The United States policy on China has a long history. In the Shanghai Communique, signed between the US and China in 1972, the United States of America acknowledged the People’s Republic of China assertion that, all Chinese on both sides of the Taiwan Strait believe there is only one China, and that Taiwan is part of the mainland. Other Communiques have also been adopted by subsequent administrations to determine various policies for the United States, on the basis of the original one, signed in 1972 by President Richard Nixon.
The US later shifted its diplomatic base from Taipei to Beijing in recognition of the Mainland. In Taiwan the United States has maintained vibrant unofficial contacts in commercial and cultural aspects. America’s ‘’unofficial’’ friendship with Taiwan has being a source of discomfort for mainland China over the years. It is sad to note that in 2005 Mainland China passed an anti-secession law stating; – The People’s Republic of China will turn to non-peaceful avenues to tame Taiwan, if it declares self independence. The US has had to trade cautiously when it approaches China’s internal affairs.
This diplomacy has often bore fruits and avoided facing head-on the root problems. The US taking hard stances on China and Taiwan affairs can certainly be counter-productive. Hence, the justification of its present position on the said matters as matters stands. Today, the main threat to the Security of the United States is from Terrorism. Other Global challenges, are to be found in Climate change and the proliferation of nuclear weapons. To suitably address these issues the United States must engage China, to jointly tackle these problems.
Taiwan has historically been allied to the US. The Taiwan Relations Act in the US domestic law allows for ‘’unofficial’’ contacts to thrive between the two countries. This status quo has to be maintained, so as to protect the traditional interests of the United States of America, while observing the protocols of the various Communiques binding China and the US. The United States stands as the only superpower with an economy that has great influence globally. China on the other hand has the number with a population of over 1 billion people been the most populated nation.
Its economy has also been steadily rising as many US firm outsource their operations to China, though many do so with the prime aim of maximizing profits and cutting down their operational costs. The Chinese economic growth has certainly been “food for thought” for the policy makers. And the US residents concerned about the “job loses” East Asia is a strategic trading partner for US Companies and products. A China policy has to defend the interests of these trading companies operating in this region, from Japan to Indonesia.
East Asia’s security is threatened by North Korea developing nuclear weapons. This threat can be effectively contained with the co-operation of China. The US should advocate for a policy which will eventually unite the two Koreas. In exchange of the ultimate unification of China and Taiwan, the US may opt to root for One Korea which is free and democratic. The emerging liberal Korea will open up new markets for the existing US companies found in these regions. As the grave concerns of North Korea acquiring nuclear weapons been a major US concern.
The US has often seen China in a better position to pile pressure on North Korea to abandon its quest for nuclear weapons, as the US seeks for a peaceful solution to avert the nuclear proliferation: currently threatening to tear the region apart. The end of the cold war ushered in new global rivalry between the US and China solely based on historical and economic mistrusts. Rapid industrialization of China has had a ripple effect on the economies in East Asia, which now look up to China as a partner and protector, a role which was previously a prerogative of the US.
Repressive politics has managed to put a check on dissenting voices within China thus enabling the leadership to look beyond the borders and assert China’s regional hegemony. Japan, though an economic power house, embraces a culture of anti-militarism and has not been at par to counter the monstrous growth of neighboring China, despite their historical rivalry. As China increases its regional influence, her other aim is to unite with Taiwan. Their modern approach to achieve this pursuit is through Soft Power.
In Political Science, Military and economic power is considered as Hard Power while other means of coercion to achieve political gains such as; Cultural norms, political ethics, Uniting Ideas and accommodating Foreign Policies are classified as Soft Power. China, through its Soft Power has managed to win the trust of many countries across the Globe. Recent research indicates that, China has surpassed the US as the most trusted country in the world. China’s domestic development and stability has made it a world power and is now bent on edging out the US from East Asian affairs.
After the collapse of Communism in the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe, it dawned on Chinese bureaucrats the need to consolidate power in the State. Previously an authoritative powerful State was considered a deterrent to economic growth. In China, power was centralized in the CCP. Later, the open door and reform policy led to a revolutionary change in the social-economic well-being of its citizens. The transformation of lifestyles has imbibed a sense of pride and confidence in the Chinese, breeding nationalism in the country.
It is this renewed Nationalism which is a threat to the crisis in the Taiwan Strait, Chinese nationalists feel China should be forcibly united to Taiwan. Across Taiwan, political liberalization and economic empowerment has created a new Taiwanese identity. Political parties which advocate Taiwanese interests and consciousness fair better in National polls whereas parties which lean towards the Mainland are shunned. Majority in Taiwan favor the political situation to remain as it is. The rise of Nationalism in the Mainland has coincided with emergence of a Taiwanese identity.
These two aspects are bound to repel any forces which aim to unite them and might even isolate the US bid to act as an intermediary. The US, recently concentrated its military might in fighting the Al-Qaeda in Afghanistan. The recent world economic crunch has also dented the military war chest of the US. In the Far East, North Korea’s acquisition of nuclear weapons has polarized the entire region. It is obvious The Japanese who looked upon the US as protector are starting to feel vulnerable. As China vows not to recognize the independence of Taiwan, it would be only appropriate to front for the remilitarization of Japan.
This will eventually ease the burden on the US military in the Far East and contribute to peace and stability in the region. China and the United States can without doubt be argued to be the world’s two indomitable “super powers”. An idea has been mooted to establish CHIMERICA a G2 alliance to mediate on contentious world affairs. The two countries have however initiated the US-China strategic and Dialogue forum to tackle issues on global warming, humanitarian crisis and proliferation of nuclear weapons. Chinese authorities have adopted policies set to improve co-operation on both sides of the straits.
China hopes to maintain a Status Quo in her favor; which simply means Taiwan will never be independent from the Mainland, especially taking into account its economic benefits. In 2010 the US proposed an arms sale to Taiwan which was vehemently opposed by mainland China. The US administration was to further antagonize Beijing when President Obama decided to host the Dalai Lama. The US today has its hands full in fighting terrorism at home and abroad. In the Far East, China’s increased economic might and international clout has tilted the power balance in her favor.
A China Policy in tandem with the previous communiques will ease the existing security tensions in the Far East Region. The US has over time pursued a policy of close co-operation with a reformed and modernized China. This is to augur well with the over 48 Billion dollars worth of investments by US companies operating in China. The United States of America faces a formidable challenge as it tries to maintain hegemony in a region which has been transformed radically by an emerging economic power, China. Many US firms have often been accused of setting up tax heaven in China.
These firms are viewed by those opposed to the whole idea of US firms outsourcing to China, as using US market to make huge profits and evading the responsibility of paying their fair share of national tax. This has forced the US lawmakers to devise ways and means to curb these loopholes, though its success rate is questionable. The Shanghai communique and others thereafter have managed to harmonize the relationship between the US and the People’s Republic of China. Each new US administration comes up with conflicting policies but which are based on the original communique, which advocates for one China.
The signed documents are not binding and US interests, particularly in trade, are known to override these communiques. The above concerns raised have led policy makers on both sides of the equation to carefully assess their short and long-term policies towards each other. Some of the approaches that have been laid on the table for debate and implementation are:- Approach 1: Envision a crumbling China Most debates in America as concerns China policy tend to dwell on the emerging might of China, a big and threatening East Asian economic and military giant.
Many others see a prosperous and cooperative Mainland China, which can is also be a ‘’Strategic partner’’ to the US. Rapid modernization may as well overwhelm the existing political structures in China to destabilize the country. At the moment, various provinces in the Mainland are agitating for self rule. An unstable Chinese State would reduce the government’s capabilities to contain serious vices in this vast country Industrialization in China has had its drawbacks as witnessed by the high pollution in urban areas. Stern laws are a deterrent to industries which pollute the environment.
A weak, broken China will barely be able to enforce or control the resulting polluting culprits. A disintegrating China is a more serious threat to the US interests while a United China is a Strategic advantage. An American policy on China ought to advocate for a stable domestic China. As the worlds largest producers and consumers, China and the US should be in the forefront stemming global warming. To monitor levels of environmental degradation in a splintered China would be a nightmare. With a thriving and united mainland, the US can also count on Chinese support to disarm North Korea of its nuclear arsenal though peaceful negotiations.
The prospects of a failing China are a disadvantage to the US trade interests in Eastern Asia, where numerous US multinationals have invested heavily. A China policy should support a strong Cohesive State; for floundering domestic China will deal a destabilizing blow externally. All the neighboring countries economies are dependant on China, a spill over effect of instability can be disastrous for the entire region. As China economy comes to par with the western world, improved lifestyles and access to information is bound to ferment discord as Citizens seek an outlet to flaunt their new wealth worldwide.
A China policy should encourage cross cultural exchange between Citizens of the two States. An informed public will discard the deep rooted mistrusts of East verses West rivalries which are mostly myths. The success story of the Chinese economy would also boost the US tourism sectors as wealthy Chinese splash their wealth on US tours. Approach 2: Pursue ‘’One China’’ Dialogue In China the Taiwan issue is a matter close to the hearts of many. It is an emotional subject which can erupt negatively if not checked. The US has always been sympathetic towards Taiwan because of her liberalism and democratic ideals.
This does not go down well with the Chinese who insist Taiwan is the 23rd province of the Mainland. To ease the tensions along the Taiwan Strait, China policy ought to lean on One Nation, which encompasses the Mainland and Taiwan. As mentioned before, the US can also bargain for a united China in exchange for ‘’One Korea’’ in the North. This will strategically secure North East Asia for the US as Japan is located in the neighborhood. The US should thereafter lobby for her trading concessions to be maintained. A sound and trusting relationship with China will eventually ensure world peace.
Though some may feel that the US policy at times are viewed by many around the globe to be a bit forcefully, China’ s policy especially on foreign issues has been a bit laid back. Whereas, the US may favor sanction of countries that it considered a threat to its national security. China has not been in favor of those sanctions and may only favor them as a last result. When it comes to China’s internal affair especially on human rights issues, media freedom and democracy the Chinese have not taken lightly the US offshore comments on its internal affairs.
It may seem that the standards of human rights issues are as far as the east is from the west when comparing china and the US. Across to the North East Japan’s economic muscle may eventually arouse Nationalism fronting for the re-armament of their country. After the testing of Nuclear weapons by North Korea, Japan must be feeling threatened. The emergence of new political players in Japan who profess aggressive military ideals can not be entirely ruled out. Historically a highly militarized Japan has been proved to be a global tyrant.
It is whispered that ‘’ The Japanese have never learnt from their past military crimes’’, so they might as well be contained. Plus, given that Iran is also pursuing nuclear weapons and more nations are joining the nuclear club. Japan which has been traditionally enjoying military and economic superiority may be forced to rethink its policy. Though, China cannot be said to be a threat to Japan’s national security. The US has been advocating for nuclear non-proliferation and whether it will be able to convince the Chinese to reduce its nuclear stock pile is another hard rock to crack.
The process of pursuing ‘’One China’’ Policy will maintain the Status Quo, China is known to prefer things to remain as they are, while plotting ways of controlling Taiwan. The US is a major supplier of arms to Taiwan and as things stand, the Status Quo serves well the profits of US multinationals. The rise of Taiwanese Identity has altered the mindsets in the Island, where majority now are against reunification with the Mainland and prefer the Status Quo remain. The split in the two China’s was fueled by Nationalists and Communists, as found in Taiwan and the People’s Republic of China respectively.
It is highly probable that integrating the two will strengthen the renewed Nationalism in the Mainland. Political optimists believe China will eventually transform itself into a Democracy, though the process might take a while. With fast changing technology especially the fast growth of the internet China may find it hard to maintain its control of information freely flowing within its borders and would be forced to embrace democracy as viewed by the Americans. Some may argue that the US is playing double standards when it advocates for democracy whereas its own records are questionable.
Especially, when Issues related to fighting terrorism are concerned. With some of the view in China and many other nations within the region feeling that the US policies should be toned down and they should bring more dialogue on the table. Approach 3: Engage Top-level Bureaucrats The US-China Strategic and Economic Dialogue initiative is an example of Top-level bureaucratic engagement. The US Secretary of State heads the team in this initiative while the Chinese delegation is led by the Deputy Premier. High level consultations between the two countries have in the past opened the way for China to join the World Trade Organization.
Bi-lateral Summits by the Presidents of the two powers have in the past yielded reforming solutions to global issues. With almost two digit growth rate been recorded by China, one may project and see that China may soon overtake the US economy which is growing at a much lower rate than China. Comparing the two countries one may see that the national cake is more evenly distributed in America than China. Even though the wide gap between the poor and rich may at times benefits the US in the sense that they can outsource labor intensive projects at a relatively lower cost.
Meetings between the Top leadership increase the level of Trust and diminish any hostile perceptions held. Apart from China, the US should play the role mediator in issues affecting the East Asia region. America’s policy in the region will determine the relations with China. US national interests in diplomacy, military and economics will only be well protected when top government executives engage directly with the leadership of this region. US standing among the Nations of East Asia will affect China’s views on issues.
The US diplomats should push to strengthen existing alliances, while assessing the composition and capacity of stationed troops to fulfill their missions effectively. China should also be engaged so as to participate in regional issues such as counter terrorism, Disaster management and peacekeeping. To check on North Korea, Trilateral consultations with the Republic of Korea and Japan should be intensified. Further consultations with Beijing and Moscow needed to pressurize Pyongyang to cede developing nuclear weapons. Within the East Asia region, the US should support sound structural economic reforms in particular countries.
This will provide the foundation for a sustainable economic growth in the 21st century. Aid ought to be granted to establish regional institutions which are comfortable with America’s involvement in East Asia affairs. Approach 4: Arms Trade On January of 2010, the US was closing a deal worth $6. 4 billion selling arms to Taiwan. Mainland China immediately threatened to impose restrictions on the US firms selling the arms. PRC later suspended consultations on certain regional and international issues. The US gesture (arms sale), was seen as a snub to the spirit of ‘’One China’’.
However the US-Japan alliance is favorable to the interests of China. Japan, due to her bloody military past is viewed with suspicion in the region. The US has effectively put on check any Japanese military ambitions. China has in the past borne the brunt of Japan’s military might and is comfortable with US limiting her capabilities. Japan is a nation with great capability when it comes to acquisition of military superiority. It has not lately been in the arms race seen within the region, which has played very well with the Chinese. This can partially be attributed to the US check and balances on Japan.
Though the whether the status quo remains is a thorny issue that would need to be addressed in future. Across Japan, North Korea is flexing her nuclear muscle from a tightly closed and controlled society. This scenario best presents the US with an opportunity to re-arm Japan on terms strictly dictated by the US. Thereafter this process will eventually offer US firms a lucrative avenue to invest in Japan’s, National Security industry. The level of militarization will however be in tandem with China and Russia’s aspirations, who can also act as mediators in the balancing of power along the Sea of Japan.
Courtney from Study Moose
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