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Same Bed, Different Dreams: Managing U.S.- China Relations, 1989-2000

Copyright Date: 2001
Edition: 1
Pages: 510
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  • Book Info
    Same Bed, Different Dreams
    Book Description:

    The title of this unique insider's look at a crucial decade of Sino-American interchange derives from a Chinese expression that describes a relationship of two people whose lives are intimately intertwined but who do not fundamentally communicate with each other. David M. Lampton, former president of the National Committee on U.S.-China Relations, demonstrates that while the United States and China have enormous interests at stake in their bilateral relationship, neither has been particularly deft in dealing with the other. His fascinating account shows how the processes of globalization, along with the development of international regimes and multilateral organizations, have brought America and China increasingly close in the global bed. At the same time, their respective national institutions, interests, popular perceptions, and the very characters of their two peoples, assure that the nations continue to have substantially different dreams. Lampton explores the reasons why the Sino-American relationship is so difficult for both nations to manage and suggests ways it can be more effectively conducted in the future. His unique experience in China—nearly thirty years as a scholar, as the head of a policy-oriented exchange organization, and as director of Washington think-tank research programs—enabled him to spend extended periods with Chinese leaders and see them as they encountered America, as well as to observe U.S. leaders as they tried to come to grips with Chinese circumstances. Among many other key events, Lampton witnessed firsthand the aftermath of Tiananmen Square, successive congressional battles over most-favored-nation tariff treatment, the end of the Bush era and the rocky beginning of the Clinton administration, the death of Deng Xiaoping and Jiang Zemin's transition to power, the reversion of Hong Kong to Chinese sovereignty, and the Asian financial crisis that unfolded from mid-1997 to the end of the decade. Lampton's careful documentary research is supplemented by interviews and accounts of his personal interaction throughout the period with leaders and key players in Washington, Beijing, Taipei, and Hong Kong. The book thus represents a singular combination of historical research, policy analysis, and personal observation, and offers guidance for those in both America and China who must shape this critical relationship in the twenty-first century.

    eISBN: 978-0-520-92897-8
    Subjects: History

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Preface
    (pp. ix-xiv)
    David M. Lampton
  4. INTRODUCTION: The Big Picture
    (pp. 1-12)

    This book addresses two simple questions: Why is the relationship between the United States and China so difficult for Washington and Beijing to manage? and How can it be handled more effectively? The book reaches one simple conclusion: both nations can improve upon the diplomacy of the first post–cold war decade, but their association will always be characterized by a complex mix of cooperation and contention, at best.

    This book offers ideas, not an exhaustive recapitulation of every development in U.S.-China relations following the end of the cold war. The Tiananmen tragedy of 1989, which deeply affected American and...


    • 1 TURNING POINTS: 1989–2000
      (pp. 15-63)

      From the time George Bush was sworn in on January 20, 1989, until Bill Clinton approached the end of his two-term presidency more than a decade later, U.S.-China relations experienced four particularly tense periods during which the convergence of events, particular leaders, and international and domestic circumstances pushed the relationship in new directions. At these critical junctures, Chinese and American leaders considered the costs of dramatically deteriorating bilateral relations and stepped back from the precipice in order to halt the decline or move in more productive directions. Nonetheless, each episode gave the relationship new substance and an altered tenor.


      (pp. 64-110)

      I have suggested that U.S.-China relations from 1989 to 1999 were characterized by a sequence of turning points at which warring personalities, incongruent domestic politics, clashing national interests and strategies, unpredictable external events, and often inaccurate perceptions converged to push bilateral relations in new directions. But the decade can also be understood as a period in which several recurrent issues dominated the bilateral agenda: security, economic and trade relations, and individual rights and governance (human rights). The principal security issues were big power and alliance relations, the priority to be accorded the traditional concept of sovereignty, proliferation and arms control,...

      (pp. 111-156)

      During the first post–cold war decade, particularly its first half,Washington and Beijing each thought that growing economic ties provided human rights leverage over the other. Many U.S. policymakers and interest groups acted on the assumption that economic sanctions and threats and Beijing’s growing dependence on the American export market could be parlayed into more humane governance in the PRC. Beijing did not agree, believing its huge economic potential gave it leverage over Washington. For most of the decade China was a very fast growing, large export market for the United States. Premier Li Peng put it with his usual...


      (pp. 159-203)

      In June 1998 I delivered a lecture at Nanjing University, and a student in the audience asked me: “China has not devalued its currency, even though we face heavy export competition from other nations in East Asia. China is a poor country, so what is a fair burden for China to bear in the face of the East Asian financial crisis?” In posing this question, the young woman captured the central issue confronting Chinese and American leaders as they seek to manage the bilateral relationship in the post–cold war era. What are the respective obligations of great powers to...

      (pp. 204-246)

      Relationships with third parties are central to the dynamics of the U.S.-China relationship. Historically, a principle of Chinese statecraft was to avoid dealing with foreign nations (particularly adversaries) as a group, preferring to deal bilaterally in order to exploit the differences among outsiders to one’s advantage. The nineteenth-century modernizer Li Hongzhang explained this proclivity as a way to “neutralize one poison with another.”¹ Similarly, given America’s worldwide interests and its many global alliances, its dealings with Beijing are rarely devoid of third-party considerations.

      Third-party relationships can facilitate or complicate the management of United States-China relations. When both Washington and Beijing...


    • 6 THE STORIES WE TELL OURSELVES: National Myths and the Mass Media
      (pp. 249-278)

      Understanding post–cold war U.S.-China relations requires one to first look at how the people of both nations perceive themselves, their modern relationship, their respective histories, and the necessities that these widely shared beliefs create for today’s citizenry and leadership. Divergent historical experiences and the conceptions of national role to which those experiences give rise create conflicting Chinese and American foreign policy impulses. While there are diverse views and self-perceptions among citizens and leaders within both countries,¹ there also are some very widely shared understandings within each nation. We turn to those shared, broad national understandings that are reflected in...

    • Illustrations
      (pp. None)
    • 7 THE SEAMLESS WEB: Domestic Politics and Foreign Relations
      (pp. 279-310)

      One central failing in the way leaders in Beijing and Washington have dealt with one other has been that while each side has recognized the constraints that its own political circumstance imposes on it, it has had little appreciation for the constraints that limit the other side. Daily requirements for political survival and the priority of domestic agendas have been central foreign policy drivers inbothcapitals.

      In China as well as in the United States, a leader’s losses or gains abroad affect his or her domestic position. Consequently, foreign policy is designed with an eye to domestic consequences, as...


      (pp. 313-355)

      Thus far we have examined the U.S.-China relationship from two vantage points: the level of global systems and the national level, particularly institutional arrangements, domestic politics, and beliefs that define both China and America. Each level adds a layer of complexity to management of the bilateral relationship. Consequently, the capacity of a single leader, or small groups of individuals, in either country to fundamentally alter the trajectory of the relationship is circumscribed.

      In both the United States and the PRC, the ability of an individual to alone determine the relationship has declined since the 1970s. In China, the system has...

    • 9 OF ENDS AND MEANS: Conclusions
      (pp. 356-378)

      In 1949–1950, the United States and the newly founded People’s Republic of China were at a fork in the road of their interaction. Mao Zedong and Harry Truman were constrained by domestic political forces as they made foreign policy decisions, their choices shaped by layers of inaccurate perceptions. The future costs of their decisions were unclear. Nonetheless, their choices shaped the next two decades in U.S.-China relations, and they paid a high price for those decisions—hundreds of thousands of dead and hundreds of billions of dollars, with the Korean and Vietnam conflicts being the most expensive episodes in...

    (pp. 379-386)
  10. Notes
    (pp. 387-450)
  11. Suggestions for Further Reading
    (pp. 451-462)
  12. Index
    (pp. 463-497)
  13. Back Matter
    (pp. 498-498)