The Making of American Foreign Policy Towards China 1989-2000

Term Paper (Advanced seminar), 2004

44 Pages, Grade: 2

Free online reading



I. The Making of U.S. Foreign Policy Towards China

II. The Executive Branch
1. George H.W. Bush
2. William Jefferson Clinton

III. Congress and Interest Groups
1. The Congress: Personal, and Partisan
2. Interest Groups: Human Rights Groups, Religious Groups, Think Tanks, the Business Lobby, the Taiwan Lobby



The Making of American Foreign Policy towards China


The Basis of this essay is the American Foreign Policy toward China after the Tiananmen Square massacre and the end of the Cold War. What is the role of the Executive Branch (Bush Sen. Administration, Clinton administration) and what does the Congress have to say in formulating and affecting U.S. policy towards China? Is there a clear work-sharing between the two constituencies? How do they add to each other and how do they hinder each other? What is the role of Interests Groups in influencing policy making towards China? Does it benefit the mutual interests of each, the United States and China or is the benefit only one-sided if not to say to the interest of a third player (the interest group) in the relationship. How do Interests Groups influence Congress and how do they confirm U.S.-China policy? Will the United States and China find a way to coexist with each other in a peaceful manner or will the relationship be more conflictual than cooperative. Will China though be an informal ally or a “strategic competitor” for the United States?

The Author of this work will focus his research more on the political process in making China policy rather than on a chronology of events or particular issues as there are American alliances in East Asia (U.S.-Japan Alliance, U.S.-ROK Alliance, Relations to Taiwan (TRA), American plans to deploy a National Missile Defense (NMD) or a Theater Missile Defense (TMD) shield and their meaning for U.S.-China policy. These are also main points in U.S policy towards China, but because of the importance of domestic politics in influencing foreign policy and the increasing role of nongovernmental organizations in the policy making process but also the lack of time and word constrains, the author tries to explain and analyse only questions regarding domestic issues in U.S-China relations that is inevitable for understanding making U.S.-China policy.


When President George W. Bush and the 107th Congress took office in January 2001, America’s new government was confronted the same foreign policy challenges as the previous administrations. How would the world’s only superpower deal with potential rivals in the international order? Should they be contained by powerful military alliances or engaged through exchanges or agreements? In particular how should the United States cope with an emerging power in the Asia-Pacific region such as the People’s Republic of China (PRC)? The Transformation of the U.S.-China Relation is one of the most complex and consequential developments of the twentieth century. U.S. Policy towards China was frozen for more than twenty years after the Chinese communists came to power on the mainland in 1949. The turning point came when President Richard Nixon and Chairman Mao Zedong recognized they had a common adversary in the Soviet Union. Nixon’s historic trip to China in 1972 led to a period of euphoria and goodwill constructed a great bargain that helped stabilize Sino-American relations for nearly two decades (1972-1989). The relationship was founded on a more or less shared set of strategic perceptions about the nature of threat from the Soviet Union and on a “realist” viewpoint that Soviet power needed to be balanced by cooperation between its principal opponents. Although the relationship grew in many other ways after the President Nixon visit to China in 1972 and the issuing of the “Shanghai communiqué” establishing the ground rules for the Sino-American cooperation, the strategic underpinning remained a constant in the relationship. Though some terms of the bargain dealt with many policy issues, among them Taiwan, U.S. security alliances in the Asia-Pacific region and elsewhere, trade and human rights. With respect to Taiwan the strategic imperative for Sino-American cooperation led on both side to agree that the island’s status was an issue best placed in the background, to be dealt with later. This distant horizon allowed American leaders to sidestep a problem for which they had no answer and to focus on cooperation elsewhere. As China moved into a period of reform and opening to the outside world under Deng Xiaoping, the bilateral relationship flourished under the belief on both sides in a “strategic relationship” of joint opposition to the Soviet Union. With the disappearance of the Soviet Union as a global power in 1991, Sino-American relations dramatically weakened the rational in both nations for subordinating latent frictions in their relations. Than came the slaughter and showdown on Tiananmen Square in 1989. Students and ordinary citizens of Beijing had taken over the symbolic center of Beijing that spring, demanding dialogue, democracy, and freedom. When units of the People’s Liberation Army stormed into the city late on June 3, 1989 and regained control the next day at enormous costs in lives, the U.S.-China relationship was damaged in a way in which it has yet, fourteen years later, fully to recover. Since that, cycles of normalization and engagement, alternating with anger, recriminations, and distrust, have characterized bilateral ties. The fall of communist regimes in Eastern Europe and that in the Soviet Union itself made it patently obvious that the Sino-American relationship had lost its original strategic rationale, making restoration of amicable tie that much more difficult to achieve. Amid all the change- the forgetting, of Tiananmen- the relationship between the United States of America and the People’s Republic of China has remained one of wary distrust that occasionally deteriorates into enmity. Although the two governments have improved their cooperation and even achieved a degree of amicability in the wake of the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on New York and Washington, these changes nevertheless seem tenuous, unsupported by improved trust or understanding. There is still plenty rancor on both sides. In the post-cold war era, domestic politics also have assumed a greater importance relative to international concerns. In the United States, reflecting a process that started with the Vietnam War and gained steam with the Watergate scandal, Congress has come to play an increasingly assertive role in foreign policy. Concerning China at one end of the spectrum are optimists who see the PRC as a modernizing society gradually developing a market economy and democracy. They know that PRC leaders are autocrats yet recognize that unintended economic, social, and political changes are occurring that will compel the government to stay the course of reform in order to remain in power. Optimists further argue that the PRC is becoming enmeshed in a plethora of agreements with the United States and other nations that will force its leaders to adhere to the reform path. Optimists see a benign causal pattern linking an engaged U.S. China policy, a strong Chinese desire to join the world system, and positive domestic trends in the PRC. At the other end of the spectrum are the pessimists who reject all three premises. They believe that Beijing’s leaders will modify their behaviour only if the United States adapts firmness and imposes sanctions, and they contend that American China policy also must be predicated on its military primacy in the Pacific. As long as Chinese nationalism and irredentism remain potent forces, they argue, the United States must restrain the PRC. Despite of easing the bilateral strains in light of their opposition to international terrorism, China and the United States remained locked in strategic distrust at the beginning of the twenty-first century, based largely on misperceptions. Strategic thinkers and military planners on both sides plot future conflict scenarios with the other side as the principal enemy. The questions remains how the United States will manage the emergence of the PRC in East-Asia and worldwide with its implications for the neighbouring countries and the existing American alliances in the region. In the first chapter the author will explain the making and process of China policy by the Executive; he will go through the Bush administration as well as the Clinton administration and clarify the differences. In the second chapter he will demonstrate the complexity of work in Congress. Also the role of |Interest Groups will be defined and their influence on congressional decisions. In the last chapter he talks about the future of U.S-China relations, weather it will be a conflictual or a cooperative relationship? At the end the author gives some advices for managing China policy at the beginning of the 21st Century. Regarding literature in recent years there has been a high amount of publications concerning U.S. foreign policy especially regarding China. The author will use some standard works but also articles written by well known authors from leading Journals and Think Tanks specialized on China and American foreign policy, see footnotes and references.

I: The Making of U.S. Foreign and Security Policy towards China.

After World War II, when the United States ascended to superpower status, the role of the executive in American foreign policy making became more proactive. In June 1950, President Harry Truman committed American troops to South Korea under UN auspices, setting America on a path of building regional alliances to counter the power of the communist bloc. The executive had superior sources of intelligence information and was able to respond quickly on an international crisis, and consequently it took the lead in foreign policy in the 1950s and 1960s. Congress only rarely opposed its efforts. As time passed, however, the Congress began refusing to comply passively with the executive’s role in foreign policy making and, in 1974, restricted U.S. government military support for South Vietnam. During the 1970s and 1980s Congress became more assertive in making foreign policy[1] and restricting the executive’s power. President Nixon’s visit to China in 1972 led to diplomatic relations between the two countries under the administration of Jimmy Carter on January 1, 1979. At those times the United States had diplomatic ties with the Republic of China on Taiwan.[2] Congress didn’t agree with the new China policy, although a strong China lobby (Taiwan lobby) existed which supported the Nationalists on Taiwan. The struggle between the two branches began but at the end both had to agree on the Taiwan Relation Act (TRA) on April 10, 1979.[3] The Constitution of the United States provides considerable flexibility for the agencies of the Executive and Congress to take action. A President eager to change American foreign policy can do so if he can mobilize his cabinet to get Congress on his side. Each administration which sustains a particular policy over a long period also requires a continual cultivation of Congress. Similarly, public pressure can embolden Congress to challenge the executive’s particular foreign policy. In recent years the influence of new interest groups has emerged to accumulate and process knowledge and to transmit new ideas to members of Congress and to change the executive’s foreign policy. A powerful lobby can convince many to support an alternative foreign policy. Lobbies and interests groups aim as much to abrogate laws and change policies as to pass new legislation. The president’s activity or passivity in making foreign policy depends on personal experience and accumulated knowledge. But even in each of the two branches themselves sometimes there are arguments concerning an issue, be it partisan in the Congress or the struggle for defining a particular policy between the different departments as we know between the Department of State and White House/NSC or Department of State and the Defense Ministry. The ideas and information shared by the president or the members of Congress are also factored into the policy process. In the following chapter we look first at the executive branch under George H. W. Bush and later at the Clinton presidency and how they approached to make China policy, respectively. The two presidents reacted to new crisis towards China in very different ways. Afterwards we switch to Congress and Interest groups.

II. The Executive Branch

The Bush administration:

The Bush administration’s policy towards China faced the difficult task of maintaining the basis of a cooperative U.S.-China relationship in the international context at the end of the Cold War and in the American domestic context of post-Tiananmen criticism of U.S-China cooperation. In the United States, widespread calls for a belligerent China policy threatened to determine the course of U.S.-China relations. During the first post-Tiananmen period, the Bush administration sought to sustain U.S.-China cooperation without PRC reciprocity and without congressional support, the White House carried out unilateral U.S cooperation with China. In the second post Tiananmen period the president reached out to members of Congress to cooperate with a bipartisan coalition in support of U.S-China cooperation. The White House and Congress could find a consensus in order to U.S Interests and secure a working relationship with the Chinese leaders. It neither made unreciprocated concessions nor pre-emptively imposed extreme sanctions. Rather, it sought negotiated solutions to conflicts of interests that reflected Chinese regional authority and economic influence and that reflected both U.S. and Chinese interests. It was this effort that established the precedent of engagement for the China policy of future administrations. President Bush had a deep, lifelong interest in foreign affaires. He spent considerable time and energy developing friendships with national leaders, including the PRC’s Deng Xiaoping. President Bush sought to be his own “China desk officer”,[4] personally seeking to direct policy, improve the Sino-American relationship, and build wide support in Congress for his policies. The President had greater experience in dealing with China than any of his senior advisers. He thus relied on his own judgement in policy making. He worked with his advisers more as consultants than experts, frequently taking positions they opposed, and he rarely used the State Department or the National Security Council (NSC) to develop policy initiatives. He’s experience also strengthened to resist domestic pressures to impose costly sanctions against Beijing, concerned that excessive retaliation would only exacerbate U.S-China friction and undermine U.S. interests.[5] He believed that Sino-American relations were extremely important in the post cold war era and that a cooperative relationship would ensure future international peace and prosperity. He predicted his administrations China policies on the principle that a friendly, peaceful relationship with the PRC was good for both America and China. After the Tiananmen Square massacre Bush and his advisers understood that the plight of China’s reformist leadership required that Washington carry out the weight of cooperation, “there is a power struggle going on in China”.[6] Understanding the instability of Chinese politics, President Bush and his advisers made policy to avoid exacerbating the plight of Chinese moderates and damage to U.S.-China relations. In this international and domestic context, the administration did a series of unilateral gestures toward China that had the effect of maintaining U.S. cooperation. Short after the Tiananmen massacre the Bush administration took the initiative to maintain the relationship. Risking domestic criticism by seemingly violating his sanctions on exchanges between U.S. and Chinese officials Bush decided to send National Security Adviser Brent Scowcroft and Deputy Secretary of State Lawrence Eagleburger on a secret visit to China in early July.[7] In July and October Secretary of State James Baker met with Chinese foreign minister Qian Qichen in Paris and than at the United Nations. The administration also approved preliminary licences for Chinese launching of U.S. satellites, allowed Chinese personnel to return to work on a military technology transfer programs in the United States, and held discussions with China concerning Chinese accession to the Agreement of Tariffs and Trade (GATT). Then in late November, Bush vetoed support for Chinese students seeking to remain in the United States, despite widespread support for the measure. In December 1989 Bush decided to send Scowcroft and Eagleburger to Beijing for a second visit.[8] He announced their visit after their arrival in China again subjecting himself to widespread criticism. After the visit the President waived the sanctions to Export-Import Bank financing of trade with China and approved licenses for U.S. satellites to be launched from Chinese rockets. For its part, China lifted martial law and released six hundred prisoners. But the White House was disappointed by the Chinese unwillingness to reciprocate the administration’s efforts because it made it harder to prevent the things getting worse. During the next year a similar pattern emerged when the U.S. administration took unilateral efforts to maintain cooperation and that despite of Chinese intransigence on human rights to trade and security issues.[9] From June 1989 to mid 1991 the Bush administration showed a similar tolerance for Chinese intransigence regarding U.S.-China conflict over arms proliferation and trade issues. As there were missile transfers to Pakistan, trade deficit with China and the violation of intellectual patent rights. Furthermore the president signalled his personal commitment to the relationship despite of widespread American opposition to U.S.-China cooperation and though helped Chinese moderates to bolster their own commitment but also made it easier for the president to seek concession from China. From 1989-1991 it worked with Beijing to finalize an important agreement calling for the end of the Cambodian civil war and full Vietnamese troop withdrawal from Cambodia.[10] While the Bush administration was developing its policy toward China it had to manage Congress. Each year, after the House of Representatives passed nearly unanimous legislation suspending China’s MFN status, the Senate became the focus of the conflict between the White House and advocates of economic sanctions. And each year the president engaged himself in congressional politics to ensure that the Senate would not override his veto.[11] For emotional, ideological, and partisan reasons, members of Congress attacked the president’s effort to sustain U.S.-China cooperation. Their preferred instrument was legislation imposing sanctions on China. After Tiananmen, such legislation covered a wide range of areas, including trade and political refugees.[12] The Bush administration took the initiative to put its own sanctions if it didn’t want Congress to implement harsher sanctions. Bush used also his great popularity to defy its congressional critics.[13] From the middle of 1991 short after the U.S victory against Iraq it became clear that the economy was in decline. President Bush was blamed for it and his approval rating fell. When President Bush faced declining popularity and in 1991 a difficult battle for reelection, he was compelled to reevaluate his strategy for maintaining U.S.-China cooperation. Rather than continue to defy congressional opposition and pursue unilateral cooperation with China, President Bush cooperated with moderate congressional Democrats to secure the votes to sustain his veto while pursuing a more demanding China policy, seeking PRC concessions that would enhance domestic support for U.S.-China cooperation and minimize his domestic vulnerability. The White House remained engaged in congressional politics, as before, but now the president worked with a bipartisan group of fifteen senators to resist the momentum toward linkage of trade with human rights and achieved a major victory. For the first time, hard line China legislation failed to receive in the Senate the two thirds vote required to override the president’s veto, and the next year despite of the escalation of partisan politics in the latter stages of an election year the Senate voted again in favour of the administration.[14] But cooperation with moderate congressional Democrats remained only one half of the engagement formula. The other half was negotiating with China to achieve U.S. interests. The administration began that effort in fall 1991 and the agenda had expanded beyond human rights issues. Trade and security issues emerged as contentious issues capable of further damaging bilateral relations. In each of these areas the Bush administration negotiated for extensive compromises and on each Beijing made concession to reach agreement. Three trade issues emerged in 1991-1992: protection of intellectual patent rights in China, U.S. access to the Chinese market, and Chinese export of products made of prison labour. In each case the United States adapted coercive tactics and in each case China yielded to U.S. pressure.[15] The United States has used the threat of sanctions to bring China’s trade practice into conformity with international norms, in so doing trade sanctions to open Chinese market is preferable than congressional legislation protecting U.S. market from Chinese exports. Thus threatened economic sanctions are both necessary and constructive for engagement. U.S.-China negotiations concerning security issues reflected dynamics similar to those in the trade negotiations. Washington wanted China to adhere to the “guidelines and parameters” of the missile technology control regime (MTCR) and cancel its commitments of missile technology transfer to Pakistan and Syria. But China had not been party of the negotiations and had yet to be asked to sign the agreement. In spring 1991, U.S. intelligence agencies observed Chinese missile delivery vehicles to Pakistan, the so called M-11missiles. In order to block the transfer, Washington imposed targeted and limited sanctions on technology transfer to China, and blocking satellite exports. After nearly one year and additional sanctions Beijing agreed on a written commitment that China would abide by MTCR guidelines and parameters. Hence the Bush administration formally lifted its sanctions on technology exports to China.[16] Sanctions were again a necessary component for negotiations to change PRC proliferation policy that harmed U.S. interests. Targeted and limited sanctions imposed costs on PRC policy and, equally important, signalled China that Washington was prepared to implement additional and more costly sanctions and challenge U.S.-China cooperation should Chinese missile sale continue. Thus U.S. engagement policy created incentives for Beijing to cooperate without eliciting escalatory PRC retaliation.[17] The accomplishments of the Bush administration’s engagement policy were not limited to minimizing tensions and maintaining the status quo. By managing conflicts through negotiations and with persistent efforts to improve relations, the administration in August 1992 won China’s commitment in principle to sign the 1968 Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty.[18] China’s decision reflected the Bush administration’s sustained efforts to maintain U.S.-China cooperation in the difficult three years following the Beijing massacre. Engagement was premised on the fact that China is a great power and that pursuit of U.S. interests requires the United States to acknowledge Chinese interests and China’s ability to significantly harm American interests. At the end of the Bush administration’s term in office in January 1993, President Bush had not only managed to restore important elements of U.S.-China cooperation but also established a record of cooperating with post-Tiananmen China while achieving important American interests, thus establishing the precedent for successor administrations to pursue U.S.-China cooperation with reduced domestic opposition. It is no exaggeration that had the Bush administration failed in these efforts, had congressional critics determined U.S. policy toward China, U.S.-China relations would be much more conflictual than is now the case, with serious implications for American economic and security interests, as well as for regional stability. In retrospect, the president’s policy appears even more appropriate than it did at the time. The Bush administration’s success in maintaining and expanding cooperation with China reflected the two fundamental elements of a successful engagement policy: policy toward China and policy toward Congress. Both of these elements of policy making contributed to the maintenance of U.S-China cooperation and ultimately to the development of the necessary domestic support for that policy.

The Clinton administration:

As power passed from George Bush to William Jefferson Clinton , national leadership shifted from a president who paid considerable attention to foreign policy to one who did not. It moved from a man who personally cared about American relations with China to one who saw China through the eyes of advisers with competing agendas. Entering the White House in 1993, Clinton faced a landscape already littered with the debris of failing policies, shattered hopes, and partisan warfare. But his disinterest proved especially troublesome given the state of U.S.-China relations. Moreover, under Clinton Washington confronted a truculent regime in China, one battered by the Tiananmen crisis and its aftermath, belligerently unreceptive to American policies. In such an environment it is hardly surprising that a distracted Washington and a defiant Beijing produced policies yielding both frictions and frustration. The president although surrounded by knowledgeable and eager advisers, remained uninvolved, committed neither to reconciling disputes nor drawing informed conclusions. Although he spoke about the importance of the Asia region in the twenty-first century, his attention remained almost entirely on remedying domestic, mostly economic, problems. Clinton’s administration from the first agreed on an approach to China called engagement. Having accepted the need to interact with China, however, administration officials achieved no consensus over the kind of engagement that ought to be pursued.[19] Non of these groups, however, could command the attention of the president, and thus competing views of appropriate policies toward, and treatment of, China sometimes worked in tandem and at other times impeded progress. Especially in the first term, this resulted in a notable lack of coordination, rendering policy unfocused, inconsistent, and unreliable. In the election campaign of 1992 two clear themes emerged that would dominate policy considerations after the White House was captured: human rights and economics. Clinton’s staff Anthony Lake,[20] his national security adviser, Winston Lord,[21] assistant secretary of state for East Asian and Pacific Affaires argued strongly for a human rights agenda. Their Wilsonian idealism would be further reflected with the preferences of the new secretary of state, Warren Christopher.[22] The administration set out to hold China to high human rights standards, assuming that both economic and democratic goals could be achieved simultaneously. Thus moral rhetoric bound the new leadership to a tough approach to the “butchers of Beijing” and set the stage for the disastrous policy debacle of 1993-1994. Clinton’s first act was an executive order linking Beijing’s human rights behaviour to renewal of most favoured nation trade treatment for China. Chinese authorities were reluctant to yield and they found out that American business and even economic agencies in Clinton’s government opposed the prospect of limiting or revoking MFN for China. Clinton’s fault was to make his administration’s policy depended to the Chinese willingness to compromise, from there on his linkage policy moved steadily towards failure and embarrassment.[23] While the administration had been caught between commercial and principled engagement during its first months in office, it had concentrated less on the national security issues that had traditionally shaped Sino-American relations. The key players- Bill Clinton, Tony Lake, Warren Christopher- were not inclined to elevate strategic imperatives above economic and humanitarian concerns as had Richard Nixon and Henry Kissinger in the 1970s. The Pentagon was increasingly worried about continuing isolation of China in the early months of the administration. The security engagers considered engagement limited to trade and investment or to prickly issues of religious freedom and political association as short sighted and not confidence building.[24] For leaders at the Defense Department, security engagement would not only provide opportunities to address specific issues but also promote transparency, build trust, and arrest a drift towards conflict. Most pragmatically, they suggested that the existing policy of linking trade and human rights gave China little incentive to meet American demands. Access to the U.S. military, on the other hand, might be a positive inducement.[25] As a result of all these pressures President Clinton approved on a “comprehensive engagement” with frequent visits and regular exchanges between high level civilian officials, renewal of military-to-military contacts,[26] which were suspended since 1989 and a meeting with the Chinese President to a Clinton-Jiang summit during the approaching Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) meeting in Seattle. But all these didn’t help to overlap the constant source of frictions about human rights and MFN linkage. Finally, late in March 1994, the policy collapsed and was buried as Christopher conceded its unworkability and in May the decision was made to delink trade and human rights.[27] Clinton abandoned linkage but human rights remained an important component of rhetoric, although pressures from Congress and nongovernmental organizations continued. Furthermore the political costs of MFN fiasco had only magnified an earlier conviction, that U.S.-China relations were too complex and dangerous to command a great deal of time and attention. Key policy makers like the national security adviser and the secretary of state showed little interest in engaging in China policy.[28] As a result, forces on the outside grew more powerful and the administration lost control of events that’s might otherwise have been shaped, if not arrested, by those who understood the ramifications. A turning point appeared in 1995 and 1996 concerning Taiwan,[29] and the visiting of Taiwanese president Lee Teng-hui to the United States and later the Taiwanese elections which almost led the two Countries to a military confrontation. The speed with which events drew in the United States had a sobering effect on Beijing, Washington and some quarters of Taipei as well.[30] The Clinton administration was reluctant to grant the Taiwanese president a visa to visit his alma mater at Cornell University, because they feared the worst in U.S.-China relations after all the turmoil they had with MFN linkage. The PRC suspected the United States of improving their relations with Taiwan, though it was known that Lee Teng-hui was pursuing a policy of broader recognition for the Island in international organizations as well as in the United States, its major ally. As this was unfolding, a political earthquake hit Congress. Both Houses of Congress voted overwhelmingly in favour of a visa to Lee Teng-hui because it “didn’t want to permit China to determine the visa policy of the United States.”[31] Meanwhile, no one had warned the Chinese early and forcefully enough that in a democracy it was impossible to deny a visa to the president of another democracy. And no one had cautioned the members of Congress that the repercussions of their actions could be ruinous. The answer from Beijing came prompt, outraged over both the event and the seeming American duplicity, Beijing withdrew its ambassador, suspended cross-strait talks, refused to welcome a new American ambassador to China, and conducted provocative military exercises in the Taiwan Strait.[32] In early March 1996, Beijing announced a second set of tests and exercises: the missile tests and exercises coincided with the March 23 presidential elections on Taiwan. They effectively closed large areas of international waters, created turmoil in Taiwan’s financial market, and drove capital abroad. In response, Washington protested harsh and ordered the dispatch of two aircraft carrier battle groups to the waters of Taiwan. An intensive diplomatic exchange emerged between the American and Chinese envoys that could pacify the confrontation.[33] The Taiwan Strait confrontation of 1995-1996 made clear to both governments the danger of mismanaged U.S.-China relations and the capacity of Taiwan to take action that can prove Sino-American conflict, while underscoring the need for a strategic component to ties and ongoing discussions between each nation’s senior leaders. Lack of familiarity breeds contempt and dangerous misjudgement about mutual intentions. Moreover, the tensions made the administration realize that it needed to be more proactive in explaining its China policy to the American people, the mass media, and Capitol Hill. Although the administration disposed of the Taiwan Strait crisis rapidly and effectively, everyone felt chastened by both the danger of confrontation and the obvious disarray in American policy management. Lake was convinced to set aside his scruples and shift central control of China policy to the NSC.[34] With victory in the 1996 elections, Clinton entered his second term with the creation of a new team[35] which, although experienced, required time to become familiar with pressing problems and to learn to work together. Sino-American relations in Clinton’s second term proved almost as discordant and dangerous as in the first term. Anti-China sentiments had spread widely in the United States, fuelled by labour unions, the Christian Coalition, and political conservatives who labelled China a strategic threat, a human rights violator, and an unethical economic rival.[36] In 1997 Jiang came to Washington for a summit, the administration formally embraced the formulation that the United States and China were working toward a strategic partnership since the term comprehensive engagement had long lost its cachet and no longer met political needs.[37] This time both sides approached each other in different ways but without appreciable progress.[38] Clinton’s return visit suffered the same strengths and weaknesses.[39] The two most important developments during the trip dealt with human rights and Taiwan. Clinton held a live broadcast at the Peking University talking about human rights in stead of insisting on direct conversation with dissidents.[40] In Shanghai the President declared the so-called “Three Nos” regarding American policy toward Taiwan. The president assured the Chinese leaders, “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.”[41] Critics insisted that the three nos were a new departure because never before had a president put this formulation together publicly. Clinton had jettisoned the decade-old effort to preserve the right of the people of Taiwan to self-determination. And according to Taiwan officials as well as an overwhelming majority of the U.S. Congress, he had weakened Taipei’s position in impending cross strait negotiations. Doing so in China intensified the effect. For American officials at the State Department and NSC, fear of the rising of the independence-minded Democratic Progressive Party in Taiwan justified aggressive and preemptive initiatives, pressure Taipei into political negotiations with China. The Department of Defense and the Congress, however, did not share that view. As the civilian side of the administration appeared to lean toward Beijing, military officials emerged as proponents of Taiwan’s interests.[42] While the Clinton administration argued internally over appropriate cross-strait policies, the security agenda became highly politicized in Congress. Several members of Congress and their staff aides sought to illuminate the extent of Chinese military modernization, identify the degree to which it was becoming a threat, and support the defense of Taiwan by mandating regular Pentagon reports on the military balance in the Taiwan Strait. Thus, the 1999 finding of the special House of Representatives commission to investigate alleged Chinese illegal acquisition of U.S. technology, spying, and other illegal methods to build Chinese military power-the so called Cox Commission in reference to its chair, Representative Christopher Cox- enjoyed widespread support among members of Congress.[43] Another problematic issue was the 1999 bombing of the Chinese embassy during the Yugoslav war that infuriated Chinese nationalism, but also because the United States had bypassed the United Nations, where China enjoined a veto in the Security Council.[44] The issue that bridged the widening gap of distrust between Washington and Beijing in the late 1990s was China’s accession into the World Trade Organization.[45] Only after an agreement finally fell into place in the autumn of 1999 did the president finally mount a concerted effort to promote his policy of commercial engagement. Without Permanent Normal Trade Relations (PNTR), the president personally reminded Congress and public, China could refuse to honour commitments to the United States.[46] Clinton also argued that economic integration of China into the world community would advance human rights, the environment, and other sensitive issues better than a decision by Americans to opt out of a broadened economic relationship with the Chinese.[47] Thus early in the Clinton presidency, Sino-American relations seemed to many critics to be more contentious than they had been at the beginning of the administration. In the arena of principled engagement there had been few accomplishments, with the general breakdown in dialogue following the Belgrade bombing. During the succeeding months Beijing had mounted an aggressive campaign to suppress a sect, the Falung Gong. Chinese leaders saw it as undermining government authority, but Americans read their actions as religious persecution. In the spring of 2000 the secretary of state travelled to Geneva to denounce Chinese human rights abuses to the UMHCR. Those who had hoped security engagement would arrest a trend towards competition and conflict found themselves working simply to restore a disrupted military dialogue without much hope of making progress on divisive issues such as Taiwan or proliferation. Even commercial engagement involved controversy. To ask it to carry the burden of the entire relationship, creating enough understanding and mutual dependence to ensure elimination of human rights abuses and resolution of strategic disputes, while restoring confidence and promoting peace, seemed hardly reasonable. WTO would not be a panacea. Strategic partnership, like engagement, did not endow Clinton’s China policy with a broad gauged rationale. In early 2000 at a press conference, when defense secretary William Cohen was asked if the administration still considers China a strategic partner, he appeared uncomfortable, replying, “Well, we consider them a, uh, I’m not sure that ‘strategic partner’ is the official characterization of this point.”[48] Cohen’s hesitancy and uncertainty reflected the policy’s failure and the continuing lack of presidential leadership.[49] Clinton never personally authored a China policy or demanded one from his advisers. Between January 1993 and October 1997, China specialists in the government could not even overcome the indifference of the president long enough to generate a speech on China, which all agreed was crucial to stimulate public support of administration policy.[50] Clinton, in sharp contrast to Bush, preferred to leave China to the bureaucracy, where struggle and delayed proved unavoidable. His involvement in China policy making was episodic and related almost entirely to crisis management, ceremonial occasions, and economic advancement. He remained largely unmoved by the fact that the resulting inconsistency and unpredictability shook the confidence of Washington’s friends in the region. Similarly, he never acknowledged that the situation cultivated distrust among China’s leaders and encouraged even moderates in China to be inflexible because a weak administration in Washington could be manipulated and cowed. Weather called engagement or strategic partnership, the bottom line for the Clinton administration in its relations with China consistently remained interaction, not containment or ostracism. But in the absence of a coherent policy, Americans tended to approach China too timidly or too belligerently to make substantial progress.

III. Congress and Interest Groups:

Congress has had both the opportunity and the motivation to play a more active role in U.S. policy towards China over the last decade. The opportunity came as a result of the greater fluidity and pluralism in U.S. foreign policy decision making after the Cold War, and as a result of the reevaluation of U.S. policy towards China brought by the 1989 Tiananmen incident. The motivation came from a variety of sources, including the personal beliefs of individual members of Congress, pressure from groups with a special interest in U.S. relations with China, and partisan concerns in American domestic politics. Developments during the 1990s, notably the perception of growing Chinese power and importance to the United States, had the effect of narrowing the wide range of congressional views on how to deal with China. After some changes in policy direction, the Clinton administration by 1996 fairly consistently pursued a policy of engagement with China. The policy had many supporters in Congress but was sharply criticized by many others. Few of the congressional critics argued for steps that would endanger or reverse substantive U.S. trade and other mutually beneficial interactions with China. In effect, the continued active debate in Congress over China policy acted as a drag on forward movement in the relationship. For personal, interest group, partisan, and other reasons, critics in Congress seemed likely to remain active for the foreseeable future. That suggested that easing administration-congressional frictions over China policy, especially building a U.S. consensus behind a positive policy of engagement, was unlikely until circumstances such as Chinese government policies or the prevailing international balance of forces were to change in unanticipated directions. Since the ending of Cold War, Congress has played a greater role in U.S. China policy in particular and in U.S. foreign policy in general. The opportunity for a greater congressional role resulted from the lack of a clear direction in U.S. foreign policy, including policy toward China. Some have argued that perhaps a more experienced foreign policy leader, with a clearer vision of Asia-Pacific policy and a greater election mandate than the 43 percent of the popular vote that Bill Clinton won in 1992, would have been more decisive in formulating policy toward China. For example President Bush was a seasoned and attentive foreign and defense policy leader. He had a clear view of China policy and stuck with it, but he found his policy assailed from various sides after the 1989 Tiananmen crackdown in the more fluid and pluralistic U.S. foreign policy debates after the Cold War. Because security issues and opposition to communist expansion no longer dominate U.S. foreign policy, economic interests, democratization abroad, and human rights have greater prominence in policy making. Various pressure groups and other institutions interested in these and other subjects also have enhanced influence in policy making. In general, there has been a shift away from the leadership of the foreign policy elite in the past and toward greater pluralism. This pluralism increases the opportunity for input by nongovernmental or lobby groups with an interest in foreign policy, and it notably increases the importance of Congress.[51]

Personal Interests:

In Congress many have supported the engagement policy and the underlying premises of the policy. They have done so for a variety of reasons, including personal beliefs; the influence of important U.S. interests supportive of improved U.S.-Chinese relations, especially U.S. business interests involved with China; and partisan reasons.[52] On the other hand, many in Congress have continued to sharply criticize the engagement policy, and this criticism shows little sign of abating. The critics’ motives vary, depending on which congressional office one is addressing, but they include the following.[53] Several members of Congress have taken a strong personal interest in aspects of U.S. China policy. Nancy Pelosi and Frank Wolf, for example, are personally identified with concern over Chinese government human rights issues. Congressman Dana Rohrabacher and Senator Frank Murkowski are closely identified with strong U.S. support for Taiwan in the face of a perceived ballistic missile threat from the PRC. Senator Patrick Moynihan (now retired) and Representative Benjamin Gilman are strong personal supporters of liberalization in Tibet. Of course several members have identified notably with support for engagement with the PRC, notably including Senator Max Baucus, former Congressman Lee Hamilton, and others.

Partisan Politics:

Scholars have seen partisan politics as a motive behind some of the Democratic-led criticism of the Bush administration China policy, especially in the period leading up to the 1992 elections. By the same token, President Bush was able to sustain enough support in the Senate to preserve MFN trade status for China, in part by appealing to the party loyalties of Republican senators. During the Clinton administration, partisan cleavages were evident both within and between the parties. Once President Clinton shifted towards a more consistent policy of engagement, he was consistently criticized by many of the more liberal or prolabour members of his party in Congress. At this time, congressional Republican leaders who tended to support normal trade relations with China found their policies criticized by some representatives of religious and social conservatives- a potent force in the Republican Party. Scholars and other observers saw partisanship behind congressional Republican-led attacks against the Clinton administration engagement policy in 1997, 1998, and 1999. Seeking other issues to use to discredit the administration and the Democrats generally in the lead-up to the November 1998 elections, Republican congressional leaders used recent media reports of alleged improprieties in U.S. satellite launches on Chinese rockets. The reports implied Clinton administration nonfeasance and perhaps malfeasance, endangering U.S. national security allegedly for the sake of smooth business relations with China and perhaps campaign contributions from U.S. businesses and others with interest in smooth U.S. business relations with China. The furor in Congress lasted a few months. Several committees investigated the matter, but the issue died down by midyear. By that time, partisan interest on Capitol Hill was focused much more heavily on the impending House impeachment vote and the subsequent Senate trial. Congressional Republicans used China related issues in the lead-up to the 2000 elections, by accusing the Clinton administration for mishandling security issues with China, especially with disclosures related to congressional inquiries- particularly by the Cox Commission – over the previous year, that China had gained strategic weapons and other technology through spying and lapses in U.S. security. The alarming findings of the 1999 Cox Commission report- stressing China’s rising strategic power and alleging Clinton administration myopia in seeking engagement with China – marked an important milestone in the U.S. debate over China policy. The commission report gave deep seated judgements of many in Congress, especially many staff members who worked on China issues that the administration was much too soft in dealing with China, which they saw as a very serious and growing threat to U.S. security. There were few well-trained China specialists in senior staff positions in Congress in the 1990s. Congressional staff members sought out others with expertise in Chinese affaires who opposed the policies and practices of the Chinese government. In general, the views of the congressional staff members and their specialist associates were at odds with the more balanced views of many in the China specialist community, and they strongly opposed Clinton administration justification of the emerging U.S. “strategic partnership” with China. Congressional members were sometimes motivated to attack administration China policy for partisan reasons, with some Republican staff members hoping to add to the difficulties of the Democratic administration in an election year. Media Interests: Ever since the Tiananmen incident of 1989 U.S. media devoted heavy attention to policies and practices of the Chinese government that were seen in a negative light in the United States. Such coverage was viewed by an American public that held ambivalent views about the Chinese authorities and seemed prepared to consider negative issues raised by U.S. media.[54] For congressional critics of engagement policy, the above situation meant that their criticism would very likely be publicized in a favourable light by U.S. media and would receive due considerations from U.S public. As members of Congress often seek to take a public stance on an important issue that will receive recognition in the media and the public, some in Congress were aware, that their criticism of China could redound to their public reputation and political benefit.[55] In sum, the absence of political or other retribution meant that congressional China critics had a “free ride” as far as attacking the Chinese government was concerned. Given the personal, interest group, partisan, and media attention influencing congressional critics, as well as ample evidence of Chinese government policies and practices antithetical to U.S. interests and sensibilities, it is not surprising that congressional criticism of the engagement policy has remained strong in recent years.

Interest Groups: Growing Influence:

In recent years, successive U.S. administrations have had great difficulty in fielding a comprehensive and coordinated policy toward China that not only clearly defines promulgates U.S. national interests but also attracts widespread national support. To a great extent, the stage for current U.S. policy difficulties was set by the 1989 Tiananmen Square crackdown, from which China has never been rehabilitated in the eyes of most Americans. Several factors and policy trends in the past decade have opened the way for nongovernmental organizations and other organized interest groups to weigh more heavily into American policy decisions on China. Groups that tend to be more critical of U.S. engagement with China include those representing human rights groups, labour groups, religious and social conservatives, and arms control advocates. Sensitive to the view of important constituencies and sources of campaign support, congressional members are often open to lobbying and other persuasion and pressure from such groups. Often the personal inclinations of members of Congress and interest groups pressures on them are at odds when China policy is concerned. In subsequent years, however, members of Congress placed increasing emphasis on diverse and separate initiatives that have had implications for U.S.-China relations, including measures on human rights, nonproliferation, trade, Taiwan, religious freedom, national security, and other issues. At each stage of the process, NGOs and organized interest groups have been able to capitalize on growing policy differences to maximize their influence over decisions. The effectiveness these groups have had in altering policy decisions has waxed and waned, depending on the issue involved, the strength of the group or the individual, and the overall atmosphere of U.S.-China relations at the time. Their collective effectiveness, however, appears to have grown in the past decade. In general, the most successful have either spent significant time cultivating personal contacts and friendship with particular members of Congress or have been able to mobilize a broad spectrum of American public opinion in support of their interests. This chapter makes generalized observations about the role of nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) and other organized interest groups in U.S. policy towards China over the last decade and provides background and key information about selected NGOs and their influence.

Human Rights Groups:

To a great extent, a wide variety of organized interests groups have human rights issues as a component of their political platforms. In the purest sense, however, two important groups- Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch – may be called “human rights groups”, as it is their entire mission to focus international attention on a broad range of human rights abuses, both in China and elsewhere. Although they predate Tiananmen Square, these two international organizations often share common goals with other groups which represent issues that arose later in the policy debate- religious groups, the Tibet lobby, and democracy advocacy groups being only a few. With their extensive networks, however, Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch have the broadest and deepest reach in making human rights in China a key U.S. policy focus. Amnesty International is the standard by which other human rights organizations generally are measured. Founded in 1961, Amnesty today has more than 1,8 million members and donors in more than 160 countries and territories.[56] Amnesty regularly reports on, writes about, and testifies concerning a broad range of human rights abuses in China. Over thirty members of Congress have ”adopted” Chinese citizens that Amnesty believes to be political prisoners, regularly making appeals and inquiries about these prisoners. Focusing solely on individuals, Amnesty maintains that it takes no position on often political questions such as the status of territory. It is uniquely placed to work closely with officials of the United States and other governments because its mission is untainted by divisive political issues. In one of its current campaigns involving China, Amnesty USA is pushing for American businesses to adapt a set of voluntary principles for the human rights of workers in China.[57] A newer group, Human Rights Watch (HRW), was founded in 1978. While also pursuing a mission of protecting international human rights, HRW distinguishes itself from Amnesty in that it focuses less on individuals and more on governments. HRW claims to “investigate and expose human rights violations and holds abusers accountable”, and to challenge governments and those who hold power to end abusive practices.[58] HRW is significantly more involved in the U.S. policy process than Amnesty, meting regularly with State Department officials at the National Security Council, Commerce Department, and U.S. Representative’s office, as well as with members of Congress. HRW’s excellent Washington, DC, office essentially wears two hats in the U.S. policy process- participating in regular, friendly, a mutual beneficially information exchanges with U.S. government offices, balanced at times with a more adversarial relationship on policy issues. Like Amnesty, HRW is viewed as highly credible. The groups representative’s readily admit when they can not confirm human rights abuses allegations in China that other, less well-known groups claim are true.

Religious Groups:

Beginning early in the 1990s, conservative religious groups and “valued-oriented” groups began to become visible and outspoken critics on a range of issues having to do with abortion, homosexuality, and other matters having to do with moral values. Two key influential groups in this movement are the Christian Coalition[59] and the Family Research Council.[60] Throughout much of the 1990s, the primary China focus of the Christian right appeared to be in working to keep restrictions in place in U.S funding for international family planning programs.[61] In 1997, during the 105th Congress, the FRC, Christian Coalition, and other conservative Christian groups became significantly more involved in the American China debate than during the previous decade. Keeping to tradition, they remained active on antiabortion issues as these related to legislation involving China. In addition, these groups became particularly active in two other issues: religious persecution and China’s MFN status.[62] Partially as a result of this involvement by conservative Christian groups, the congressional debate on China beginning in 1997 became infused with attitudes involving morality and values. The debate on international religious persecution highlighted important differences in the American religious community between many mainstream religious groups, on the one hand, and the FRC, Christian Coalition, and other conservative religious organizations, on the other. Many members of religious affiliated groups, such as the National Council of Churches and the National Association of Evangelicals, were supportive of concerns about religious persecution but worked to moderate pending legislation and in some cases actively opposed pending bills. These moderating sentiments were not shared by the coalition, the FRC, or other similar conservative Christian groups.[63]

Think Tanks and Other Public Policy/Research Groups:

Independent research and educational groups, so-called think tanks, have been an important source of influence and information on U.S. policy towards China. What sets these groups apart from academic research institutions (many of which also influence American decisions and actions involving China) is their focus on public policy research, which makes them an important source of information and informed opinion for U.S. policymakers. These groups generally seek to bring together in conferences and working group sessions a collection of researchers and specialists in the academic community, members of the business community, and U.S. and foreign government policymakers to confer about current issues and problems. Often the end result is a published work- a pamphlet, book, or journal – analyzing the results of the discussion and setting forth a list of policy recommendations. Public policy research groups, however, generally seek broader roles in the policy process.[64] Although all these organizations describe themselves as “private, non-profit, non-partisan” institutions, each ends to be associated with a particular spot on the ideological spectrum and sometimes with a particular political party. Given these ideological predispositions, a given think tank’s influence in the policy process may be cyclical-rising and falling depending weather its values are shared by an incumbent administration or Congress. Some public policy research groups start from the premise that further Sino-American contacts will improve mutual understanding. They seek to foster exchange and dialogue, both among policymakers and among those outside the governmental community and they provide a forum for debate, discussion, and research on related issues. Two of the most well-recognized and effective groups are the National Committee on U.S-China relations[65] and the U.S.-China Policy Foundation.[66] National Committee board members and officers often testify at congressional hearings on China, participate in briefings for U.S. government officials, and prepare briefing materials for delegations visiting China. The China Policy Series, which is given out by the National Committee is a good source to which policymakers have access. In recent years the Committee also was involved in the so called “track 2” dialogue, an attempt to supplement predictable and uninspiring U.S. China talks with unofficial but high level-visits by former U.S. governmental officials and others with influence in the policy process.[67] The National Committee continues to be involved with congressional delegations trips to China, providing access, information, and funding. The U.S. China Policy Foundation is a smaller group than the National Committee, with far less funding. But the Foundation has close contacts with the National Committee and some of its advisers are on the National Committee board. It is a few blocks from Capitol Hill and gives lunch seminars for congressional staff on issues involving China. The Foundation has a monthly newsletter, U.S.-China Policy Review, and twice yearly publishes the Washington Journal of Modern China. The Foundation is also sponsoring regular congressional delegation visits to China, and is further interested to expand its presence and programs.[68] Sometimes U.S. academic and other specialists, along with representatives of foreign governments affected by U.S.-China relations, would endeavour to lobby Congress in favour of smooth relations.[69] Sometimes members of Congress would be persuaded by their arguments. However, the ability of these groups to reward or punish congressional members was very limited, meaning that their impact on the congressional process was probably also limited.

The Business Lobby:

U.S. business interests in trade and other commercial interchange with China grew markedly in the 1990s and brought their influence to bear in Congress, especially in seeking, continued support for U.S. NTR treatment for Chinese imports. These groups were very effective in showing congressional representatives how many jobs and other interests in their districts would be affected by loss of NTR status for China.[70] The implication was clear- these constituents would be very unhappy if their representatives in Congress voted against NTR for China. Of course, from time to time, important U.S. business interests register concerns about Chinese practices and pressure the administration and Congress for remedial action. Thus, with strong congressional support, President Clinton in 1996 pressured the Chinese government hard to reach an agreement to reduce Chinese infringements on U.S. business intellectual property rights.[71] The so called U.S.-China business lobby is a broad assortment of business groups that have economic interest in China and consequently are anxious to maintain smooth and beneficial U.S. policies toward Beijing.[72] The economic pull of a potentially vast “China market” has prompted business community involvement in U.S.-China policy since the formative days of the relationship. One of the most prominent business organizations influencing U.S. China policy is the U.S.-China Business Council that was found in 1973 on the heels of the Nixon-Kissinger opening to China. Primarily, the Council serves the interests of its member corporations, providing market information and advice about investing in or trading with China: publishing a bimonthly magazine and a monthly newsletter on developments on China’s trade and investment climate: In addition, according to a self description, the Council is “a private, non-profit, non-partisan!”, organization that carries out “activities in support of [U.S.] government policies conductive to expand U.S.-China commercial and economic ties.[73] The Council works regularly and primarily with U.S. administration officials on problems and issues involving its constituency and it holds a number of annual conferences and regular meetings to discuss policy issues. Two of the approximately thirty staff members are involved in lobbying Congress on issues involving China, and most of representations to Congress are carried out by member corporations. Nevertheless, in recent years, the Council has been seen as a prominent player in the debate over MFN and PNTR trade status for China.[74] There is also the Business Coalitions that is created by four core organizations: the ECAT, the U.S.-China Business Council, the Business Roundtable, and the American Chamber of Commerce. The Coalition is unique that its single focus and intend has been protecting China’s trade status. For the past nine years, lobbying for Congress to grant China PNTR.[75] Another business organization pertinent to U.S. policy decisions on China is the International Intellectual Property Alliance (IIPA), formed in 1984. IIPA is an umbrella organization for seven trade associations involved in U.S. copy-right-based industries.[76] Like the U.S.-China Business Council, IIPA works primarily with U.S. and other governmental agencies to ensure that governments establish a legal and enforcement regime for copyrighted materials that protects property, deters piracy, and encourages a beneficial investment and employment climate. The IIPA works closely with the U.S. Trade Representative on “Special 301” review concerning intellectual property protection. IIPA works with Congress generally involves efforts to amend U.S. trade laws to provide for better IP protection.[77]

The Taiwan Lobby:

No discussion of the role that interest groups play in influencing U.S.-China policy would be complete without at least brief mention of this important group. The loosely defined Taiwan lobby is the group of activists with the most consistent and in-depth influence over the U.S.-China policy process. Consisting of Taiwan government officials, members of the business community, groups of American citizens of both Taiwanese or Chinese ancestry, and U.S. based groups advocating independence for Taiwan, the amorphous Taiwan lobby is deeply committed to representing various interests involving Taiwan at every relevant point in the American policy process. The Taiwan lobby was the critical factor n 1995, for instance, when Congress passed a resolution urging the president to invite Taiwan’s president, Lee Teng-hui, to the United States.[78] This invitation contributed in large part to the 1996 Taiwan Strait missile crisis, the most confrontational crisis in U.S.-China relations since normalization of relations in 1979, involving live-fire missile exercise by China and the corresponding American dispatch of two carrier battle groups to the area. In the 105th Congress (1997-1998), Taiwan interests helped pass a resolution urging Taiwan’s unconditional admittance to the World Trade Organization (WTO), a bill requiring the United States to develop plans for a theatre missile defense (TMD) system for Taiwan[79] and several resolutions reaffirming and clarifying U.S. support for Taiwan in conjunction with President Clinton’s three nos statement in Shanghai, which some interpreted as a change in U.S. policy towards Taiwan. In the 106th Congress, Taiwan interests were reflected in the Taiwan Security Enhancement Act, a bill designed to enhance U.S.-Taiwan military communication and cooperation, as well as strengthen Taiwan’s security.[80]

An examination of U.S. China policy over the past decade and the activities of organized interest groups in the policy process results in the following observation. First, the changes that foreign policy debate has undergone in the last decade suggest that U.S.-China relations are not likely to improve or become less controversial over the near term. While essentially a policy of consensus in the 1980s, questions about the direction of U.S. policy over China became cantankerous within a few months of the Tiananmen Square crackdown and have generally remained that way since. Long-standing issues involving non-proliferation, national security, and human rights have only grow in importance within the U.S. policy debate over the past decade. So-called sovereignty issues- Tibet, Xinjiang, and most importantly Taiwan – continue to be divisive and potentially destabilizing issues in the relationship. From this perspective, it would appear that political circumstances will continue to provide opportunities for organized groups that have vested interests in these issues to seek to influence American political process. Two other reasons cited for growing NGO activity over the past decade will continue to be variables in the future: the blurring of traditional party and ideological lines, and the animosity and partisanship that comes with a divided U.S. government – between a Democratic Congress and the Republican White House during the Bush Sr. administration, and particularly between a conservative Republican Congress and the Clinton White House. These systemic, sometimes sharp policy differences made it difficult to tell whether the views and actions of interest groups were a contributing factor, or whether groups were merely exploiting policy differences that already existed. Although this policy dynamic changed with the election in 2000 of Republican George W. Bush and a Republican Congress, raise the prospects for a future divided government, with subsequent implications for NGO activity and influence. These issues are important for making future judgments about the role and effectiveness of nongovernmental organized interest groups. Absent demonstrable changes in China’s policies or in the nature of the American political process, there are few forces apparent on the horizon that seems capable of making U.S. policy debates on China over the near term significantly smoother than they have been over the past decade. The result will be that these issues will be go on being problematic for U.S.-China relations, for American policymakers and the political process, and, indirectly, for internal Chinese policies.


At the start of the twenty first century, America and China are once again at a crossroads in their relationship. The decisions made today and tomorrow will profoundly shape the lives of peoples in both countries and people around the world, for decades to come. To understand today’s choices; an abbreviated reflection on more than forty years of cold war experience is instructive. In the United States, President Truman and Secretary of State Dean Acheson had both internal and external considerations in terms of the China relationship. Throughout his administration, Harry Truman faced a circumstance in which one house of Congress or the other always was dominated by the opposition Republican Party that was highly sympathetic to the defeated Chinese Nationalists on Taiwan. Public opinion was against China and Congress followed with predictable rhetoric which reinforced Anti-American rhetoric and behaviour in the PRC. China’s alliance with Moscow in the early days of the cold war made it a geostrategic threat to the United States. The containment of China drove the PRC into the arms of the Soviet Union and later into the posture of an isolated, angry nation at war with much of the international system.[81] Unforeseeable, political events overtook political leaders both in Beijing and Washington when Kim Il Sung attacked South Korea; the following maelstrom carried America and China into a hot and cold conflict that lasted for the next two decades.

A cooperative or conflictual relationship:

A similar combination of misunderstandings could produce Sino-American conflict again. Both nations have more to gain from a cooperative relationship than one of struggle and conflict. The agenda for the new millennium ought to be to avoid repeating the errors of the previous century and create the potential materials for their mutual beneficial relationship. The future must be shaped and it is not preordained. The factors that have shaped the U.S.-China relationship during the 1989-2000 period, will probably continue to do so in the future: first of all there is the perception of American and Chinese leaders concerning their counterpart’s interests, intentions, and capabilities; secondly, the degree to which there are important areas of cooperation that help moderate inevitable frictions in other domains; and thirdly, the extent to which there are agreed-upon rules, norms, and institutions to which both sides are committed as they address disputes. Notably, the behaviour of both nations today shapes the substance of these variables for tomorrow. There are both hopeful signs and worrying indications in the relationship. If Americans and Chinese can develop shared, nonthreatening perceptions of one another’s fundamental interests and intentions, find important and tangible areas of cooperation, and develop shared norms and bilateral and multilateral institutions that provide a framework in which conflict can be managed, there may be a bright future for the relationship. Conversely, if negative developments occur along each of the three aforementioned dimensions, the prospect for a conflict-laden relationship is great, perhaps dangerously so. In all probability, the future will be characterized by a mixed relationship in which cooperation coexists with significant competition and friction. But Tiananmen will endure as a subject of contention between the United States and China, at least as a subtext of other issues, particularly human rights. In a sense Americans haven’t gotten beyond Tiananmen.[82] The list of major problems in U.S.-China relations since Tiananmen has remained generally stable. – Human rights, non-proliferation, reciprocity in the trade relationship, and Taiwan. The period from 1989 to 2000 saw a constant series of disputes, wrangling, and tensions over these four issues, occasionally interspersed with brief periods of relative amity, and optimism as well as instances of tension and outright antagonism. There was no real norm, no status quo, to normalize it. There seemed to be no consensus, however, on what a normal relationship could or should be. In neither country, however, has there been a commensurate change in the way U.S.-China relations are considered or in how the other country is viewed by their respective governments. Both sides have adopted general frameworks, or strategies, for the twenty first century. But there is little agreement, and not much serious discussion between the two, on what the goals and parameters of the relationship should be. There is considerable speculation that U.S.-China relations took a fundamental turn for the better after September 11, 2001, terrorist attack on the United States. In that joint opposition to terrorism became the new strategic underpinning for U.S.-China cooperation. Not everybody might subscribe to this opinion but nobody can deny that some aspects of bilateral relations have improved markedly. Suspicions, misperceptions, and miscommunication continue to mar the relationship and will limit the improvements that may ensue as the war against terrorism plays out. The Clinton administration’s effort to build a “constructive, strategic partnership” with China fell flat, politically, and was quietly shelved, even by Vive President Al Gore as he ran for the presidency in 2000. The ultimately victorious campaign of Texas governor George W. Bush took a much harder line towards China, at least initially, denying that China was a strategic partner and declaring it a “competitor” or “strategic competitor” of the United States In rhetoric reminiscent of the cold war approach to the Soviet Union, Bush cautioned Americans that China was investing in strategic nuclear weapons and other military might, that it constituted an “intelligence threat” to the United States, that was “an enemy of religious freedom and a sponsor of forced abortion”, and that it needed to be dealt with “ without illusions”.[83] After gaining office, the Bush administration’s policy towards China underwent a gradual change towards engagement of the sort practiced by the Clinton administration in its second term. Nonetheless, in its first published “National Security Strategy” paper in 2002, it took an ambivalent attitude towards China. “We welcome the emergence of a strong, peaceful, and prosperous China”, it stated and highlighted several areas of cooperation. But it remained critical of China’s domestic political situation: “The democratic development of China is crucial to its future…. To make that nation truly accountable to its citizens’ needs and aspirations, however, much work remains to be done. Only by allowing the Chinese people to think, assemble and worship freely can China reach its full potential.”[84] U.S.-China relations have not been well served by a general overconcertration on the “strategic” dimension of the relationship. First of all, the word itself has been deprived of substantive meaning over time and especially since the disappearance of a specific enemy or target for military action, such as the Soviet Union. Outside the context of a military campaign, the word “strategic” tends to get rather fuzzy in definition – sometimes meaning little more “important in a larger context”. The first Bush administration’s expressed desire to restore a “strategic” relationship with China in the face of the collapse of communism in Eastern Europe and Russia made little sense to the Congress or to the public. The Clinton administration’s hope to build a “strategic partnership” with China was not well defined and created more confusion than clarity. At the beginning of the twenty-first century both sides have begun to use the term “strategic” more often with the side as the adversary rather than as partner. But since neither side is prepared to really treat the other as a strategic opponent, it might be wise to focus the relationship on other definitional terms. Until such time the two sides can agree on what term should follow the word “strategic” in a definition of bilateral ties, and sell it to their respective domestic audiences, Washington and Beijing should accept the reality that they do not and will not have a strategic relationship. They can and do talk regularly about international events and trends and even about common interests, such as the Korean Peninsula and South Asia. But these do not constitute even a significant portion of a “strategic” relationship, and until the two countries can objectively define what role their military establishment play in relations to each other, the discussion of a “strategic relationship” might better be suspended.


James Baker III with Thomas M. DeFrank: The Politics of Diplomacy. Revolution, War, Peace, 1989-1992. New York, 1995.

George Bush with Victor Gold, Looking Forward: An Autobiography. New York, 1987.

George Bush and Brent Scowcroft: A World Transformed. The Collapse of the Soviet Empire, Unification of Germany, Tiananmen Square, the Golf War. New York, 1998.

Ashton B. Carter and William J. Perry: Preventive Defense. A New Security Strategy for America. Washington, 1999.

Nayan Chanda in Far Eastern Economic Review. March 11, 2000.

Kerry Dumbaugh: China’s Most-Favoured Nation (MFN) status: Congressional Considerations, 1989-1998.

Mat Forney and Nickel Holloway: Sunny Side Up. In Far Eastern Economic Review. July 25, 1996.

Bates Gill: Limited Engagement. In: Foreign Affaires, July-August 1999.

Harry Hardling: Public Engagement in American Foreign Policy. (Paper presented at the American Assembly, Columbia University, February 23-25, 1995).

David M. Lampton: Same Bed, Different Dreams. Managing U.S-China Relations 1989-2000. Berkley, 2001.

Susan W. Lawrence: Magic Words. In: Far Eastern Economic Review. July 16, 1998.

David Tawei Lee, The Making of the Taiwan Relations Act: Twenty Years in Retrospect (Oxford, 2000).

James A. Madison: Congress and Foreign Policy-Making. A Study in Legislative Influence and Initiative (Homewood, Ill.1962).

Jim Mann: U.S. Envisions New Military Ties to China. Los Angeles Times, March 7, 1994.

Jim Mann: About face. A History of America’s Curious Relations with China, from Nixon to Clinton. New York, 1999.

Ramon H. Myers, Michael C. Oksenberg, and David Shambaugh: Making China Policy. Lessons from the Bush and Clinton Administration. New York, 2001.

John Pomfret: U.S. seeks China-Taiwan Dialogue. Delegation Attempts to Facilitate Back Channel of Communication. Washington Post, February 21, 1998.

David E. Sanger: President Views Success of China Trade Bill as his Foreign Policy Legacy. In: New York Times. May 22, 2000.

Richard Solomon (ed.): The China Factor. Englewood Cliffs, 1981.

Robert Sutter: U.S. Policy Toward China. An Introduction to the role of Interest Groups. Lanham, 1998.

Robert L. Suettinger: Beyond Tiananmen. The Politics of U.S.-China Relations 1989-2000. Washington, 2003.

Michael D. Swaine: The Military and the Political Succession in China. California, RAND 1992.

Nancy Tucker: Taiwan, Hong Kong, and the United States, 1945-1992: Uncertain Friendships. New York, 1994.

Patrick Tyler: U.S. and China Agree to Expand Defense Links. New York Times, November 3, 1993.

Patrick Tyler : A Great Wall. Six Presidents and China. New York, 1999.

Internet addresses:


[1] See James A. Madison: Congress and Foreign Policy-Making. A Study in Legislative Influence and Initiative (Homewood, Ill.1962).

[2] See James Mann: About Face. A History of America’s Curious Relationship with China, from Nixon to Clinton (New York, 1999), chap. 3, for how Sino-American cooperation evolved in the 1970s.

[3] The Taiwan Relation Act maintained the right for the United States to continue providing advanced weapons systems to Taiwan for its self-defense. In the 1990s the TRA became an issue of bitter contention between the United States and PRC. For a good account of the struggle between the executive branch and the Congress over the drafting and wording of the TRA, see David Tawei Lee, The Making of the Taiwan Relations Act: Twenty Years in Retrospect (Oxford, 2000).

[4] President Bush had managed the CIA and had served as ambassador to the United Nations and the Chief of the Liaison Office in Beijing. As vice president under the Reagan administration, he had been actively involved in foreign policy making. See Robert L. Suettinger: Beyond Tiananmen. The Politics of U.S.-China Relations 1989-2000. Washington, 2003. P. 23.

[5] Bush’s experience in China is discussed in his Memoir, George Bush with Victor Gold, Looking Forward: An Autobiography. New York, 1987. Also in George Bush and Brent Scowcroft: A World Transformed. The Collapse of the Soviet Empire, Unification of Germany, Tiananmen Square, the Golf War. New York, 1998. Bush’s relationship with his advisers is discussed in James Baker III with Thomas M. DeFrank: The Politics of Diplomacy. Revolution, War, Peace, 1989-1992. New York, 1995. P. 100-101. Also see Patrick Tyler : A Great Wall. Six Presidents and China. New York, 1999. P.368-372.

[6] Ramon H. Myers, Michael C. Oksenberg, and David Shambaugh: Making China Policy. Lessons from the Bush and Clinton Administration. New York, 2001. P. 25-26

[7] The background to this visit is discussed in Baker: Policy of Diplomacy. P. 108-109. For Deputy Secretary of State Lawrence Eagleburger see Jim Mann: About face. A History of America’s Curious Relations with China, from Nixon to Clinton. New York, 1999. P. 205-207.

[8] Deng Xiaoping had asked Richard Nixon and Henry Kissinger to tell the President that China was prepared to restore cooperation if America took the initiative. See Suettinger: Beyond Tiananmen. P. 97-98.

[9] Mayers, Oksenberg, Shambaugh: Making China Policy. P. 27.

[10] Mayers, Oksenberg, Shambaugh: Making China Policy. P. 28-29.

[11] For a comprehensive discussion of congressional efforts to legislate to China’s MFN status, see Kerry Dumbaugh: China’s Most-Favoured Nation (MFN) status: Congressional Considerations, 1989-1998.

[12] One important congressional act was the Pelosi bill which would have enabled Chinese Students to remain in the United States after their visas expired. The second congressional effort was to cancel China’s Most Favoured Nation (MFN) status or to link continuation of MFN to improvements in China’s human rights situation. See Suettinger: Beyond Tiananmen. P. 66-68. See also David M. Lampton: Same Bed, Different Dreams. Managing U.S-China Relations 1989-2000. Berkley, 2001. P. 22-28.

[13] For over two years following the Beijing massacre, the president’s political standing benefited from sustained economic growth and a succession of international success, so that his approval rating never dropped below 66 percent. Such popularity enabled the president to take controversial stands and incur criticism on a wide range of issues, including China policy. See Mayers, Oksenberg, Shambaugh: Making China Policy. P. 31.

[14] Suettinger: Beyond Tiananmen. P. 117-122.

[15] Myers, Oksenberg, Shambaugh: Making China Policy. P. 34-36. In mid 1991 the U.S. Economic Policy Council recommended that the White House investigate China for infringement on U.S. intellectual patent rights and apply sanctions should it fail to adapt satisfactory measures. Washington published a list of threatened tariffs worth $1,5 billion and it also warned that if Beijing would retaliate against U.S. sanctions, it would lose its MFN status. Concerning access to the Chinese market the White House ordered an investigation regarding Chinese use of quotas, import bans, licensing procedures, technology standards, and nontransparency of domestic regulation to restrict imports and threatened to impose sanctions valued at $3.9billion. Also regarding Chinese export of goods made by prison labour the United States seized a shipment of Chinese tools and the State Council put a ban on export of prison made goods, than China promised to investigate and prevent further export of prisoner made goods.

[16] Suettinger: Beyond Tiananmen. P. 121, 130-133. Providing for Pakistan’s deterrence capability against the far superior Indian army was a vital Chinese interest. But Chinese missile exports challenged important U.S. security interests. They undermined U.S. efforts to achieve comprehensive international non-proliferation of a weapon that weakened U.S. military superiority around the globe, and they could destabilize the security order in the Middle East and the Persian Golf, thus threatening U.S. security partners and involving the United States in regional hostilities.

[17] Later at the end of 1992 China in retaliation to the sale of 150 F-16 Fighters to Taiwan, transferred M-11 missiles to Pakistan and reached a formal agreement with Iran to cooperate on nuclear energy, thus breaking its February 1, 1992, commitment to abide by the terms of MTCR. But also the F-16 sale clearly violated the terms of the August 17, 1982, U.S.-China agreement on U.S. arms sales to Taiwan, in which the United States agreed that the quality of U.S. arms sold to Taiwan would not exceed the quality of arms sold during the Carter administration and that the quantity of arms sold to Taiwan would gradually diminish. See Suettinger: Beyond Tiananmen. P. 138-144. Also Lampton: Same Bed, Different Dreams. P. 107.

[18] China had been the last holdout among the major nuclear powers and its membership in the regime had been at the top of the U.S. arms dialogue during the 1990 visits by American envoys. See Suettinger: beyond Tiananmen. P. 173.

[19] In fact, different sectors of the Clinton team viewed the purpose of engagement differently. Advocates of “principled engagement” sought to further a human rights agenda that had emerged in the presidential campaign. Partisans of £security engagement” were troubled by Chinese military modernization and the absence of military-to-military contact that could promote understanding while avoiding conflict. And champions of “commercial engagement” asserted the applicability to China of a broader administration preoccupation with growth and development at home and abroad. See Lampton: same Bed, Different Dreams. P. 33-39.

[20] Anthony Lake was a former Foreign Service officer who served in the Kissinger National Security Council during the Nixon administration but quit in opposition to the 1970 U.S. incursion into Cambodia, became national security adviser. He was also head of Policy Planning at the State Department and key adviser to Vance during the Carter administration. See Suettinger. Beyond Tiananmen. P. 156, His views on China policy 178-179.

[21] Winston Lord had accompanied Henry Kissinger on his secret trip to Beijing in1971. Having served a long time aide to Dr. Kissinger, Lord knew the intricacies of the bilateral relationship and the key Chinese personalities. He also had been ambassador to Beijing from Nov. 1985- Apr. 1989. His toughness against the Tiananmen violence, and his position on human rights gave him credibility on Capital Hill. See more about his China policy in Lampton. Same Bed, Different Dreams. P. 37-39.

[22] Warren Christopher had served as deputy secretary of state under Jimmy Carter. In December 1978 immediately after normalization of U.S.-China relations had been announced, Christopher had been sent to Taipei to talk to the Taiwanese president Chiang Ching-kuo why the United States had established formal diplomatic relations with Beijing and informing Chiang that ties with Taipei would henceforth be “unofficial”. His departure was marked by riots and some physical attacks, thereafter he never gave the impression that he enjoyed his China experiences much, weather in Taipei or Beijing. See Lampton: Same Bed, Different Dreams. P. 35. See also Nancy Tucker: Taiwan, Hong Kong, and the United States, 1945-1992: Uncertain Friendships. New York, 1994. P. 132, 134.

[23] Myers, Oksenberg, Shambaugh: Making China Policy. P. 48-49. Also Suettinger: Beyond Tiananmen. P. 165-168, 183-199.

[24] In the first Clinton administration further signs of a containment strategy quickly accumulated as the United States upgraded its informal ties with Taiwan, threatened war against North Korea, renegotiated its defense arrangement with Japan, began a strategic dialogue with India, and moved toward diplomatic relations with Vietnam.

[25] Michael D. Swaine: The Military and the Political Succession in China. California, RAND 1992.

[26] Patrick Tyler: U.S. and China Agree to Expand Defense Links. New York Times, November 3, 1993. Jim Mann: U.S. Envisions New Military Ties to China. Los Angeles Times, March 7, 1994.

[27] Li Peng the Chinese prime minister had make it clear in his rhetorical assault on Christopher in March 1994 that Beijing believed MFN would pass regardless of China’s human rights record. At home Clinton’s reversal became a symbol of his vacillation and weakness on foreign policy and his obsession with his political and economic agenda. See Myers, Oksenberg, Shambaugh: Making China Policy. P. 53.

[28] Tony Lake was determined not to be perceived as an Empire builder on the Brzezinski or Kissinger model. And he felt that he had already encroached on State Department turf over Central Europe and Haiti. Furthermore he had become heavily committed to supervising Bosnia policy and largely ignored China. At the same time secretary of state Christopher did not take charge, one reason was his indignation about his humiliating treatment in Beijing in March 1994 by Li Peng and his earlier ordeal in Taipei in 1978 when he was physically attacked by an anti-American mob. Those emotionally wrenching experiences declined his already minimal interest in Chinese affaires. See Myers, Oksenberg, Shambaugh: Making China Policy. P. 55.

[29] Taiwan had been the key stumbling block in U.S.-China relations from the beginning of the cold war through the 1970s, but it had temporary receded as a prominent irritant after late 1982. In the mid 1990s the issue once again surged to the top of Sino-American agenda, and it remains the most dangerous flashpoint in U.S.-China relations as we enter the twenty first century

[30] As then Secretary of Defense William Perry said, “We realized that things, if not attended to, could go quickly and seriously wrong.” See Ashton B. Carter and William J. Perry: Preventive Defense. A New Security Strategy for America. Washington, 1999. Ch. 3.

[31] Senator Chuck Robb to Bill Clinton on May 18 meeting. The House voted 390 to 0 and the Senate voted 97 to 1. See Lampton: Same Bed, Different Dreams. P. 49.

[32] See Lampton: Same Bed, Different Dreams. P. 52.

[33] National security adviser Tony Lake, Secretary of defense, Perry, and Secretary of State Christopher had the opportunity to meet Liu Huaqiu, the Chinese analogue to the national security adviser who was in Washington when the missiles flew. They decided to invigorate engagement and initiate a “strategic dialogue”. A visit by Lake in July and than by Christopher and high level senior arms control officials and military personnel followed. See Lampton: Same Bed, Different Dreams. P. 53.

[34] Lake appeared to give the Clinton administration the opportunity for a new beginning with China. He quickly curtailed the tendency of different government departments and bureaus to make their own China policies I tune with the priorities of their own constituencies. He established a channel of communication with Liu Huaqiu and travelled to Beijing in July 1996. There he promised a full state visit for Jiang Zemin in Washington for the autumn of the 1997. See Mat Forney and Nickel Holloway: Sunny Side Up. In Far Eastern Economic Review. July 25, 1996. P. 14-16.

[35] Madeleine Albright became new secretary of state. She had served as ambassador to the United Nations in the first term and had developed a reputation at the United Nations for tough talk and decisive action. William S. Cohen became new secretary of defense. A three term Republican senator, Cohen was experienced in defense matters and well respected by his colleagues in the Senate and by the senior military leadership in the Pentagon. Neither the new secretary of state, Madeleine Albright, nor the secretary of defense, William Cohen, had much experience with or interest in Asia. Only the new national security adviser Samuel “Sandy” Berger, had paid much attention to the area. He was able to formalize his predominance as the president’s closest and most influential foreign policy adviser. See Suettinger: Beyond Tiananmen. P. 290-291.

[36] Richard Bernstein and Russ Munro summed up much of this alarm in their provocative book, The Coming Conflict with China. 1997.

[37] See Myers, Oksenberg, Shambaugh: Making China Policy. P. 59-60. Not only did it fail to describe Sino-American relations accurately, but it also confused and distressed genuine strategic partners in Asia such as South Korea and Japan. Furthermore, it raised false expectations about U.S. willingness to meet Beijing’s demands on sensitive issues such as arms sales to Taiwan. As Tony Lake would later observe, “it creates illusions, and disillusion is very dangerous.”

[38] The most satisfied participants were those advocating commercial engagement. Business executives received a strong boost from a huge Boeing aircraft sale (valued $3 billion) as well as the possibility of reactivation of a 1985 nuclear agreement that would mean lucrative atomic reactor sales. Those about security engagement engineered a maritime communication accord to avoid incidents at sea, establishment of a hotline and Chinese promises not to export nuclear materials to Iran. China also indicated to release two prominent dissidents from prison, but no broader progress on human rights resulted. See Suettinger: Beyond Tiananmen. P. 322-323.

[39] Clinton spent the bare minimum of time in official meetings, perhaps two to three hours out of the nine days. The United States had wanted China formally to join the missile technology control regime, but China would do no more than agree actively to study the issue. See Myers, Oksenberg, Shambaugh: Making China Policy. P. 61.

[40] But the Chinese wouldn’t give the broadcast any publicity. Even those Chinese who had access to TV sets had no warning that Clinton would be speaking. Moreover, the translation was severely flawed.

[41] See Susan W. Lawrence: Magic Words. In: Far Eastern Economic Review. July 16, 1998. P. 18.

[42] In part this was, of course, an ingrained institutional struggle: the Pentagon invariably worried more about Chinese military capabilities and intentions.

[43] Congress approved the Cox Committee investigatory, which accused Clinton and Sandy Berger, of disregarding warnings about Chinese espionage and its alleged weakening of American defenses. The report also accumulated that commercial concerns had overruled security consciousness in the administration on sanctioning China for proliferation and punishing American companies for breaches of security regulations. See Lampton: Same Bed, Different Dreams. P. 84, 86. Also more detailed in Suettinger: Beyond Tiananmen. P. 377-380.

[44] Concomitant rhetoric from Clinton about enlarging democracy and “humanitarian intervention” feared the Chinese leaders that the same principles could be applied to Taiwan, Tibet, or Xingjian. For details see Suettinger: Beyond Tiananmen. P. 369-377.

[45] The process had begun thirteen years before during the Reagan presidency and commanded the most sustained attention of any initiative in the Clinton administration.

[46] See Suettinger: Beyond Tiananmen. P. 392-398.

[47] The president faced the stiffest opposition from members of his own party and traditionally Democratic constituencies, such as the labour unions and environmentalist, whose anxiety about the whole concept of WTO, not to mention China’s accession, produced demonstrations and riots in Seattle and Washington. See David E. Sanger: President Views Success of China Trade Bill as his Foreign Policy Legacy. In: New York Times. May 22, 2000.

[48] Secretary of Defense William Cohen, questioned by Nayan Chanda in Far Eastern Economic Review. March 11, 2000.

[49] Active presidential involvement is, or leadership by a strong secretary of state, is necessary to preserve a coherent policy in the face of bureaucratic inertia and diverse interest group diversity which tend to erode various parts of the policy. See Michael Oksenberg: The Dynamics of the Sino-American Relationship. In: Richard Solomon (ed.): The China Factor. Englewood Cliffs, 1981. P. 65.

[50] See Bates Gill: Limited Engagement. In: Foreign Affaires, July-August 1999. P. 72-75.

[51] It is characterized by: 1.) a much greater range of agencies within the executive branch involved in foreign policy, with the rise of economic agencies (Commerce, Treasury, and U.S. Trade Representative {USTR}) of particular importance. 2.) a seeming reallocation of power within government, away from the executive branch and toward the Congress. 3.) a much greater participation of nongovernmental organizations and lobby groups that attempt to shape foreign policy to conform with their interests. 4.) much less consensus within Congress, as well as within the broader public, over foreign policy. See Harry Hardling: Public Engagement in American Foreign Policy. (Paper presented at the American Assembly, Columbia University, February 23-25, 1995). P. 8-9.

[52] Congressional members of the presidential party often feel pressure to support the president’s policy when it comes partisan attack by opponents.

[53] This assessment is based on the findings in Robert Sutter: U.S. Policy Toward China. An Introduction to the role of Interest Groups. Lanham, 1998.

[54] See coverage of this Issue in Jim Mann: About Face. A History of America’s Curious Relationship with China, from Nixon to Clinton. New York, 1999.

[55] See also Ross: After the Cold War. P. 40-48, 57-60.

[56] To find more about AI go on its web site. See introduction.

[57] See Suettinger: Beyond Tiananmen. P. 394.


[59] The Christian Coalition was founded in 1989. By 1993-1994, the “Christian Coalition” had become a visible and controversial presence on the American political scene. Putting enormous emphasis on grassroots activism, “voters guides”, and candidate questionnaires, the coalition specialized in helping to elect the “right” candidates- those who shared the groups values and ideology. This focus on electing conservative candidates to office, in fact, would seem to be the coalition’s biggest influence in and contribution to the U.S. policy arena. For more information about the structure and aims of the Coalition, visit their web site. See

[60] The Family Research Council (FRC) was part of the Focus on the Family from 1988-1992, until the two groups parted company in October 1992. The FRC since 1992 has become a more formidable presence on the political scene. While capitalizing on the same kinds of domestic “values” issues as the coalition, the FRC also seems to have had more direct involvement in foreign policy matters, including those involving China. See homepage for more information.

[61] China had been a particular target of these efforts since 1984, when the Reagan administration, at the second U.N. International Conference on Population in Mexico City, established the requirement that the U.N. Population Fund (UNFPA) must provide concrete assurance that it is not engaged in, or does not provide funding for, abortion or coercive family planning programs. See Myers, Oksenberg, Shambaugh: Making China Policy. P. 129.

[62] At a press conference in August 1997, the Christian Coalition announced that combating international religious persecution would be the coalition’s top legislative priority, and he suggested that the coalition would try to influence foreign policy- especially, try to revoke China’s MFN status – in its efforts to pursue this goal.

[63] Conservative Christian groups also joined the debate over renewing China’s MFN status in 1997. As a result, the debate became heavily laden with “values” arguments. Tangible evidence of this involvement came in form of a letter made available during the most favoured nation (MFN) renewal debate in 1997, which specifically linked religious persecution of Chinese Christians with renewal of China’s MFN status. The letter, signed by key leaders of conservative Christian organizations, including the Christian Coalition and the Family Research Council, clarified the differences of opinion these groups had with Christian missionary groups in China. See Myers, Oksenberg, Shambaugh: Making China Policy. P. 130-131.

[64] Many of the NGOs discussed elsewhere are advocacy groups, seeking to influence congressional decision making on China on a specific and fairly narrow issue or on behalf of a deeply held conviction or a category of people.

[65] The National Committee is a foundation of scholars and leading personalities in business, civic, and religious communities. It came into being in 1966 and it was one of a few of its kind, which provided the human and written resources on China at those times. The National Committee also sponsored American delegation visits to China and Chinese delegation visits to the United States even before normalisation. See National Committee materials: For a short introduction see also See Myers, Oksenberg, Shambaugh: Making China Policy. P. 163-164.

[66] The U.S.-China Policy Foundation was established I 1995 and to its own account to counteract what its founders saw as a series of misunderstandings and other deteriorating factors in U.S.-China relations in mid 1990s. The National Committee’s does not focus on a single issue; rather the Committee’s influence is broader and pervasive in the overall policy process. See materials: A short introduction can be found also in See Myers, Oksenberg, Shambaugh: Making China Policy. P. 169-170.

[67] According to some, an additional benefit of the “track2” dialogue is that unofficial groups can raise issues in China without first having to explain their mission or its purpose to Congress. John Pomfret: U.S. seeks China-Taiwan Dialogue. Delegation Attempts to Facilitate Back Channel of Communication. Washington Post, February 21, 1998.

[68] See Myers, Oksenberg, Shambaugh: Making China Policy. P. 135.

[69] See Sutter: U.S. Policy Toward China. P. 99-149.

[70] See Sutter: U.S. Policy Toward China. P. 56-60.

[71] See Sutter: U.S. Policy Toward China. P. 72.

[72] They include agribusiness interests and farmers: importers of toys, clothing and textiles, electronic products, shoes, and other consumer goods manufactured in China: high-tech, telecommunication, energy, and manufacturing industries concerned with increasing exports: the entertainment industry: and the financial and services sectors, among others.

[73] See the introduction on the council’s web site:

[74] Council President Robert Kapp has testified in support of China’s trade status before congressional committees in several times. See the text of Kapp’s testimony on the council’s web site:

[75] See Myers, Oksenberg, Shambaugh: Making China Policy. P. 138.

[76] The seven are the Association of American Publishers, the Interactive Digital Software Association, The American Filmmakers Association, The Motion Picture Association of America, the Business Software Alliance, the National Music Publishers Association, and the Recording Industry Association of America. Together, these seven associations represent hundreds of corporate members involved in various sectors of the entertainment, publishing, and software industries. See Myers, Oksenberg, Shambaugh: Making China Policy. P. 147.

[77] For detailed information look into the web site about IIPA:

Its web site also contains the texts of its recommendations on these cases for China. See

[78] See Suettinger: Beyond Tiananmen: P. 212-215. Also Lampton: Same Bed, Different Dreams. P. 46-55.

[79] The 1999 National Authorization Bill called on the Department of Defense to study “the architecture requirements” for a regional TMD that could include ”key regional allies” (i.e. Taiwan). See Lampton: Same Bed, Different Dreams. P. 241. See more about the contents in:

[80] The bill authorized (not required) the administration to sell Taiwan almost every military item Taipei had on its most extravagant wish list and required the administration to report to Congress on all the aspects of the Taiwan weapons sales relationship on a regular basis and develop a plan “for the enhancement of programs and arrangements for operational training and exchanges of personnel between the armed forces of the United States and Taiwan. See Lampton: Same Bed, Different Dreams. P. 333. See the contents of the bill in:

[81] See Lampton: Same Bed, Different Dreams. P. 358.

[82] Americans haven’t forgotten the hopes that were aroused for Chinese democracy, the admiration the experienced for the young man blocking the line of tanks, and the anger they felt by the brutality of the Chinese troops and police rounding up protesters. They remain offended that the Chinese government has never provided a full and honest account of what actually happened. The U.S. government can not justify a “strategic partnership” or any other kind of forbearing approach to China if it requires Americans to ignore this issue.

[83] Quotes from speech by then-governor George W. Bush: A Distinctly American Internationalism. Delivered at the Ronald Reagan Library, November 19, 1999. See

[84] From the “National Security Strategy of the United States”. White House September 17, 2002. See White House materials.

44 of 44 pages


The Making of American Foreign Policy Towards China 1989-2000
University of Bonn
Amerikanische Außenpolitik vom Golfkrieg bis zum Konflikt in Afghanistan
Catalog Number
ISBN (eBook)
ISBN (Book)
File size
649 KB
Making, American, Foreign, Policy, Towards, China, Amerikanische, Außenpolitik, Golfkrieg, Konflikt, Afghanistan
Quote paper
Pouyan Vahabi-Shekarloo (Author), 2004, The Making of American Foreign Policy Towards China 1989-2000, Munich, GRIN Verlag,


  • No comments yet.
Read the ebook
Title: The Making of American Foreign Policy Towards China 1989-2000

Upload papers

Your term paper / thesis:

- Publication as eBook and book
- High royalties for the sales
- Completely free - with ISBN
- It only takes five minutes
- Every paper finds readers

Publish now - it's free