Tue May 26 2015 3:16:38 +0200 CEST

China - United States Policy Toward China: a Dossier

What is a Dossier?

Via the dossiers, we try to highlight the priorities of the US Government with regard to specific foreign policy policy issues. We provide statements by U.S. public officials, but also reports, hearings, and journal articles.
President Obama and President Hu Jintao of China (WH Photo by Samantha Appleton)

U.S.-China Cooperation

President Obama (Feb. 14): "As I indicated during my recent visit to APEC and the East Asia Summit, the United States is a Pacific nation. And we are very interested and very focused on continuing to strengthen our relationships, to enhance our trade and our commerce, and make sure that we are a strong and effective partner with the Asia Pacific region. And obviously, in order to do that, it is absolutely vital that we have a strong relationship with China. Over the last three years I’ve had a great opportunity to develop a strong working relationship with President Hu. And we have continually tried to move forward on the basis of recognizing that a cooperative relationship based on mutual interest and mutual respect is not only in the interests of the United States and China, but is also in the interest of the region and in the interest of the United States -- in the interest of the world." Full text

Secretary Clinton (Feb. 14): "Today, cooperation between the United States and China is imperative to address the many vexing challenges we face, from countering proliferation, to addressing climate change, to promoting global economic security. Now, developing the habits of cooperation is not easy. We have a lot of work to do. But we are both committed to building a lasting framework of trust that will support a cooperative partnership for the next 40 years and beyond." Full Text

VP Biden (Feb. 14) : Let me be clear: I believe, as the President said also to the Vice President in the Oval Office not long ago, we believe that a rising China is a positive development -- not only for China but also for the United States and the world. It will fuel economic growth and prosperity, and a rising China will bring to the fore a new partner with whom we can have help meeting the global challenges we all face. Full text

US Government Information: 

-05/13/13 U.S.-Chinese Motor Vehicle Trade: Overview and Issues [400 Kb] http://fpc.state.gov/documents/organization/209930.pdf

Investigating the Chinese Threat, Part II: Human Rights Abuses, Torture and Disappearances. Source: U.S. House Foreign Affairs Committee, Jul. 25, 2012.

-07/13/12   China, Internet Freedom, and U.S. Policy  [351 Kb] Source: CRS Report for Congress.

Continued Human Rights Attacks on Families in China. Source: U.S. Foreign Affairs Committee, Jul. 9, 2012.

-06/26/12   China's Economic Conditions  [449 Kb] Source: CRS Report for Congress.

-06/19/12   U.S. - China Military Contacts: Issues for Congress  [815 Kb] Source: CRS Report for Congress.

Chen Guangcheng: His Case, Cause, Family, and Those Who are Helping Him.  Source: U.S. House Foreign Affairs Committee, May 15, 2012

-05/10/12   Understanding China's Political System  [757 Kb] Source: CRS Report for Congress.

-03/30/12   China and Proliferation of Weapons of Mass Destruction and Missiles: Policy Issues  [705 Kb] Source: CRS Report for Congress.

Assessing China's Role and Influence in Africa. Source: U.S. House Foreign Affairs Committee, March 29, 2012.

The Price of Public Diplomacy with China.  Source: U.S. House Foreign Affairs Committee, March 28, 2012.

Investigating the Chinese Threat, Part I: Military and Economic Aggression.  Source: U.S. House Foreign Affairs Committee, March 28, 2012.

-03/28/12   Pivot to the Pacific? The Obama Administration's "Rebalancing" Toward Asia   Source: CRS Report for Congress.

-03/23/12   China Naval Modernization: Implications for U.S. Navy Capabilities - Background and Issues for Congress  [1587 Kb]

-02/20/12   China's Banking System: Issues for Congress  [550 Kb] Source: CRS Report for Congress.

-11/10/11   U.S. Assistance Programs in China  Source: CRS Report for Congress.

2011 Report to Congress On China’s WTO Compliance. Source: United States Trade Representative December 2011

-09/30/11   China-U.S. Trade Issues  Source: CRS Report for Congress.

-09/26/11   China's Holdings of U.S. Securities: Implications for the U.S. Economy  Source: CRS Report for Congress.

China's Monopoly on Rare Earths: Implications for U.S. Foreign and Security Policy

Source: U.S. House Foreign Affairs, Subcommittee on Asia and the Pacific, Sep. 21, 2011.


-08/30/11  China’s Currency: A Summary of the Economic Issues Source: CRS Report for Congress.

-08/26/11   China Naval Modernization: Implications for U.S. Navy Capabilities - Background and Issues for Congress Source: CRS Report for Congress.

-07/18/11   China's Greenhouse Gas Emissions and Mitigation Policies  Source: CRS Report for Congress.

-06/26/11   China and Proliferation of Weapons of Mass Destruction and Missiles: Policy Issues  Source: CRS Report for Congress.

-06/03/11   China/Taiwan: Evolution of the "One China" Policy - Key Statements from Washington, Beijing, and Taipei  Source: CRS Report for Congress.

Religious Freedom, Democracy, Human Rights in Asia: Status of Implementation of the Tibetan Policy Act, Block Burmese JADE Act, and North Korean Human Rights Act  

Source: U.S. House, Foreign Affairs Committee, June 2, 2011

Communist Chinese Cyber-Attacks, Cyber-Espionage and Theft of American Technology. Source: U.S. House Foreign Affairs Committee, April 15, 2011

Combating Human Trafficking in Asia Source: U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee, April 7, 2011

Asia Overview: Protecting American Interests in China and Asia Source: U.S. House Foreign Affairs Committee, March 31, 2011


Another US Deficit--China and America--Public Diplomacy in the Age of the Internet (S. Prt. 112-15) (Committee Print (R) Minority)


-01/12/11   China's Currency: An Analysis of the Economic Issues  Source: CRS Report for Congress.

January 19, 2011 Assessing China’s Behavior and its Impact on U.S. Interests Source: U.S. House Foreign Relations Committee
Chairman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen ,

Annual assessment of China’s military. Source: U.S. Dept of Defense, Aug. 16, 2010

Country Reports on Terrorism 2009 | East Asia and Pacific Overview Source: U.S. Dept of State, August 2010

Non-US Government Information: 

The United States and rising powers in a post-hegemonic global order. Sevasti-Eleni Vezirgiannidou, International Affairs, May 2013, pp. 635-651. The changing geopolitical landscape is fraying the fabric of US hegemony and compromises the current structures of global order tied to US supremacy. Emerging powers from the 'developing' world, such as China, India and Brazil, are increasingly challenging the US-based order through their individual and collective actions on economic and development governance. They see themselves as lacking a significant stake in the system and have different values than traditional US allies which tend to be advanced liberal democracies. This article examines how the US is attempting to manage the challenge to its position of primacy in the global order. The main argument is that the US has been slow to recognize this threat and is still ambivalent about how to tackle it. It appears that at this stage the US wants to share the burdens of governance with emerging powers, encouraging them to play the role of 'responsible stakeholders'. READ MORE

Recalibrating American Grand Strategy: Softening US Policies Toward Iran In Order to Contain China. Samir Tata, Parameters, Winter/Spring 2013, 47-58. "Over the next decade, the United States will have to rethink its grand strategy as it addresses the challenge of maintaining its primacy as a global power in an increasingly multipolar world whose center of gravity has shifted to Asia. The task will be all the more daunting because significant fiscal and economic constraints imposed by a federal government debt that has mushroomed to nearly $16 trillion or about 100 percent of GDP, and a continuing economic slowdown that has been the deepest and longest since the Great Depression will force difficult tradeoffs as the United States seeks to realign and streamline vital national interests with limited resources. The overarching national security objective of the United States must be crystal clear: to counterbalance and contain a rising China determined to be the dominant economic, political, and military power in Asia." READ MORE

China and the global order: signaling threat or friendship? Shaun Breslin, International Affairs, May 2013, pp. 615-634. Although there is clear dissatisfaction in China with the nature of the current global order, it is hard to find a clear and coherent Chinese vision of what an alternative world might look like. This is partly a result of conflicting understandings within the country of the benefits and drawbacks of taking a more proactive global role and perhaps undertaking more leadership functions. But it is also a consequence of how elites frame Chinese interests and demands in different ways for different audiences. Furthermore, the existing order has in fact served China quite well in its transition towards becoming a global power. So while at times China appears to be the main driver for reform and change, at other times (or to other people) the emphasis is on China as a responsible stakeholder in the existing system. READ MORE

After Fukushima: China's Nuclear Safety. Liu Chong, Survival, June/July 2013, pp. 115-128. "In the aftermath of the nuclear accident at Fukushima, Japan in 2011, several governments, notably those of Japan, Germany, Switzerland and Italy, abandoned plans to extend or increase their nuclear capacity. Globally, however, the impact on nuclear-energy expansion may be rather modest. China is among the countries that will continue to build nuclear power plants, and it should be a leader in finding ways to build and operate them safely. Developing countries such as China and India need to exploit all usable possibilities to meet their rapidly growing electricity demand. High energy prices and heightened geopolitical risks in the Middle East and North Africa increase the value of electrical generation that does not rely on continued large-scale import of fuel. Climate change is also a driving force." READ MORE

The Pentagon and the Pivot. Kai Liao, Survival, June/July 2013, pp. 95-114. "Chinese officials and analysts regard the US pivot towards the Asia-Pacific as a strategy to contain China, despite Washington’s claim that it does not focus on a particular country. Instead of accepting either Chinese skepticism or US official statements at face value, this article attempts to trace the origins and examine the evolution of the pivot through the lens of the Pentagon’s internal think tank, the Office of Net Assessment (ONA). Drawing on documents produced and sponsored by the office, this article explores trends in its analysis of Asian security and Sino-American relations, the rationale for the pivot and China’s role in the United States’ Asia-Pacific strategy." READ MORE

Rebalancing to Asia with an Insecure China. Ely Ratner, The Washington Quarterly, Spring 2013, pp. 21 38. "The U.S. shift toward Asia should and will continue, but Washington must both account for an insecure China for rebalancing to achieve its intended aims and must sustain its commitment to intensive high-level engagement with Beijing to cope with inevitable crises." READ MORE

China's Strategic Shift Toward the Region of the Four Seas: The Middle Kingdom Arrives in the Middle East. Christina Lin, Middle East Review of International Affairs, Spring 2013, pp. 32-55. "Since the Arab Spring, China has been quietly asserting its influence and fortifying its foothold in the Middle East, while the United States pivots to the Asia Pacific after a decade of war. It is aligning with states that have problematic relations with the West and are also geo-strategically placed on the littoral of the "Four Seas"-the Caspian Sea, Black Sea, Mediterranean Sea, and Arabian Sea/Persian Gulf. Paradoxically, the U.S. eastward pivot is matched by the resurgent Middle Kingdom's westward pivot across its new Silk Road, and threatens to outflank the citadel of American geo-strategies in the region." READ MORE

Rebalancing the Burden in East Asia. Christian Le Mière, Survival, Spring 2013, pp. 31-41. "When the Obama administration announced its pivot to Asia in late 2011 and early 2012, there was much consternation over the choice of words. ‘Pivot’ implies impermanence, and suggests that the United States had been neglecting the Asia-Pacific to a greater extent than it might wish to signal. The preferred term soon became ‘rebalance’. But this only partially describes the policy mix adopted by Washington. A more accurate phrase would have been a ‘rebalance of burdens in Asia’." READ MORE

China, North Korea and the Spread of Nuclear Weapons. Thomas Plant & Ben Rhode, Survival, April 2013, pp. 61-80. "Once described as ‘as close as lips and teeth’, in recent years the relationship between China and North Korea has become more strained. Beijing has conflicted motivations in its policy towards Pyongyang. It resents the disruption North Korean provocation brings to Northeast Asia. Some observers argue that Beijing's North Korea policy is illogical, as it increases anti-Chinese resentment and support for America's military presence in Asia. (When Beijing gave Pyongyang diplomatic cover after North Korean forces sank the South Korean corvette Cheonan and shelled Yeonpyeong Island in 2010, it damaged China's image and strengthened cooperation between South Korea, Japan and the United States.) And China's indefinite protection of North Korea's nuclear arsenal might one day encourage Seoul or Tokyo to seek their own nuclear deterrents, although this will remain unlikely as long as the United States retains a meaningful military presence in East Asia. In the shorter term, the North Korean nuclear threat has prompted Tokyo and Seoul to introduce ballistic-missile defences, much to China's displeasure. Beijing has apparently calculated, however, that these disadvantages are outweighed by the risk of regime collapse in North Korea, which would entail a large number of refugees entering northern China, and the likelihood of a reunified Korean peninsula under Seoul's control and allied with the United States. The prospect of a US military ally as China's direct neighbour, and possibly US troops on its borders, is deeply alarming to Beijing. Memories of Japan's invasion of China via the Korean peninsula remain strong among Chinese policymakers, and concerns about territorial vulnerability trump all others. China's policy now seems to be focused on trade and investment in North Korea, in the hope that this will promote regime prosperity and stability, reduce any incentive to extort aid through military provocation, encourage Pyongyang to follow China's post-1979 path to economic reform, and maximise Chinese leverage. As Victor Cha, former director for Asian affairs at the National Security Council, has argued, China and North Korea are ‘caught in a mutual hostage relationship – the North needs Chinese help for their survival, and the Chinese need the North not to collapse’. This prospect has been sufficient to deter China from fully exploiting its economic and diplomatic leverage over Pyongyang." READ MORE

How New and Assertive Is China's New Assertiveness? Alastair Iain Johnston, International Security, Spring 2013, pp. 7-48. In recent years, it has become increasingly common in U.S. media, pundit, and academic circles to describe the diplomacy of the People’s Republic of China (PRC) as newly or increasingly assertive. Some observers have even suggested that this new assertiveness reflects a fundamental shift in Chinese diplomacy away from
Beijing’s more status quo–oriented behavior of the previous thirty years.Many believe that it reflects a conscious decision by the top leadership in the
wake of the 2008–09 financial crisis to be much more proactive in challenging U.S. interests in East Asia and, indeed, elsewhere around the world. The new
assertiveness meme has “gone viral” in the U.S. media, the blogosphere, and in scholarly work. This article argues, however, that the new assertiveness meme underestimates the degree of assertiveness in certain policies in the past, and overestimates the amount of change in China’s diplomacy in 2010 and after. Much of China’s diplomacy in 2010 fell within the range in foreign policy preferences, diplomatic rhetoric, and foreign policy behavior established in the Jiang Zemin and Hu Jintao eras. Moreover, the claims about a new assertiveness typically do not provide a definition of assertiveness, are unclear about the causal mechanisms behind this shift toward assertiveness, and lack comparative rigor that better contextualizes China’s diplomacy in 2010. READ MORE

First Things First: The Pressing Danger of Crisis Instability in U.S.-China Relations. Avery Goldstein, International Security, Spring 2013, pp. 49-89. Two concerns have driven much of the debate about international security in the post–Cold War era. The first is the potentially deadly mix of nuclear proliferation, rogue states, and international terrorists, a worry that became dominant after the terrorist attacks against the United States on September 11, 2001.1 The second concern, one whose prominence has waxed and waned since the mid-1990s, is the potentially disruptive impact that China will have if it emerges as a peer competitor of the United States, challenging an international order established during the era of U.S. preponderance.2 Reflecting this second concern, some analysts have expressed reservations about the dominant post–September 11 security agenda, arguing that China could challenge U.S. global interests in ways that terrorists and rogue states cannot. READ MORE

Accommodating China. Amitai Etzioni, Survival, April 2013, pp. 45-60. "There are increasing signs that the United States and China are on a collision course. Some scholars see this course as following the historical pattern by which a declining power refuses to yield to a rising power, and war ensues. Yet the collision is by no means inevitable. The United States should be able to accommodate China's rise without compromising its core interests or its values. Freed from his pre-election necessity to appear tough, President Barack Obama now has the opportunity to re-examine the pivot to Asia he announced in 2011 to choose between a quest for a regional accommodation and a military confrontation. Accommodation should not be misconstrued as appeasement or unilateral concession. It should be conceived, rather, as action in the interests of both sides that contributes to global stability. It proceeds from the assumption that relations between international powers can benefit from significant complementary interests, even if other interests conflict. Washington and Beijing share interests in nuclear non-proliferation, securing global commerce, stabilising oil markets and preserving the environment, as well as preventing terrorism, piracy and the spread of pandemics." READ MORE

Ten Challenges for China's New Leader. P. H. Yu, American Foreign Policy Interests, Spring 2013, pp. 75-81. "China's new leader, Xi Jinping, has an excellent opportunity to set China on its new path with consequences of historical proportions. Xi now has sufficient power and the latitude to set right the missteps made by his predecessors, address the calls for political reform, and continue on the road to socialism. If Xi Jinping does not take an unambiguous stand against dictatorship, advance the rule of law, and install a system of meritocracy with intra-party democracy, then political instability may intensify and affect the legitimacy of the Chinese Communist Party (CPC) rule. The author presents ten challenges for Xi, some of which are to encourage a pluralistic society; put in place economic structural reform, freedom of speech, and fair distribution of wealth; establish a new global outlook; reexamine Marxism; reposition the CPC; and revive the scholar-gentry civil service. These are requirements to lead a cultured and modern China into the future."


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