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Research Report

Staying the Course:: Opportunities and Limitations in U.S.-China Relations

Jack N. Merritt
Walter B. Slocombe
Copyright Date: Sep. 1, 2002
Published by: Atlantic Council
Pages: 51
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Table of Contents

  1. (pp. v-vi)
    Christopher J. Makins

    The advent of the new U.S. administration in 2001 brought the customary review of U.S. foreign policy broadly, and specifically of relations with the People’s Republic of China (PRC) and Taiwan, as well as an early practical test of those relations. Observers and practitioners of U.S.-PRC and U.S.-Taiwan relations in Washington, Beijing, Taipei and throughout Asia watched during the year to see the impact not only of the change in foreign policy approach of the new administration, but also of events such as the mid-air collision involving a U.S. EP-3 aircraft near Hainan Island in April.

    By the end of...

  2. (pp. 1-8)

    As of mid-2002 the PRC’s policy is clear: the Chinese are emphasizing, at least in addressing foreign audiences, the positive, stressing their desire for an improved, and hopefully more stable, relationship with the United States. The PRC leadership, who clearly attaches very high importance to the interaction of the U.S. and Chinese presidents, saw highly positive signs in President Bush’s description, during his visit to Shanghai in October 2001, of China as a great nation and in his statement of a policy of seeking a “cooperative, constructive” relationship with China. They stress that the United States and China have many...

  3. (pp. 8-12)

    Taiwan is also in the midst of major, but very different, political and economic challenges. Taiwan is in the process of consolidating its political transformation from the authoritarian, mainlander-dominated system of the past to a democratic system that will necessarily reflect the choices of the actual population of the island. This political transition is exemplified by the KMT’s loss not only of the presidency and its status as the largest party in the legislature but also by deep fissures in the party organization and membership. Dismantling the long-standing “leading role” of the KMT in economic and military, as well as...

  4. (pp. 12-14)

    The United States should not unquestioningly accept Beijing’s insistence that the Taiwan issue dominates and defines our relationship, but it does have a critical interest in the Taiwan issue. A crisis over Taiwan is the only foreseeable issue with a potential for direct military conflict between China and the United States. For the United States to stand aside if China launched an unprovoked attack on Taiwan would not only be an abandonment of a loyal, democratic friend, but a terrible blow to U.S. credibility and influence in Asia and around the world. Yet a war over Taiwan against a China...

  5. (pp. 15-22)

    1. Current prospects for good relations between the United States and China are the most promising in recent years: the Chinese leadership has made a conscious decision to minimize areas of conflict and seek areas of cooperation.

    A. The events of September 11 and making common cause in the war on terrorism contribute to this promising environment as a catalyst for aligning China with the United States and most of the global community. However, China and the United States have significantly different perspectives on what constitutes terrorism, and the war on terrorism is not likely in itself to be a major...