By that time, after the discovery of Soviet troops in Cuba and the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, U. – Soviet détente had ended and Washington was ever less sanguine about it reemerging. The issue of human rights was likewise intertwined with strategic objectives, agrees Ming Wan, a Chinese historian: “Human rights in China was rarely mentioned by the government, the media or human rights NGOs in the United States throughout the 1970s and only incrementally in the 1980s…China was a ‘human rights exception’ even when the United States pursued an articulated global human rights policy.” From the perspective of U. foreign policy, the evidence amply supports this characterisation. But since the end of the Cold War, Sino-American relations have operated within a drastically altered international context requiring an equally distinct bilateral relationship.As the Soviet Union came to appear more ominous, China grew more valuable to the United States as a strategic ally. Ross, “that the United States now sought a ‘stable marriage’ so as to better contend with Soviet U. In the pivotal year of 1989, the collapse of communism in Eastern Europe and the brutal suppression of the Tiananmen protests dealt a dual blow to the U. Throughout the Cold War, the Chinese had stood, for America, at the forefront of reform in the communist world – “daring, innovative, and increasingly capitalist.” That it now stood at the turn of the decade as a lingering bastion of communism seen anew as corrupt and backwards in the wake of the Tiananmen massacre led to a profound disillusionment as the public turned away from China.Consider the actual policies of the last three presidencies. Bush, for his part, although inaugurated during the Cold War, continued to be relatively accommodating towards China past 1989. government’s censure and sanctions following the Tiananmen massacre by secretly dispatching the emissaries Brent Scowcroft and Lawrence Eagleburger to China in order to assure the PRC that the U. was still keenly interested in maintaining good relations.
The Bush administration complemented its aggressive military tone with various diplomatic affronts, including an invitation to the Dalai Lama. Bush and China, reveals that “apart from being confrontational, Bush’s China policy also appeared contradictory” – for instance, by announcing major shifts in China policy only to retract the statements, on several occasions.
The contradictory nature of President Bush’s foreign policy serves to underscore the naivety of a new administration as yet unfamiliar with the history of the bilateral relationship.
As Wang makes clear in her investigative work, one explanation is that the Bush administration contained “no senior-level officials with any significant amount of China experience.” Although it is difficult to tell at what point in the Bush presidency the administration would have softened its tone towards the PRC, the terrorist attacks of September eleventh, 2001 provided a premature impetus for a complete reorientation of China policy.
Vice President Cheney, Defense Minister Donald Rumsfeld and their departments believed that a policy..least of active constraint, should be carried out regarding China, which presumed...treating China as a potential strategic adversary.
Segal’s answer, “the Middle Kingdom is a middle power - China matters far less than it and most of the West think, and it is high time the West began treating it as such” resonates considerably less today; since then, both China and opinion regarding it have advanced significantly, giving rise to new fears and perceptions of U. Alarm over conciliatory policies in this newly perceived context is commonplace and unsurprising, as exemplified by the sharp criticism of Obama’s China policy in the wake of his state visit to Beijing last month.
His critics in Congress, nongovernmental organizations and the general public bemoan that a hard line on China, rather than the open-handed approach of the Obama presidency and his compromising character, would fashion a tougher and ultimately safer stance on China for national security and prosperity.
The problem arises from the framing of the post-Cold War relationship as one in which the United States could finally pursue a policy guided by the full scope of its national interest. However, beneath much of the rhetoric and public policy debates, U. presidents since the Cold War have rarely acted as suggested by their aggressive policy outlines.
In this sense, it tends to see negotiation with China not as part of a pattern of rational strategy implementation, but rather as periodic concessions eroding what would otherwise promote U. Patient and calculated negotiation with the PRC has, in fact, been the norm.
President Bill Clinton campaigned for his presidency under a decidedly aggressive China policy, in fact placing himself in direct opposition to Bush.
In 1992, Clinton condemned his predecessor’s China policy as too soft and vowed to get tough with China if elected to the White House.