA
February 11, 2009

Tony in Washington writes:

What a change in 30 years.

Tom
|
California, USA
February 11, 2009

Tom in California writes:

Let's also remember the third party in the normalization of U.S.-PRC diplomatic relations -- the government and people of Taiwan. Contrary to the dire expectations of 30 years ago when the U.S. cut relations with Taipei, the people of Taiwan have prospered and developed a vibrant democracy. The new U.S. administration should find ways to maintain a healthy and supportive "unofficial" relationship with Taiwan while also strengthening ties with the PRC.

Tong
|
China
February 14, 2009

Tong in China writes:

In my opinion, as Brezinski is the main foreign policy advisor of Jimmy Carter, and he is also the main foreign policy of Barack Obama as seen in the election 2008, I have a strong feeling that Carter's foreign policy will continue in Obama's administration. As Sino-U.S. relationship began in Carter's admin, it will develop further on in the Obama admin.

Rebecca
|
Mali
February 15, 2009

Rebecca in Mali writes:

We should work towards establishing a single currency with China. The window of opportunity for this is in the next 20-30 years. After that, the Chinese economy will have surpassed the U.S. economy and there may be no real interest from Beijing in such an undertaking. For our true long-term strenght, America should put this proposition on the table now and work to make it a reality.

Venkat
|
United States
February 15, 2009

Venkat in U.S.A. writes:

China is a cunning nation which is just using the Free Market Economic System and the Free Political System of the United States and the Western Nations to grow strong economically and militarily. It is ruled by a few Military and Political Rulers, who have usurped power from and denied freedom to more than a billion of their own citizens.

Its rulers are biding time and WILL CONFRONT the U.S. and the FREE DEMOCRACIES, aligning China with other FREEDOM DEFICIT coutries like Russia, Middle East Monarchies, and Communists/Socialists/Dictatorships elsewhere. It has already formed alliance like SCO and os actively engaging with other like minded (freedom deficit) countries in Africa, Asia, and South America.

It is already stalemating the U.S. and the WEST in the United Nations, joining hands with Russia.

The next big WORLD conflict will be between the FREE and UN-FREE countries.

Bush had the right idea of introducing DEMOCRACY to the Middle East, though it did not take off as expected. Only history will tell whether he was right. It is in the interest of the U.S. to promote democracy and open up these societies. It is the public opinion in such countries which will prevent confrontation with others and reduce terrorism.

The U.S. and other democracies should ask for a price from the FREEDOM DEFICIT countries like China and Middle East, if they want to do trade with us. They have to introduce TIMEBOUND, meaningful and verifiable political reforms in their societies, liberating their own people to enjoy the RIGHTS OF FREEDOM OF THOUGHT AND EXPRESSION any HUMAN BEING deserves.

.

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