China Viewpoints


In October 1999, the People’s Republic of China (PRC) celebrated its 50th birthday. But for the Chinese, 50 years may not mean that much—for while the PRC was officially established after China’s 1949 Communist revolution, China has the oldest continuous surviving civilization in the world. Archaeologists have found evidence of Neolithic man in China as far back as 3400 B.C., although historians often mark the beginning of Chinese civilization at the founding of the Shang dynasty in 1766 B.C.

The pride the Chinese take in their ancient civilization probably accounts for some of the tensions in U.S.-China relations. As former secretary of state Henry Kissinger explains, “China is a great country with a 5,000 year history. We’re a great country with a 200 year history. . . . The Chinese believe that they staggered through 4800 of their 5000 years without significant advice from the United States, so it is not self-evident to them that they must follow all our prescriptions.”

China’s initial relations with the West were characterized largely by humiliation at the hands of more technologically advanced European nations. After little contact between East and West throughout the Middle Ages, British traders in the 18th century began preying on the high numbers of opium addicts that were present in Chinese society at the time. The traders sold opium to Chinese addicts for money, and then used that money to purchase Chinese goods. China attempted to ban the importation of opium in 1839 and 1856, but Great Britain and other European nations forcefully opposed the bans. The result was the Opium Wars, which China lost decisively. “Since that fateful encounter,” writes history professor Bruce Cumings, “China’s central leaders have swayed this way and that in search of a principle for involvement with the West, a way to grow strong while retaining national dignity, to become modern while remaining distinctively Chinese.”

In the twentieth century, China underwent two revolutions in its attempts to modernize. The first was in 1912, when peasant uprisings culminated in the end of more than two millennia of imperial rule. A weak republic ruled China until its second revolution in 1949, when Communist leader Mao Zedong declared the People’s Republic of China.

Coming at the start of America’s cold war with the Soviet Union, China’s Communist revolution resulted in a suspension of U.S.-China relations for the next twenty years. Not until 1972, when President Richard Nixon visited China’s capital city of Beijing, were relations between the two nations reestablished. Nixon’s “opening” of China was only possible because conflicts between China and the Soviet Union led U.S. leaders to view China as something other than a potential enemy.

Even after the fall of the Soviet Union in 1992, the cold war still casts a shadow over U.S.-China relations. The ideological conflicts between communism and capitalism dominate many Americans’ views of China. Americans often protest the lack of free elections, free speech, and other human rights in China. They also condemn the PRC government’s control over the Chinese economy and call for more free enterprise.

These calls for greater economic freedom, at least, are being answered. China has been instituting substantial freemarket reforms since 1978, and as of 2001 boasts one of the fastest-growing economies in the world. This has led to speculation that, sometime in the first quarter of the twentyfirst century, China may rival or even surpass the United States as the world’s leading economic superpower. David Shambaugh, coauthor of the The China Reader, predicts that China and the United States “are likely to be the two dominant world powers during the twenty-first century.”

The prospect of China becoming a serious rival to the United States has made it one of the most important areas in U.S. foreign policy. Again, with the legacy of the cold war, some observers believe that conflict between China and the United States is inevitable. The 1997 book The Coming Conflict with China describes China as a “long-term adversary.” The prospect of China as an enemy is especially worrisome given China’s enormous population—approximately 20 percent of all humans on the planet are Chinese. But others are more optimistic: “No doubt China will be a nationalistic superpower that looks after its own interests first,” write Daniel Burstein and Arne de Keijzer, authors of Big Dragon: China’s Future, but they maintain that “China will be a challenge, but it needn’t become a threat.”

After two centuries of lagging behind the West in terms of industry, economy, and technology, a more modern—and thus more powerful—China is rapidly emerging. The authors in China: Opposing Viewpoints examine China’s rising power and what it may mean for the United States as well as for the international community in the following chapters: What Are the Most Serious Problems Facing China? What Is the State of Democracy and Human Rights in China? Does China Pose a Threat to the United States? What Principles Should Guide U.S. Foreign Policy Toward China? These chapters debate the myriad factors that U.S. leaders must consider as they face the daunting task of determining U.S. policy on China. As former national security advisor Zbigniew Brzezinski has written, “China is too big to be ignored, too old to be slighted, too weak to be appeased, and too ambitious to be taken for granted.”


221 B.C.: Much of what constitutes modern China is first united under the Qin dynasty.

206 B.C.–A.D. 220: After the death of the first Qin emperor and a brief civil war, the Han dynasty emerges. The imperial system and the bureaucratic administration developed under the Qin and Han dynasties provide a model for Chinese government for the next two millennia.

1298: Marco Polo, a Venetian explorer, writes a book about his travels in the Far East. His accounts of Oriental riches inspire other Western explorers.

1582: Matteo Ricci, an Italian Jesuit missionary, becomes the first foreigner permitted to live in Beijing.

1773: British traders begin paying for Chinese goods with opium rather than with Western goods or gold.

1839–42: The Opium War begins as China attempts to enforce its ban on Opium importing. The British respond by attacking several Chinese ports. The Chinese are easily defeated and the Treaty of Nanjing is signed in 1842. It stipulates that Chinese ports remain open to British trade and also cedes Hong Kong to the British.

1850: The Taiping Rebellion, the largest in Chinese history, begins as peasants revolt against the Qing dynasty. Not fully suppressed until 1864, the rebellion helps prepare the way for the end of the imperial system in the 20th century.

1856–60: A second Opium War pits China against Great Britain and France. It ends with the Chinese being forced to open more ports to trade with the West, legalize the importation of opium, and sanction Christian missionary activity.

1899–1902: The Boxer Rebellion occurs as antiforeign peasant groups known as Boxers attack Christian missionaries. An international force of British, French, American, German, Russian, and Japanese troops intervene, and China is ultimately forced to pay reparations to those countries and to permit for- eign troops to be stationed in Beijing.

1911–12: The failure of the Boxer Rebellion triggers more support for anti-imperial revolutionaries. The imperial system collapses with the abdication of Emperor Henry Pu-yi, ending over two millennia of monarchy. Revolutionaries led by Sun Yat- Sen take over the government, and the Republic of China (ROC) is declared. The Kuomintang, also known as the nationalists, becomes the dominant political party of the new government.

1917: During World War I China joins the Allies and declares war on Germany.

1919: At the peace conference in Versailles, France, Chinese demands are ignored and the former Chinese territory of Kiaochow is awarded to Japan. The May Fourth Movement occurs as students, workers, and merchants protest. China refuses to sign the Treaty of Paris.

1921–23: The period of Sino-Soviet collaboration begins as the Communist International disseminates literature in China to start Communist groups. Disillusioned with the West, many Chinese respond and form the Communist Party of China (CCP). The CCP merges with the Kuomintang, creating a left and right wing in that party.

1926–28: Aided by the Soviet Union, the Kuomintang overthrows warlords in Beijing. Afterwards, disagreements break out between Kuomintang leader Chiang Kai-shek and the CCP. Chiang launches a purge of Communists, as Kuomintang troops destroy the CCP leadership in Shanghai.

1931: Japan occupies Manchuria, Mongolia, and north...

(The entire section is 1432 words.)

For Further Discussion

Chapter 1
1. The viewpoints by Lester R. Brown, Chenggang (Charles) Wang, and Wayne M. Morrison discuss the food scarcity, environmental, and economic problems facing China. According to the authors, in what ways are these three problems related?

2. In Robert D. Kaplan’s view, how might each of the problems discussed in this chapter contribute to political instability in China?

Chapter 2
1. The U.S. Department of State argues that the Chinese government routinely violates rights that U.S. citizens take for granted. Abuses listed in the report include the arbitrary arrest and torture of citizens, censorship of the press, and persecution of religious groups. However, Ming Wan argues that the United States has ignored China’s “silent majority,” who, in her opinion, are willing to accept restrictions on their freedom if it will help their nation maintain political stability and achieve economic prosperity. In your opinion, is Wan’s argument that the majority of Chinese people support their government persuasive? Do you feel that U.S. condemnation of China’s human rights record is appropriate? Why or why not?

2. After reading the viewpoints by Harry Wu and by the Chinese government, do you believe that China’s one-child policy is justified? Do you think that individuals have the right to have as many children as they want? Explain your answers.

3. Do you agree with William Saunders...

(The entire section is 533 words.)

Organizations to Contact

The editors have compiled the following list of organizations concerned with the issues debated in this book. The descriptions are derived from materials provided by the organizations. All have publications or information available for interested readers. The list was compiled on the date of publication of the present volume; the information provided here may change. Be aware that many organizations take several weeks or longer to respond to inquiries, so allow as much time as possible.

American Enterprise Institute (AEI)
1150 17th St. NW, Washington, DC 20036
(202) 862-5800
The institute is a public policy research organization dedicated to preserving and strengthening government, private enterprise, foreign policy, and national defense. Its Asian Studies Program focuses on the growing offensive capabilities of China’s army, relations between Taiwan and mainland China, and economic and political reform in China. AEI’s magazine, American Enterprise, often deals with developments in Asia, and the institute also publishes several books on China.

Amnesty International (AI)
322 8th Ave., New York, NY 10001
(212) 807-8400
Amnesty International is an international organization that works to promote human rights. In 1999 it launched the “China: Ten Years After Tiananmen” campaign to raise awareness of the imprisonment of political dissidents in China. Details of the campaign are available on the group’s website. AI also publishes an annual report detailing human rights violations around the globe.

The Asia Society
725 Park Ave., New York, NY 10021
(212) 288-6400
The Asia Society is an educational organization dedicated to fostering understanding of Asia and communication between Americans and the peoples of Asia and the Pacific. Its “AskAsia” website ( is an online information source for students interested in Asia studies. Reports such as The 2000 Taiwan Presi- dential Elections are available on its website, and the society publishes the book China Briefing: The Contradictions of Change.

Brookings Institution
1775 Massachusetts Ave. NW, Washington DC 20036
(202) 797-6000
Founded in 1927, the institution conducts research and analyzes global events and their impact on the United States and U.S. foreign policy. It publishes the quarterly Brookings Review as well as numerous books and research papers on...

(The entire section is 1071 words.)

Chapter 1 Preface

“For most of its 3,500 years of history, China led the world in agriculture, crafts, and science, then fell behind in the 19th century when the Industrial Revolution gave the West clear superiority in military and economic affairs,” write the editors of the 1999 CIA World Factbook. As the 21st century begins, the country is beginning to modernize its economy, and in the process, is lifting millions of Chinese out of poverty. China is once again taking its place among the world’s great powers.

Still, China faces many challenges. For example, the nation’s move from an agricultural-based economy to an industrial one is causing enormous environmental problems. In addition, many Chinese are being left behind as China’s economy is transformed: From 60 to 100 million surplus rural workers are adrift between the villages and the cities, subsisting on part-time low-paying jobs. Some experts warn that this could lead to political instability in China, as these poor workers begin to demand action from the government.

All these difficulties are exacerbated by the sheer size of China. The nation is home to over 1.2 billion people, roughly one-fifth of the world’s total population. Thus, China’s most serious problems are occurring on an enormous scale. From air pollution and food shortages to economic or political upheaval, developments in China will inevitably affect the global community. The viewpoints in this chapter examine some of the most pressing problems facing China.

China’s Aging Population Will Cause Serious Problems

Nicholas Eberstadt is a visiting fellow of the Harvard Center for Population and Development Studies. In the following viewpoint, he predicts that as China’s population ages, the nation will face increasingly serious population-related problems. The first will be that by 2025, the number of elderly in China will be far greater than the number of working adults. The second is that the size of China’s work force will shrink, as today’s workers age, with proportionately fewer workers to replace them. Finally, because of the practices of sex-selective abortion and female infanticide in China, there are currently more boys than girls in China. By 2025, millions of adult Chinese males will be unable to find a bride and start a family.

As you read, consider the following questions:

1. What was the median age among Chinese in 1997, and what will it be in 2025, according to the author?

2. According to the Beijing Luntan essay quoted by Eberstadt, what future social problems will China likely experience as a result of the current disparity between male and female births?

While there is little about China’s position in the year 2025 that we can predict with confidence, one critical aspect of China’s future can be described today with some accuracy: her population trends. Most of the Chinese who will be alive in 2025, after all, have already been born.

The most striking demographic condition in China today is the country’s sparse birth rate. Though most of the population still subsists at Third World levels of income and education, fertility levels are remarkably low—below the level necessary for long-term population replacement, in fact. This circumstance of course relates to the notorious “One Child” policy of China’s Communist government, applied with varying degrees of force for nearly two decades.

Ironically, by laboring so ferociously to avoid one set of “population problems”—namely, “overpopulation”—Beijing has helped to ensure that another, even more daunting set of problems will emerge in the decades ahead. Those population problems will be, for Beijing and for the world, utterly without precedent. While impossible to predict their impact with precision, they will impede economic growth, exacerbate social tensions, and complicate the Chinese government’s quest to enhance its national power and security.

Population Growth in China Is Slowing
How can we know fairly well what China’s demography will look like 25 years from now? Because according to the latest estimates by the U.S. Bureau of the Census, about a billion of the 1.2 billion Chinese living on the mainland today will still be alive in 2025—accounting for about seven out of every ten of the 1.4 billion Chinese then alive.

The main population wildcard in China’s future is fertility. The Census Bureau suggests that the nation’s total fertility rate (TFR) now averages a bit under 1.8 births per woman per lifetime (significantly below the 2.1 births necessary for long-term population stability). For broad portions of the Chinese populace, fertility appears to be even lower— as depressed as 1.3 lifetime children per woman in some cities. In Beijing and Shanghai, TFRs may actually have fallen under one by 1995!

The Census Bureau assumes Chinese fertility will aver- age about 1.8 births per woman through 2025. But today’s childbearing takes place under the shadow of the country’s severe—and coercive—antichild campaign. Might not the birth rate leap up if that program were discarded or reversed? It’s impossible to be sure, but bits of evidence suggest that a revolution in attitudes about family size has swept China since Mao’s death—and that this would prevent fertility from surging back toward more traditional patterns, even if all governmental controls were relaxed. Consequently, the Bureau projects that China will be reaching zero population [growth] 25 years from now.

The “Graying” of China’s Population
But China’s population will look quite different than it does today, as the nearby chart reveals. China in 2025 will have fewer children: The population under 15 years of age is projected to be almost 25 percent smaller than today. The number of people in their late twenties may drop nearly 30 percent. But persons in their late fifties stand to swell in number by over 150 percent, and there will be more people between the ages of 55 and 59 than in any other five-year age span. Persons 65 years or older are likely to increase at almost 3.5 percent a year between now and 2025, accounting for over three-fifths of the country’s population growth.

In short, if Census Bureau projections prove correct, China’s age structure is about to shift radically from the “Christmas tree” shape so familiar among contemporary populations to something more like the inverted Christmas trees we see...

(The entire section is 2025 words.)

China’s Growing Population Will Lead to Worldwide Food Shortages

Lester R. Brown is president of the Worldwatch Institute, a nonprofit institute that raises awareness about global environmental problems. In the following viewpoint, excerpted from his book Who Will Feed China?: Wake-Up Call for a Small Planet, Brown contends that as China’s population grows, valuable cropland will be lost to industrialization. The country will have to import increasing amounts of grain to feed its people, which will lead in turn to worldwide increases in the price of food. China’s food shortages will become the world’s food shortages, Brown argues, thus sending a “wake-up call” to the rest of the world about the serious global problem of overpopulation.

As you read, consider the following questions:

1. In Brown’s view, how will industrialization in China result in less land that is available for raising food crops?

2. In the author’s opinion, what is the immediate challenge facing China?

We often hear that the entire world cannot reasonably aspire to the U.S. standard of living or that we cannot keep adding 90 million people a year indefinitely. Most people accept these propositions. Intuitively, they realize that there are constraints, that expanding human demand will eventually collide with the earth’s natural limits. Yet, little is said about what will actually limit the growth in human demands. Increasingly, it looks as though our ability to expand food production fast enough will be one of the earlier constraints to emerge. This is most immediately evident with oceanic fisheries, nearly all of which are being pushed to the limit and beyond by human demand. Water scarcity is now holding back growth in food production on every continent. Agronomic limits on the capacity of available crop varieties to use additional fertilizer effectively are also slowing growth in food production.

A Worldwide Increase in Food Prices
Against this backdrop, China may soon emerge as an importer of massive quantities of grain—quantities so large that they could trigger unprecedented rises in world food prices. If it does, everyone will feel the effect, whether at supermarket checkout counters or in village markets. Price rises, already under way for seafood, will spread to rice, where production is constrained by the scarcity of water as well as land, and then to wheat and other food staples. For the first time in history, the environmental collision between expanding human demand for food and some of the earth’s natural limits will have an economic effect that will be felt around the world.

It will be tempting to blame China for the likely rise in food prices, because its demand for food is exceeding the carrying capacity of its land and water resources, putting excessive demand on exportable supplies from countries that are living within their carrying capacities. But China is only one of scores of countries in this situation. It just happens to be the largest and, by an accident of history, the one that tips the world balance from surplus to scarcity.

Analysts of the world food supply/demand balance have recognized that the demand for food in China would climb dramatically as industrialization accelerated and incomes rose. They have also assumed that rapid growth in food production in China would continue indefinitely. But on this latter front, a closer look at what happens when a country is already densely populated before it industrializes leads to a very different conclusion. In this situation, rapid industrialization inevitably leads to a heavy loss of cropland, which can override any rises in land productivity and lead to an absolute decline in food production.

Lessons from Japan, South Korea, and Taiwan
Historically, there appear to be only three other countries that were densely populated in agronomic terms before industrializing— Japan, South Korea, and Taiwan. The common experience of these three gives a sense of what to expect as industrialization proceeds in China. For instance, the conversion of grainland to other uses, combined with a decline in multiple cropping in these countries over the last few decades, has cost Japan 52 percent of its grain harvested area, South Korea 46 percent, and Taiwan 42 percent.

As cropland losses accelerated, they soon exceeded rises in land productivity, leading to steady declines in output. In Japan, grain production has fallen 32 percent from its peak in 1960. For both South Korea and Taiwan, output has dropped 24 percent since 1977, the year when, by coincidence, production peaked in both countries. If China’s rapid industrialization continues, it can expect a similar decline.

While production was falling, rising affluence was driving up the overall demand for grain. As a result, by 1994, the three countries were collectively importing 71 percent of their grain.

Exactly the same forces are at work in China as its transformation from an agricultural to an industrial society progresses at a breakneck pace. Its 1990 area of grainland per person of 0.08 hectares is the same as that of Japan in 1950, making China one of the world’s most densely populated countries in agronomic terms. If China is to avoid the decline in production that occurred in Japan, it must either be more effective in protecting its cropland (which will not be easy, given Japan’s outstanding record) or it must raise grain yield per hectare faster during the next few decades than Japan has in the last few—an equally daunting task, considering the Japanese performance and the fact that China’s current yields are already quite high by international standards.

Loss of Cropland and Irrigation Water
Building the thousands of factories,...

(The entire section is 2355 words.)

China Faces Serious Environmental Problems

In the following viewpoint, Chenggang (Charles) Wang describes the environmental problems facing China, which include air pollution and acid rain, water pollution and water shortages, excess garbage, and deforestation. China’s problems are so enormous because of the sheer number of people involved, he explains, and will become more severe as the nation industrializes its economy. Wang is a senior scientist at Environmental Elements Corporation and a frequent lecturer on doing business with China.

As you read, consider the following questions:

1. How many of the world’s ten most polluted cities are in China, according to the study by the World Health Organization that the author cites?

2. What...

(The entire section is 2920 words.)

China Faces Serious Economic Problems

China has become one of the world’s fastest growing economies, asserts Wayne M. Morrison in the following viewpoint. Since 1979, China has been moving away from its communist state-controlled economy, adopting some principles of free trade, and privatizing many businesses. The country’s move toward free markets must continue, warns Morrison, if China is to overcome the many problems associated with its previously stagnant economy, which include inadequate energy and transportation systems as well as regulations that continue to inhibit free trade. Morrison is a researcher in the economics division of the Congressional Research Service, part of the Library of Congress.

As you read, consider the following questions:...

(The entire section is 3013 words.)

China Faces the Threat of Political Instability

As Robert D. Kaplan explains in the following viewpoint, China’s long history includes periods in which the populace has revolted against a weak central government, and periods in which “warlord” regimes have ruled with an iron fist. Kaplan argues that China is currently coming out of a “warlord” phase—the government of Mao Zedong’s Communists. As the Chinese government becomes less totalitarian, Kaplan notes, its control over China’s huge population will weaken. He warns that if economic and social conditions in China worsen, civil strife could result. Kaplan is a correspondent for the Atlantic Monthly and the author of several books, including An Empire Wilderness.

As you read, consider...

(The entire section is 1527 words.)

Chapter 1 Periodical Bibliography

The following articles have been selected to supplement the diverse views presented in this chapter. Addresses are provided for periodicals not indexed in the Readers’ Guide to Periodical Literature, the Alternative Press Index, the Social Sciences Index, or the Index to Legal Periodicals and Books.

Economist. “The Ageing of China,” November 21, 1998. Available from 25 St. James’s St., London, UK, SW1A 14G.

Elizabeth Economy. “Painting China Green,” Foreign Affairs, March/April 1999.

Jack A. Goldstone. “The Coming Chinese Collapse,” Foreign Policy, Summer 1995.

Mark A. Groomsbridge. “China’s Mixed Economy,”...

(The entire section is 199 words.)

Chapter 2 Preface

On May 4, 1989, approximately 100,000 students and workers marched through Beijing demanding democratic reforms in the government and the removal of the Chinese Communist Party leader, Deng Xiaoping. On May 20, the government declared martial law, and on June 3 and 4, troops were sent into Tiananmen Square, a historic site in the capital city, to stop the protests. The People’s Liberation Army, as the Chinese army is called, crushed the demonstrations, killing hundreds and injuring thousands more. Following the violence, the government arrested, imprisoned, and executed many suspected dissidents.

In the West, the violence at Tiananmen Square was reported as the “Tiananmen Square Massacre.” Images of soldiers in tanks pursuing students with protest signs left little doubt in Americans’ minds about the lack of democracy in China.

While most American observers have condemned the Chinese government’s human rights abuses, some suggest that the government’s crackdowns on dissent are necessary. Author Robert D. Kaplan argues, “Were China to have suddenly become a parliamentary democracy in 1989 at the time of the Tiananmen Square uprising, the average Chinese citizen would likely be worse off today.” By maintaining political stability, Kaplan argues, Chinese leaders were able to encourage economic growth, which will, in his view, eventually pave the way for democratic reforms in China.

In contrast to Kaplan’s rather optimistic view of Tiananmen, notable groups such as Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International continue to document the arrests, tortures, and executions that occur routinely in China. In their view, the international community should condemn China’s poor record on human rights and use economic sanctions or other pressures to encourage China to become more democratic.

China Is Becoming More Democratic

Henry S. Rowen is a professor of public policy and management at the Graduate School of Business at Stanford University. In the following viewpoint, he maintains that the People’s Republic of China is on its way to becoming a democracy. Rowen predicts that China will follow the examples of Taiwan and South Korea, which became more democratic as their economies improved. The government is allowing local elections to be held in villages, he notes, and is also beginning to institute fair laws regarding business transactions and the treatment of criminals. Rowen concludes that China is becoming freer each year, and will continue to do so as long as it becomes more prosperous.

As you read, consider the following questions:

1. When does the author predict that China will become a democracy?

2. What reforms has the Chinese government instituted regarding criminals, according to Rowen?

3. In the author’s view, what is the “worldwide—and Asian—norm” regarding the relationship between economic prosperity and political freedom?

When will China become a democracy? The answer is, around 2015.

There are two reasons for this forecast: One is positive changes there; the other is the effect of economic growth on freedoms throughout the world.

Freedom House [a nonprofit organization that promotes democracy and human rights] gives China a political freedom rating of zero: It is a one-party state, there are many “counterrevolutionaries” in prison, people are detained without trial, and there were more than two thousand summary executions in 1994. Nevertheless, China has come far since the disasters of the Great Leap Forward and the Cultural Revolution [two of Communist leader Mao Zedong’s efforts to economically and socially transform China], notably in three important areas.

Three Signs of Progress
Grassroots Democracy. The dissolution of the communes left no local governments and thus led to village elections. By the early 1990s, 90 percent of village committees had been elected.

Progress has been ragged. Local cadres resist losing privileges, and nonparty members often experience discrimination. Some assemblies require party membership for candidacy. There is some probable ballot fraud, and officials decide if voters can choose more than one candidate. Nevertheless, the principle of competitive elections has been established. Those who oppose party members are no longer “enemies of the people.” The concept of rule by law is accepted, with peasants learning about legal procedures and how to protect their rights.

The Rule of Law. Under communism, law is an instrument of politics. Many Chinese now, however, hold that government should observe its own rules. Values consistent with Western ideals of equality, justice, and legality—and also with ancient Chinese ideals—are expressed widely, and some are now embodied in legislation. Officials recognize that a market economy and foreign investment need stable and fair rules.

Contributing to the demand for law is the weakness of the state, with massive corruption, illegal businesses run by government agencies, and theft of government assets. Most basic is the party being outside the jurisdiction of the ordinary courts. Other problems are enforcing decisions in civil proceedings, the immunity of military enterprises, and bribery of judges.

The People’s Congress is rewriting the criminal laws. Defendants are not to be presumed guilty and will have their own lawyers. The police no longer will be able to hold people without charge. Doubtless these laws will often be violated, but their passage is significant.

The Mass Media. Economic liberalizing had the unintended...

(The entire section is 1550 words.)

China Is Not Becoming More Democratic

In the following viewpoint, James R. Lilley, a former U.S. ambassador to China and director of the American Institute in Taiwan, rejects the idea that China is becoming a democratic nation. Free market forces do seem to be pushing China toward Western-style capitalism, he admits, but he points out that China has a long history of authoritarian rule and that previous attempts by foreigners to influence China’s development have been met with violence. Lilley concludes that the Chinese people are more concerned with economic progress than with meeting westerners’ hopes for a political transformation in China.

As you read, consider the following questions:

1. What historical examples does the author give of instances in which foreigners attempted to influence China, and failed?

2. What is the “overriding slogan for most Chinese today,” in the author’s opinion?

3. What forces will influence the next generation of Chinese leaders, in Lilley’s view?

Will China transform itself into a Western-style democracy? Can the United States do anything to encourage this? Before answering, consider Yale professor Jonathan Spence’s book To Change China. Spence describes the failed attempts of foreigners, from the Jesuit Matteo Ricci in the seventeenth century to General George Marshall in the twentieth, to impose solutions on an imperfect China. In all cases, China was influenced but did not convert.

A History of Violence
Christianity came to a weakened China in force after the Opium War of 1840. The result was not a Christian China but the Taiping Rebellion, which killed 20 million Chinese and was led by an epileptic who believed he was the brother of Jesus Christ. Marxism came to China in 1921 when the Communist party of China was founded in Shanghai. The result was not a new socialist China in the Stalin model but the Great Leap Forward of 1959, when Chairman Mao hoped to propel China into the advanced stage of Communism. Instead, 40 million Chinese died—most of them starved to death in failed communes. When free market forces were introduced into Communist China in 1978 by Deng Xiaoping, the result was not an evolving democracy but the massacre at Tiananmen Square in 1989.

In short, when outsiders apply their standards to China and try to introduce new systems quickly or forcefully, what occurs is never quite what was planned. Tragedy can ensue. China does alter course, but in a Chinese way.

Today, free market forces are pushing back the state in nearly all sectors of China’s economy. Christianity has never been stronger. Yet China is still ruled by a single Communist party backed by a powerful...

(The entire section is 1110 words.)

Human Rights Abuses in China Are Widespread

The following viewpoint is excerpted from the U.S. Department of State’s 1999 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices. In it, the State Department lists the human rights violations that occurred in China in 1999, as well as the slow progress that China has made in the area. The authors maintain that the Chinese government routinely arrests, imprison, tortures, and executes individuals who are perceived to be threats to the Communist Party. Chinese citizens do not enjoy freedom of the press or freedom of religion, according to the report. Although the Chinese government has made some efforts to reform its legal system and institute local elections, the report notes that in general, China’s political atmosphere remains...

(The entire section is 2038 words.)

The United States Overemphasizes Human Rights Abuses in China

In the following viewpoint, Ming Wan argues that, while the state of human rights in China is poor according to Western standards, the West fails to realize that the average Chinese person does not place that much importance on human rights. The Chinese government’s official position is that human rights concerns are sometimes outweighed by the need to maintain political stability by suppressing dissent. Wan argues that public opinion in China also supports stability over freedom. Wan concludes that the United States should stop trying to force its values on the Chinese people, and instead let them develop their own views on democracy and human rights. Ming Wan is an assistant professor of public and international affairs at...

(The entire section is 2345 words.)

China’s One-Child Policy Violates Human Rights

In the 1970s, China began to implement a nationwide family planning policy—called the “one-child policy” because under it couples are strongly discouraged from having more than one child. In the following viewpoint, Harry Wu asserts that the Chinese government routinely forces sterilization or abortion on women who attempt to have a second child. Wu concludes that China’s one-child policy is unnecessary and that the ways in which it is enforced constitute serious abuses of governmental authority. Harry Wu is executive director of the Laogai Research Foundation, an organization that collects information about forced labor camps and other human rights violations in China.

As you read, consider the following...

(The entire section is 2819 words.)

China’s One-Child Policy Does Not Violate Human Rights

The following viewpoint is excerpted from an official document published by the Information Office of the State Council of the People’s Republic of China. China’s policy is that family planning is a necessary response to the problem of overpopulation and that it benefits the Chinese people in a variety of ways by ensuring that China’s finite resources are not spread too thin. Moreover, the authors contend that China’s family planning is consistent with human rights principles, reasoning that an individual’s right to reproduce is outweighed by the harms associated with unrestricted population growth.

As you read, consider the following questions:

1. In what year did China first begin to promote...

(The entire section is 2758 words.)

Economic Sanctions Should Be Imposed on China

William Saunders is foreign policy and human rights counsel to the Family Research Council, a nonprofit organization that promotes traditional values. In the following viewpoint, Saunders calls on U.S. policymakers to institute economic sanctions against China in order to pressure it into curbing its human rights abuses. He favors revoking China’s “Normal Trade Relations” status (the name was changed from “Most Favored Nation” status in 1997), under which trade between the United States and China is free of protective tariffs and other barriers. Saunders maintains that economic sanctions are an effective alternative to military action as a means of achieving foreign policy goals.

As you read, consider the...

(The entire section is 1264 words.)

Economic Sanctions Should Not Be Imposed on China

Congressman David Dreier is a California Republican and chairman of the House Rules Committee. In the following viewpoint, he argues that China should continue to receive “Most Favored Nation” status (now known as “Normal Trade Relations” status). Economic sanctions are an ineffective means of promoting human rights in other countries, he maintains. China’s economic reforms have resulted in greater prosperity and more freedom; economic sanctions would only undermine that prosperity and cause China to backslide into more repression. Moreover, if the United States were to impose economic sanctions on China, the action could draw the two nations into a disastrous cold war.

As you read, consider the following...

(The entire section is 1812 words.)

Chapter 2 Periodical Bibliography

The following articles have been selected to supplement the diverse views presented in this chapter. Addresses are provided for periodicals not indexed in the Readers’ Guide to Periodical Literature, the Alternative Press Index, the Social Sciences Index, or the Index to Legal Periodicals and Books.

America. “The People’s Republic at 50,” October 9, 1999.

Sophie Beach. “Tiananmen Plus Ten,” Nation, June 14, 1999.

Gwendolyn Dean. “We Must Boycott China’s Goods,” Christian Social Action, January 1998.

Bay Fang. “China Draws a Hard Line,” U.S. News & World Report, January 24, 2000.

Robert D....

(The entire section is 206 words.)

Chapter 3 Preface

In May 1999, Congress released a report detailing evidence that China had spied on the United States for twenty years. The Cox report, named after Republican Christopher Cox who headed the House committee that released it, claims that Chinese agents stole information about every nuclear weapon currently deployed by the United States and that China could use this information to improve their own nuclear capabilities. Many of the thefts occurred at the Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico, but the report also states that U.S. companies such as Hughes Electronics Corporation may have inadvertently given away some U.S. secrets when they launched satellites aboard Chinese rockets.

Not surprisingly, the nuclear espionage scandal outraged many Americans. Critics of U.S. foreign policy cited the incident as proof that China is seeking to gain a military advantage over the United States. Some politicians, such as House Republican Tom DeLay, also used the incident to question “whether the president and vice president deliberately ignored the reality of Chinese spying and theft because they had ulterior economic and political motives,” referring to illegal campaign contributions the Democratic party received from Chinese donors in the 1996 presidential race.

However, some argue that the Cox report provides little evidence for its broad claims of espionage. Stephen L. Schwartz of the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists asks, “If China has been diligently swiping our technological secrets for the past 20 years . . . why is it still using military hardware it designed in the 1960s and 1970s?” Others contend that China should not be demonized because of the spy scandal; Michael Klare, professor of peace and world studies at Hampshire College, maintains that “China, like every other country in the world, spies. . . . There is nothing unusually sinister about this.”

The Los Alamos spy scandal is just one incident inciting debate over China. The authors in the following chapter consider China’s strategic goals and its military capabilities as they consider whether China poses a threat to U.S. interests around the globe.

Conflict Between the United States and China May Be Imminent

In the following viewpoint, Frank J. Gaffney Jr. argues that the Chinese government may have long-term plans that are harmful to the United States and its vital interests. The author claims that, among other things, the People’s Republic of China is building up its armed forces, spying on the United States, and establishing relations with American allies and with anti-U.S. countries such as Iraq. Gaffney believes that to prevent future conflict with China, the United States should act now to subvert the Chinese Communist regime while also building up U.S. defensive capabilities in Asia. Gaffney is president of the Center for Security Policy in Washington, D.C.

As you read, consider the following questions:

1. What U.S. vulnerabilities does the author claim China is attempting to exploit through “asymmetric” means?

2. Why is it especially difficult to counter Chinese espionage, in Gaffney’s view?

3. What policies of the Clinton-Gore administration does Gaffney believe may have been affected by illegal Chinese campaign contributions?

The single-most important strategic question of the coming decade is likely to be: Is Communist China determined to harm the United States or its vital interests? The second-most important question is: If so, can conflict between our nations be avoided on terms that are consistent with the American people’s security and liberties?

Before examining these important issues, consider this observation about forecasts: There are few inevitabilities in the course of human conduct. Decisions taken—or not taken—at various points along the road can and do shape history. In hindsight, events may appear to be inevitable. But they rarely are.

The trouble is that, when living through a transitional period, we often are unaware of the turning points, of the choices being made. For example, take the period that led up to World War II.

Today we can clearly see evidence that the Nazis and Japanese were pursuing courses that would bring them into conflict with the United States and other Western democracies. We can also see the missed opportunities during the 1930s when different policies on the part of this country, Britain and France might have spared the world the conflagration that followed.

Yet at the time, the democracies were lulled into inaction by the seductive appeal of those who claimed that engaging with the thugs running Germany and Japan on their terms— a practice that came to be known as “appeasement”— would spare the West the tragic costs of another conflict.

This approach was tried again and again in the face of what proved to be insatiable demands by members of the fascist Axis. Feeding the tiger only made it come back for more. Despite the fact that Great Britain and Nazi Germany were each other’s largest trading partners, the war came when it suited Hitler.

What Beijing Wants
Unfortunately, I believe there is increasing evidence that a new conflict with an authoritarian regime is in prospect, this time with Communist China. As in the 1930s, this evi- dence is somewhat obscured by other information—what intelligence experts call “noise.” Some of it is genuine. Some of it is misinformation.

The difficulty of understanding which is greatly compounded by the efforts of those, like their counterparts of 60 years ago, who tell us that engagement will prevent conflict, that expanding trade and accommodation of China’s demands will ensure that peaceful relations between our two countries are preserved.

In fact, trade and accommodation will not necessarily prevent conflict with the People’s Republic of China any more than it caused Hitler to refrain from attacking Britain’s allies and, in due course, England herself. China is, after all, not the United States’ “strategic partner.”

As in the 1930s, we ignore evidence of a coming struggle with China at our peril. If anything will make that conflict inevitable, it will be our failure to address what the PRC is up to and the strategic implications of that behavior and policies that guide it for our vital interests and those of our allies in Asia.

Ominous Trends
Consider the following illustrative list of China’s ominous activities. Motivation and likely repercussions of these activities must be separate from the “noise” and addressed effectively.

The PRC’s ambitious military modernization program: The Communist Chinese are engaged in what Mao might have called a “Great Leap Forward” in the lethality and power projection capabilities of their armed forces. The purpose of this effort is clear to those guiding the PRC’s People’s Liberation Army: to neutralize (preferably without a war) and, if necessary, defeat what the...

(The entire section is 1986 words.)

Conflict Between the United States and China Can Be Averted

Henry Kissinger served as national security advisor and secretary of state under presidents Richard Nixon and Gerald Ford and also as a consultant to presidents John F. Kennedy, Lyndon Johnson, and Ronald Reagan. In the following viewpoint he warns that key events in 1999—such as the accidental bombing of the Chinese embassy in Belgrade by U.S. forces during the Kosovo conflict in May, as well as the release of the Cox report have contributed to rising tensions between the United States and China. Kissinger maintains that U.S. hostility toward China is unwarranted and rejects claims that China’s military build-up and economic prosperity threaten the United States or democratic Taiwan. Kissinger calls on leaders in both nations to halt the rush toward confrontation.

As you read, consider the following questions:

1. What three propositions constitute the “case against China,” in Kissinger’s view?

2. In the author’s opinion, how is China’s strategic situation more problematic than the Soviet Union’s was?

President Clinton meets with his Chinese counterpart, Jiang Zemin, at an international forum in New Zealand [in September 1999] amid the greatest strain in Sino-American relations since diplomatic contact was re-established in 1971.

Mounting Tensions Could Lead to Disaster
Many in Washington perceive Beijing’s reaction to the American attack on the Chinese embassy in Belgrade as deliberate fostering of anti-American sentiments, and the Chinese military build-up and human rights practices as challenges to basic American interests and values. The view from Beijing is that the bombing of its Belgrade embassy was deliberate and that denial of World Trade Organization (WTO) membership, human rights accusations and charges of espionage are symptoms of America’s unwillingness to allow China to play a role on the world stage.

In this atmosphere, Taiwan’s sudden and unilateral challenge to the existing political understandings in the Taiwan Strait—at a time when a senior Beijing representative was preparing to visit Taipei for the first time—is interpreted in Beijing as the culmination of an American plot to divide China. [On July 9, 1999, Taiwan president Lee Teng-hui called for “special state-to-state relations” between China and Taiwan, challenging the Chinese government’s position that Taiwan is part of the People’s Republic of China.] Chinese warnings of a possible military response have taken on a severity reminiscent of the prelude to the Chinese intervention in the Korean War in 1950. In turn, many in Washington consider these Chinese expressions of concern as pretexts for executing long-held designs. Amid such mutual incomprehension, conflict, even military conflict, could suddenly erupt.

Three high-level visits—of Jiang Zemin to Washington [in November 1997], of Clinton to China [in June 1998] and of Prime Minister Zhu Rongji to Washington [in April 1999]—have accomplished little more than to assuage these trends. In each, atmospherics took precedence over substance, and in the Zhu visit American domestic politics blocked the conclusion of the WTO agreement that Zhu had been given reason to expect.

Some are fatalistic about this drift toward confrontation. Others compare the emergence of China to the rise of Germany before World War I, the implication being that, since a showdown is foreordained, better now, when China is still relatively weak. They forget that, in the eyes of history, the sin of the statesmen of that period was their failure to arrest the catastrophe that nearly destroyed European civilization.

A Sino-American conflict would be similarly avoidable and damaging to both sides. Both sides need a respite from the febrile mood of the moment. The atmosphere for this is not favorable in either country. Anti-American nationalism seems to be gaining momentum in Beijing. In America, a growing consensus in which China replaces the Soviet Union as our main enemy stultifies a necessary debate. Doubters of the dominant trend are accused of appeasement or of acting for their own economic benefit—a charge to which I have been subjected because I am chairman of an international consulting company. Anybody believing this charge should stop reading here.

No single component of American foreign policy can be an end in itself. We have security, political and economic interests and commitments in Asia that we will not sacrifice to our interest in constructive relations with China, however important we judge these to be. But the prospects of world peace, stability and progress will be jeopardized if the current unnecessary rush toward confrontation is not reversed by both sides.

The Case Against China
The case against China boils down to three propositions:

• That China, like the Soviet Union, is ideologically bent on regional, if not world, domination. Coexistence being impossible, we must maintain pressures on this last major totalitarian state until it transforms itself into a peaceful and cooperative democratic society.

• That China’s military build-up coupled with the growth of its economy inevitably challenges the U.S. position in Asia and should be stifled before it takes on unmanageable proportions.

• That a military showdown over Taiwan is sufficiently probable that we must take all measures in defense of Taiwan, even if these measures make such a conflict inevitable.

But is China really comparable to the Soviet threat to the United States?

Soviet ideology claimed universal applicability, and Soviet leaders as late at the ’70s proclaimed the goal of the worldwide triumph of communism. Moscow avowed its...

(The entire section is 2376 words.)

China Does Not Pose a Military Threat to the United States

In the following viewpoint, Bates Gill and Michael O’Hanlon contend that, despite some observers’ concerns about a possible conflict between the two nations, there is no reason to think that China could challenge the United States militarily. The authors note that China has the world’s largest army, in terms of raw troop numbers—but point out that the United States far surpasses China in terms of military technology and equipment. China is completely unequipped to mount an effective attack on the United States, they maintain, and it is very unlikely that China’s army could invade and hold Taiwan. Gill and O’Hanlon are senior scholars in the Foreign Policy Studies Program at the Brookings Institution.

As you...

(The entire section is 1795 words.)

China Could Pose a Military Threat to the United States

Mark Helprin is the author of Winter’s Tale and A Soldier of the Great War, a contributing editor of the Wall Street Journal, and a senior fellow at the Claremont Institute for the Study of Statesmanship and Political Philosophy. In the following viewpoint, he maintains that China is on its way to becoming a military superpower. He notes that China is currently upgrading its nuclear capabilities, and that the Chinese economy is soaring. Helprin predicts that by about 2015 China will have the ability to pour its economic strength into revitalizing its conventional military. Once this happens, he warns, China will probably be able to dominate the Asian mainland and become a serious rival to the United States.


(The entire section is 2742 words.)

Chapter 3 Periodical Bibliography

The following articles have been selected to supplement the diverse views presented in this chapter. Addresses are provided for periodicals not indexed in the Readers’ Guide to Periodical Literature, the Alternative Press Index, the Social Sciences Index, or the Index to Legal Periodicals and Books.

Elliott Abrams and Michael Ledeen. “American Power—for What?” Commentary, January 2000.

Bates Gill and Michael O’Hanlon. “China’s Hollow Military,” National Interest, Summer 1999. Available from P.O. Box 622, Shrub Oak, NY 10588-0622.

Michael Hirsh and Melinda Liu. “A Goose Step into the Future: China’s 50th Anniversary,” Newsweek,...

(The entire section is 212 words.)

Chapter 4 Preface

One of the most sensitive issues in U.S.-China relations is the status of Taiwan. Officially, the People’s Republic of China (PRC) considers this island off the southeastern coast of the mainland part of its territory. However, Taiwan maintains its own government and enjoys extensive economic relations with the United States.

The origins of Taiwan’s ambiguous status can be traced to the end of World War II, when a civil war between China’s two dominant political parties came to a head. The nationalist Kuomintang party, led by Chiang Kai-shek, and the Communist Party of China, led by Mao Zedong, had fought each other since the 1920s. By 1949, the Kuomintang had been forced to flee to Taiwan. However, they still claimed to be the rightful rulers of China. Meanwhile, on October 1 of that year, Mao proclaimed the Communist revolution successful, and the People’s Republic of China was born.

All this occurred at the dawn of the West’s cold war with the Soviet Union. The United States, opposed to the spread of communism, initially refused to recognize the PRC, and instead made promises to support the exiled government on Taiwan. However, by the start of the 1970s, it was apparent that the PRC was firmly in power and that the leaders on Taiwan had little influence in mainland China. Over the objections of the United States, the United Nations admitted the PRC and revoked Taiwan’s membership.

The United States now recognizes the Communist government in Beijing as the legitimate ruler of China. Yet U.S. leaders are reluctant to completely abandon ties with the government on Taiwan. Thus, ever since President Richard Nixon made the first official U.S. visit to the PRC in 1972, U.S. presidents have tried to maintain a delicate balance, helping to strengthen Taiwan economically and militarily without offending the PRC.

The United States Should Defend Taiwan Against China

In the following viewpoint, William Kristol and Robert Kagan, editors of the conservative magazine The Weekly Standard, argue that the United States should pledge to defend Taiwan in the event the People’s Republic of China (PRC) attempts to invade or otherwise threaten Taiwan. Current U.S. policy on Taiwan is ambiguous, according to the authors: U.S. leaders have repeatedly implied that they would use force to defend Taiwan from Chinese aggression, but they have also discouraged Taiwan from openly declaring independence from mainland China. Kristol and Kagan believe this ambiguity could lead to war if Chinese leaders are not convinced of America’s commitment to Taiwan. Writing a few months prior to the 2000 presidential primaries, Kristol and Kagan call on the Republican presidential candidates to make a clear promise to defend Taiwan.

As you read, consider the following questions:

1. In the authors’ opinion, what “simple reality” should be the basis for American policy toward Taiwan?

2. What are the proposed provisions of the Taiwan Security Enhancement Act, according to Kristol and Kagan?

Taiwan’s President Li Teng-hui sent the American foreign policy establishment into a nervous frenzy [in July 1999] when he declared that Taiwan would henceforth negotiate with China as one state to another. China experts are working overtime on their op-eds chastising Taiwan for its provocative action. And the Clinton administration has already made known its displeasure with Li’s statements, denouncing them as unhelpful and reiterating the administration’s own agreement with Beijing’s one-China policy. Meanwhile, Beijing went nuclear, literally. In a document charmingly entitled “Facts Speak Louder Than Words and Lies Will Collapse on Themselves,” Beijing informed the world of what the Cox committee and other investigations had already revealed: that it has a neutron bomb, just perfect for dropping on a nearby island that China would like to occupy. This threat will no doubt cause even more anxiety among American China hands, who will blame President Li for increasing the danger of another crisis in the Taiwan Straits.

Everyone should calm down. By carefully stripping away the absurd fictions of the “one-China” policy, President Li is actually doing all concerned a big favor. After all, it is true that “facts speak louder than words.” The fact is that Taiwan is and has been a sovereign state for decades, with its own government, its own army, its own flag, its own flourishing economy, and full possession of its territory. Since the early 1990s, moreover, Taiwan has been a democracy, and nothing could be clearer than that the Taiwanese people want to remain separate from mainland China as long as that territory is ruled by a dictatorship. Until there can be one democratic China, they insist, there must be two Chinas.

Beyond the Shanghai Communique
These facts are, of course, inconvenient for the Clinton administration, which has adhered slavishly to the fiction of “one China” embodied in over a quarter-century’s worth of Sino-American agreements. Beginning with the Shanghai Communique of 1972, the United States declared its understanding that both sides of the China-Taiwan dispute agreed that there was but one China. At the time of the Shanghai Communique, this was true in an odd sort of way. Both the Communist government of Beijing and the authoritarian government of Chiang Kaishek’s Kuomintang agreed that there was one China, and they both insisted it was theirs. The United States used this cute “one-China” formulation as a way of avoiding the issue. Anyway, the Cold War was on, and U.S. officials believed they needed China’s help in containing the Soviet Union. If the price was a certain ambiguity and even some deception on the subject of Taiwan, so be it.

Twenty-seven years later, however, the world is a very different place. The people of Taiwan, now able to express their will electorally, have declared that they do not want to rule the mainland, and they do not want the mainland to rule them. There are two Chinas, not one. This puts an end to the smoke-and-mirrors game of the Shanghai Communique. The Clinton administration’s spokesmen can say “one China” till they’re blue in the face, but, to quote the Chinese government again, “lies will collapse on themselves.” And then, of course, there is that other small difference between now and 1972: The Cold War is over. The Soviet Union is gone, and the biggest challenge to American interests in the world today comes from Beijing, not Moscow. With that rather large shift in global strategic realities, the need for ambiguity on Taiwan has disappeared.

The Dangers of Ambiguity
Indeed, ambiguity under the...

(The entire section is 1967 words.)

The United States Should Not Defend Taiwan Against China

Ted Galen Carpenter is vice president for defense and foreign policy at the Cato Institute, a conservative think tank in Washington, D.C. In the following viewpoint, he maintains that Americans do not want to go to war with China in order to defend Taiwan. Carpenter argues that such a conflict would be disastrous, especially considering that China is a nuclear power. On the other hand, he also believes that a successful Chinese attack on Taiwan would seriously damage U.S. interests in the Pacific region. Carpenter suggests that a better way for the United States to ensure Taiwan’s security would be to sell better weapons to Taiwan, including submarines and antiballistic missiles. This would discourage China’s willingness to initiate a conflict with Taiwan while also reducing the need for America to become militarily involved in the region.

As you read, consider the following questions:

1. In the author’s opinion, how did Bill Clinton change U.S. policy on Taiwan when he visited China in June 1998?

2. What weapons systems does the author say the United States has already sold to Taiwan, and what systems does he believe should be made available to Taiwan in the future?

An especially controversial aspect of President Clinton’s June 1998 trip to China was his statement, following meetings with Chinese president Jiang Zemin, that “we don’t support independence for Taiwan, or two Chinas, or one Taiwan, one China. And we don’t believe that Taiwan should be a member in any organization for which statehood is a requirement.” Administration officials subsequently insisted that U.S. policy had not changed, but those assurances were greeted with widespread disbelief in both the United States and Taiwan. That skepticism is understandable. Although Clinton stopped short of accepting Beijing’s position that Taiwan is nothing more than a renegade province of the People’s Republic of China (PRC), the opposition not only to Taiwanese independence but to Taiwan’s hopes for lesser forms of international recognition confirmed a major change in Washington’s position.

Previous U.S. policy was encapsulated in the deliberately ambiguous language of the 1972 Shanghai Communiqué at the end of President Richard Nixon’s historic journey to China: “The United States acknowledges that all Chinese on either side of the Taiwan Strait maintain that there is but one China and that Taiwan is a part of China. The United States Government does not challenge that position. It reaffirms its interest in a peaceful settlement of the Taiwan question by the Chinese themselves.”

Clinton’s statement drew condemnation from the Senate GOP leadership and from sources as politically diverse as the Wall Street Journal and the Washington Post. The Post argued that the president had significantly reduced Taiwan’s bargaining power in any cross-straits negotiations and questioned the propriety of the United States’ ruling out “independence or any other option the Taiwanese people might choose.” The Journal was more caustic, contending that Jiang “got his number one priority, Mr. Clinton carving the next slice of salami toward the Chinese goal of getting the U.S. to coerce Taiwan to join China, or alternatively, to stand aside while China invades.” And Parris Chang, a member of Taiwan’s Legislative Yuan and the head of the pro-independence Democratic Progressive Party’s mission in the United States, bitterly accused Clinton of “selling out” Tai- wan.

Although concern about the president’s comments is justified, such criticisms misidentify the primary danger arising from Washington’s policy shift. The Journal’s interpretation is certainly overstated; Clinton explicitly reiterated those portions of the Shanghai Communiqué and other U.S. policy statements that emphasize America’s insistence that the Taiwan issue be settled peacefully. There is little evidence that Washington will pressure Taiwan to accept Beijing’s rule, and the Taiwanese would ferociously resist such pressure in any case. Nor is it likely that the United States would remain aloof if the PRC attacked Taiwan.

The real problem is that Clinton’s policy has a built-in, extremely dangerous contradiction. His statements in Shanghai indicate that the United States now considers Taiwanese independence an illegitimate option. That is a far cry from merely acknowledging that most Taiwanese and mainland Chinese endorse the theoretical goal of “one China.” The implications of that change in language go far beyond the escalation of U.S. opposition to Taipei’s bid to join the United Nations and other international bodies.

More tangibly, Clinton’s policy shift presages a reduction and eventual elimination of arms sales to Taiwan—as already suggested by several East Asia experts. Indeed, there are persistent news reports in the East Asian press that Chinese leaders received “private pledges” by “senior U.S. officials” to cut or downgrade arms exports to Taiwan. That is not a trivial matter, for a cutoff of arms sales could...

(The entire section is 2099 words.)

The United States Should End Free Trade with China

Since the late 1980s, China has been seeking admission into the World Trade Organization (WTO). China’s entry into the WTO would mean that the United States would be obligated to engage in free trade with China and grant it permanent Normal Trade Relations status. In the following viewpoint, William R. Hawkins maintains that China should not be admitted to the WTO. The U.S. trade deficit with China, he maintains, shows that the Chinese benefit from free trade with the United States much more than Americans do. Moreover, he warns that China is using the wealth generated from free trade with the United Sates to upgrade its military, thus threatening U.S. interests in the Pacific region. William R. Hawkins is a visiting fellow at...

(The entire section is 1481 words.)

The United States Should Not End Free Trade with China

In the following viewpoint, Jerry J. Jasinowski argues that free trade with China benefits the United States. Free access to the 1.2 billion potential consumers in China helps U.S. businesses compete internationally, he maintains. In addition, U.S. economic engagement with China exposes the Chinese to American values such as free competition. If the Chinese embrace the value of freedom in trade and business competition, then freedom in other areas, such as politics and religion, will more easily follow. Jasinowski is president of the National Association of Manufacturers.

As you read, consider the following questions:

1. How many dollars’ worth of commercial goods does the United States sell to China...

(The entire section is 2215 words.)

The United States Should Pressure China to Adopt Democratic Reforms

In the following viewpoint, Robert W. Tracinski, editor of the Intellectual Activist, criticizes U.S. foreign policy toward China under President Bill Clinton. Tracinski claims that Clinton’s policy has been based entirely on appeasing China by giving it trade benefits and reducing criticism of China’s human rights abuses. This strategy, writes Tracinski, is based on the idea that by engaging China economically and politically, the United States will gain more influence with Chinese leaders. However, Tracinski believes this approach is ineffective and inexcusable given the authoritarian nature of the Chinese government and its overt hostility toward the United States.

As you read, consider the following...

(The entire section is 1250 words.)

The United States Should Not Try to Control China

Chalmers Johnson is president of the Japan Policy Research Institute and the author of Blowback: The Costs of the American Empire. In the following viewpoint, he argues that China has made considerable economic and political progress since it first became communist in 1949. In his view, many U.S. criticisms of China—on issues such as human rights or nuclear proliferation—are unjustified or exaggerated. Johnson maintains that much of the tension in U.S.-China relations is due not to China’s actions, but rather to Americans’ unease with China’s emergence as a great power. Johnson warns that, to avoid conflict with China, U.S. leaders will have to accept that China is unwilling to let the United States be the dominant...

(The entire section is 2512 words.)

Chapter 4 Periodical Bibliography

The following articles have been selected to supplement the diverse views presented in this chapter. Addresses are provided for periodicals not indexed in the Readers’ Guide to Periodical Literature, the Alternative Press Index, the Social Sciences Index, or the Index to Legal Periodicals and Books.

Jodie T. Allen. “China’s in the House,” U.S. News & World Report, June 5, 2000.

Michael Barone. “China’s Strait Flush,” U.S. News & World Report, September 6, 1999.

Jagdish Bhagwati and Christopher Lingle. “Should China Be Allowed to Join the World Trade Organization?” Insight on the News, December 1, 1997. Available from 3600...

(The entire section is 223 words.)


Claude E. Barfield and Mark A. Groombridge. Tiger by the Tail: China and the World Trade Organization. Washington, DC: American Enterprise Institute, 1999.

Richard Bernstein and Ross H. Munro. The Coming Conflict with China. New York: Knopf, 1997.

Paul J. Bracken. Fire in the East: The Rise of Asian Military Power and the Second Nuclear Age. New York: Harper- Collins, 1999.

Warren I. Cohen. America’s Response to China: A History of Sino- American Relations. New York: Columbia University Press, 2000.

Elizabeth Economy and Michel Oksenberg, eds. China Joins the World: Progress and Prospects. New York: Council on Foreign Relations, 1999.

Rosemary Foot. Rights Beyond Borders: The Global Community and the Struggle over Human Rights in China. New York: Oxford University Press, 2000.

John W. Garver. Face Off: China, the United States, and Taiwan’s Democratization. Seattle: University of Washington Press, 1997.

Blake Kerr. Sky Burial: An Eyewitness Account of China’s Brutal Crackdown in Tibet. Ithaca, NY: Snow Lion, 1997.

Samuel S. Kim, ed. China and the World: Chinese Foreign Policy Faces the New Millennium. Boulder, CO: Westview, 1998.

Nicholas D. Kristof and Sheryl Wudunn. China Wakes: The Struggle for the Soul of a Rising Power. New York: Times Books, 1994.

Nicholas R. Lardy....

(The entire section is 412 words.)