The Study of the Relationship of China and USA, Via Exploring the Development of Global Civil Society in China

Master's Thesis, 2011
53 Pages, Grade: B


Table of Contents

Chapter 1
1.0. Background
1.1 Research Questions
1.2. Justification of Research Questions
1.3 Research Methods
1.4 Structure

2. I Introduction
2.2 The Role of Civil Society
2.3 Civil Society in China
2.4 China- USA Relationship
2.5 The Hong Kong Factor in Sino China Relations

Chapter 3: Methodology
3.1 Introduction
3.2 Research Approach
3.3 Data Collection
3.4 Primary Data
3.5 Questionnaires
3.6 Secondary Data Collection Methods
3.7 Case Study
3.8 Rationale of the Method Used

Chapter 4: Findings
4.1 Introduction
4.2 Global Civil Societies in China
4.3 Case Studies findings
4.4 US-China Relations
4.5 The Role of Hong Kong

Chapter: 5 –DISCUSSION
5.1 Civil societies and China-USA Relationship
5.2 Role of US-Hong Kong relations to civil society in China
5.3 Role of civil societies in the US foreign policy

CHAPTER 6- Conclusion and Recommendations
6.1 Conclusion
6.2 Recommendations


Appendix 1

Appendix 2

Chapter 1

1.0. Background

The United States of America and the China are among the major economic powers in the world. The two countries maintain bilateral relationships in various aspects but there exists passive and active competition in military, political and economic spheres. The history of China and America relations dates back to the cold war period. USA the champion of capitalism treated the Republic of China with suspicion. This suspicion has remained in the political existence of the republic of China-also known as Taiwan.

The end of cold war reduced the suspicion although China retained its communist policy with only slight policy changes that suits its interests. There exists cooperation between the two nations in various social economic spheres. China is the major creditor to the United States to date (Dolan, 2011). The two countries are the leading individual nation trading partners in the world (Dolan, 2011). China and USA have great interests in information technology, Electrical, automobile and military science.

There are common interests that have held China-US relation cordial at the face of economic competition. The two nations have same stands against world terrorism. The US is more active in the anti terrorism campaign but China inactivity never means its support for terrorism. This fight has raised human rights abuse claims towards US. The human rights issues are factors that affect Sino-American relationships due to the ‘we are all guilty’ effect. Global civil society has focused attention to nuclear weapons manufacture (Ware, 2010). On this issue, China and USA have taken similar stand against their proliferation. This has eased any military tensions that could have existed.

The Global civil society has intensified campaign against global warming evidence reference. This has indirectly improved the China- US relationship. The two countries are the major emitters of green house gases and therefore the major target for this campaign. This has brought the two countries together as they forge a common front in the issue.

Human rights and civil society freedom have remained a contentious issue among the two nations. The US finds the human rights level in China deficient. China defends its record on honouring the international human rights standards while accusing USA of perpetrating human rights abuse in different parts of the world. The US state department has removed China from the list of states with human rights abuses but insists that China should be committed to the freedom of speech. There are many American leaning (pro-American) civil rights groups which question the China’s human rights record. Amnesty international and human rights watch are among the civil society that have raised issues on freedom of speech in china, the rights to information, freedom of association and movement. The civil society claims that the Chinese government should guarantee these rights to its citizens (Human Rights Watch, 2011). This issue affects communication between the two countries.

There are sensitive global politics that are tied to the human right issue. This is more pronounced between US and China the only remaining communism leaned economic power. This paper analyses Sino-American relationship focusing on the effects of global civil societies activities to communication between the two countries. The role of Hong Kong in improving communication between China and US is explored to offer insights on the effects of the civil society.

1.1 Research Questions

This research is based on the increased activity of global civil societies in China. It is a fact that majority of global civil society are American based evidence. The involvement of the global civil societies on the social economic issues in China is a fairly new development worth analysis. To achieve the objectives of this study, the following questions will develop and guide this research:

1) In the recent past, there has been an increase of global civil society in China. Majority of these societies are from USA. Will this development contribute to communication between USA and China?
2) The United States has a stronger relationship with Hong Kong than Beijing, as a matter of fact; Hong Kong has close ties to Beijing. What is the role of Hong Kong in the USA –China relationship?
3) There have been claims of human rights violations in China. In the past, the civil societies operating there have had conflicts with the government. What is the future of global civil societies in China?
4) Civil societies have been known to champion the human rights course in all parts of the world. Many civil societies have roots in America since the USA government has been supportive. What are the roles of civil societies in influencing the US foreign policy?

The above questions assume that the activities of civil societies in China will continue. This will involve improvement of the human rights level to international standards. The claims that the people’s republic of China government curtails freedom of speech, movement and association will either be verified or highlighted by the civil societies. These human rights levels are questioned by the US state department and the civil society and therefore solutions to the questions will reveal a lot on the relationship between the two countries.

1.2. Justification of Research Questions

Research Question 1: To establish the role of global civil societies operating in china in Sino American relations, it is important to comprehensively evaluate the effects of the civil societies in China’s social-political sphere. Majority of the civil societies are from USA. This is an additional factor since the USA has severally accused China of insensitivity to the human rights issue. The US state department has openly called for freedom of speech and rights to information in China. This has negatively affected the relationships between the two countries. The solution to this question will reveal the direct effects to the relationship.

Research Question 2: The relationship between US and Hon Kong has been cordial dating back to the cold war era. Hon Kong has always been a go between for US to reach mainland China and Beijing in particular. Hong Kong is more receptive to the global civil societies. It is important to analyze the possibilities of Hon Kong acting as a mediator to the China government to accept the roles of civil societies, the possible avenues for Hong Kong to explore. This also involves the possibilities of acceptance from the China government. A solution to this question will reveal the possibilities of Hong Kong facilitating a means of communication between USA and China that will affect their relationship

Research Question 3: The future of global civil societies operating in China is uncertain going by the claims that China is insensitive to human rights and other freedoms that the civil societies groups advocate for. This is a threat to the improved communication between China and USA. It is necessary to analyze the future trends in the civil societies activities and their reception in order to establish whether the direction that the China-USA relationship will take.

Research Question 4: Global civil societies offer insights into all aspects of governance and social life in their host countries. This is done through reports and press releases. The civil societies reports are valued and have often caused conflicts between the societies and authorities. This research explores the role of civil societies in China and the effects of this to Sino-American relationship, it is therefore important to critically assess the actual roles of civil societies in the world with special focus to China, an analysis of their reports and their reception by the China and US government. In answering this question, the researcher will gain insights on the extents that the US foreign policy towards China depends on these reports. This policy is the has the terms of engagement that the US departments and some companies refer to while dealing with China and therefore the major determinant o the Sino American relationship.

1.3 Research Methods

In efforts to achieve the objectives of this research the researcher will need to establish the groups that qualify for the term global civil society. This will require a comprehensive definition of the word civil society and the standards that the civil society must meet to be termed as global. The researcher will achieve this by studying the information in the US state department and registrar of societies’ website to establish what the US government terms as a civil society. The researcher will also analyze the English version of the Chinese government’s website, department of culture and societies in order to get an impartial definition of civil societies and the type of organizations that fall under this name. In addition to the internet sources the researcher will analyze different standards that are used to term an organization as national, regional or global. This will involve scrutiny of the society’s registrar’s guidelines and policy papers from different continents in the world. Accredited academic sources that address the issue of global civil societies will be used. Preference will be given to papers written in the last five years that focus on more than one global civil society.

Scholarly papers presented to various universities, research organization, government departments and the United Nations will be analyzed to offer insights into the relationship that exist between China and USA. To ensure objectivity, the researcher will study papers on how China views the US and how the United States views China. To fuse this, the researcher will explore the existing statistics from the World Trade Organization, UN and credible media houses that reveal the relationship between the two countries.

The common trend among civil societies is to release human rights report either annually, quarterly or after a major activity like war or displacements. To ascertain the actual contribution of the global; civil societies to the China US relationship, the researcher will study the recent human rights report from Human Rights watch, and Amnesty International among other civil societies operating in China. In order to get the effects of these reports on the communication between China and US, the researcher will study the available press releases or counter arguments that are available from the China government in response to the reports. Credible Media reports on the position of the China government on the report will be analyzed. The responses of the US government to the reports will studied in the State departments websites to establish whether the US supports or disputes the contents of this reports.

The sensitive relationship between China and USA dates back to the cold war period although the sudden rise of China as an economic power has increased the sensitivity. To understand the historical issues that affect this relationship and the place of civil society, the researcher will rely on book sources that offer detailed credible accounts of the cold war Sino-American relations and post cold war relationships. Books and Journals on the roles of civil societies and the possible effects on the incumbent authorities will also be analyzed. This will give the researcher a background of the issues that concern the civil society in China. The Sino- America relationship is has elements of intrinsic global politics. To lay a foundation for this study the researcher will explore the different international political theories that inform political actions. The theories will be gathered from classical and modern writings on politics and the influence of economic competition to the discipline. Credible academic papers on political theories will be analyzed.

Besides secondary sources, the researcher will need to consider the views of civil societies operating in China (Swartz, E. et al. 1998). This will offer primary information on China reception to the societies. Insights into human rights issue in China and the effects to the China –USA relationship. The researcher will e-mail questionnaires to global civil society’s heads operating in China to gather their views on this subject. Semi-structured Skype interviews will be conducted to the society’s heads. The Hong Kong mayor office will also be interviewed to establish its possible role in mediating for civil societies to the China government. The researcher will also carry out Skype interview the officers in the US state department and foreign policy specialists to gather insights on the effects of civil societies groups in China to global communication between the two world economic powers (Saunders, Philip, & Adrian, 2007). From the above studies and interviews the effects of civil societies in China to the relationship between China and USA will be established.

1.4 Structure

Global civil societies have are important watchdogs to authorities in all parts of the world. Their reports on human rights and freedoms are sometimes more credible than that the authorities’ reports. This has placed civil societies at the centre of international political and economic competitions. Their activities, grievances and revelations influence the foreign policies that USA adopts towards a specific country. This research seeks to establish the roles played by global civil societies in China, how the Chinese government has received them and the ultimate effect of the civil societies to the relationship between China and USA. In this endeavour this study focuses on the roles that Hong Kong can play to improve the US China relationships by acting as the civil society’s go-between. To achieve the above, the study has been structured into 6 distinct chapters that depend on each other.

In the chapters that follow a through literature review on the relationship between USA and China is carried out. There is more focus to the human rights issue as a major contention between the two governments. A review on the roles of global civil societies in different countries has carried out to establish their effects on the relationships that exist between the host country and the USA. Chapter 3 explains all the methods used in data collection, assessing their possible limitations while explaining the strengths that qualify each method for this study. A Case study on the activities of Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International is carried out (Human Rights Watch, 2011) focusing on environment, anti-terror cooperation, and human rights. This is the major US global civil societies that operate in China. In Chapter 4 have all the research findings from the different methods that will be used in the study. The chapter offers raw data for the researcher to deduce the solutions to the research questions. This has been achieved in chapter 5 that offers a discussion which relates the research findings. The relevance of the findings in analyzing the role of civil societies to Sino-American relations is established. This chapter offers insights into the possibilities of Hong Kong involvement in improving the civil society’s activities in China. This discussion lays ground for Chapter 6 which concludes the study by offering a comprehensive view of what the civil societies are doing to the Sino-American relationship. There are recommendations on the possible actions that the civil societies can take to improve the relations.

The researcher has provided references that were depended on during literature review, research data discussion and in making conclusions. This includes cases that reveal the practicality of the research recommendations


2. I Introduction

The relationships between states have over the years been characterized by competition and deeply rooted interests. From medieval times, empires viewed each other with suspicion and struggled to conquer each ‘competing’ kingdom to eliminate the suspicion. Conquests were inspired by desires to extend the territories under the rule of a certain kingdom thus advance its interests (Tandon, 1999). From a political perspective, the situation has not changed a lot apart from creation of codes of conduct that regulate this competitions and state interests. Increased globalization has re-defined how nations relate with each other; Modern political and economic institutions cannot function maximally in seclusion. This reality forces states to forge relationships for mutual benefits. The practice of democracy has grown from states to regions and to the whole world (Walzer, Michael, 1995). The universality of democracy has created a link between states that is maintained by setting up measures to ensure there are no weak points in the link. Any weak point is viewed not as an individual state problem but as a challenge to all states. This has given credibility to the saying that Injustice elsewhere is injustice everywhere.

To strengthen the interstate links, countries have formed universal bodies like UN to regulate the relationships. Group psychology paradigms operate in these bodies where non-members are economically ostracized to make their existence outside the bodies almost impossible. Today, almost all countries are in the UN while new states struggle to gain acceptance and recognition in the body. The inter-state bodies have set up codes that guide the practices of governance and social aspects in the world. These codes have become universally accepted as the standards of operation especially between a state and its citizens. In addition to these codes, there are numerous treaties that nations have signed over the years (Tandon, 1999). This treaty lays certain guidelines on the conduct of state. Among the most popular of such treaties is the Kyoto Protocol-An agreement signed by almost all world nations in this Japanese town. This agreement regulates the relationship between the states and the environment. The goal is to reduce green house emissions to the atmosphere.

2.2 The Role of Civil Society

The universal standards on state and society relationship are the anchor for the civil society in modern society. The reality on the ground is that nations prioritize their internal affairs and interests before focusing on the declarations or agreements made in the universal bodies. The civil societies have therefore become the de-facto custodian of the universal standards, especially on human rights and of late environmental conservation. This matrix have seems to have gained acceptance since major civil societies have the ‘blessings’ of major world powers. They have established wide funding networks that even involves the political establishments in some countries. The tragedy is that the civil societies lack the ability to enforce adherence to the standards (Germaine, Randall, Michael and Kenny, 2005), it’s only states that have capacities for economic sanctions or military intervention as recently evidenced in Libya. The unwritten rule now seems that civil societies should call for respect to human rights, investigate abuses and give public reports that will attract the attention of the international community. The media publicity and civil society lobbying then attracts the attention of states. This makes civil societies an influential factor on how states relate. The Sino American relationship is not exceptional. The Tiananmen incident of 1989 when the China government interfered with the activity of civil societies received condemnation from the US Department of State. (Rowe and William, 1993)The 1999 civil society revelation of torture of people suspected to be American Spies under the China government greatly affected the relationship between the two states.

Apart from political/power relations, states are in economic partnerships that promote their competitiveness in the global arena while ensuring maximum benefits. The global market economy favours the most competitive; these forces nations to employ explore all available avenues to gain economic advantage. This avenue includes cooperation with a level partner with ability to compliment what a nation has (Germaine, Randall, Michael and Kenny, 2005); this explains the bilateral relations that exist between China and The United States of America. The two are the world leading trade partners. They have gained competitiveness to rise to the position of the world’s economic powers.

Economic power translates to political/military power. This maxim has informed the present relations between nations. Global politics are played in the economic arena since democracy, civilization, domestic politics and universal protocols are against use of military means to gain advantages (Walzer, Michael, 1995) the study of relationship between China and USA cannot be possible without analyzing the economic platforms that the two countries operate in. These forms the bases of their relationship and any dispute will most likely have economic grounds on the surface even though some global power politics may be involved. The civil societies in China are involved in human rights and environmental conservation advocacy. These two major grievances have great social economic effects on China (Rowe and William, 1993)

The civil society has become a central part of human civilization. The rise of governments based on institutions and the spread of democracy have been characterized by elements of civil authorities that advocate for balance and control of power. Historically civil societies were engaged in a struggle for market economy. The two emerged as important spheres for the control state powers while advocating for civilian autonomy. This autonomy is vital for the practice of democracy (Tandon, 1999). The civil society has evolved to be the modern watch dog that counters the excesses of the government in efforts to promote the welfare of the people. This role gives the civil society undefined powers to influence what a society terms as fair while acting as a link between the people and the state. This is the challenge of civil society in China today. The civil society plays an important role in creating awareness among citizens in their host countries. They run campaigns that make the citizenry aware of their human rights. They have also focused on individual freedoms and how the state or authorities is denying them or jeopardizing their existence. The awareness messages are supported by calls for advocacy among all members especially those subject to denial.

The role of civil society has not augured well with many authorities. Many authorities openly profess their support for the civil society but secretly work to their disadvantage. This involves legislations or interfering with their funding networks. Howell and Pearce (2001) notes that some authorities view civil societies as threats to their countries image. In international fronts image accumulates social capital and economic benefits in terms of tourism and trade. The awareness campaign by the civil society interferes with the internal politics of a state since the information alters citizen’s political preferences. In many countries the civil societies have frequently been accused of working for the opposition or foreign powers. Although such claims cannot be fully discredited, in most instances, the incumbent sees civil society as part of the opposition rather than as organizations out to supplement their efforts in social political and economic development.

It is erroneous to assume that a vibrant and strong civil society can single handed promote democracy with its ideals of human rights and freedoms. The modern power dynamics makes it impossible for the civil society to promote democracy without involving other stronger political and economic power bases. O’Donnell and Schmitter notes that the civil society role. They see it as to emphasize on the illegitimacy of a states actions and legislations. It then becomes the role of power brokers-citizens involved to act and change the system of things. If the civil societies message on illegitimacy of states actions are bought by all interest groups, the state may opt for change but only when its interest are threatened by maintaining the status quo. Civil societies should not be idealist organizations that that never compromise their demands, they should operate within expected standards to attain their goals while sticking to issue related demands that benefits all the citizens.

2.3 Civil Society in China

The Civil societies in China struggle to market their course to the citizens and the world in order to give weights to their claims of state actions illegitimacy. Tandon (1999) observed that the civil society works within a power structure driven by interests that most of the times conflict the civil societies objectives. The increased globalization has given civil societies credibility due to media coverage of human rights abuse claims. This has positioned them as major players in foreign policy framework among Nations. In the Sino American relationship case the civil society is a window to the China society which is relatively closed. This has had effects on the relationship. Saich, (2000) notes that the planned economy setup that China has survived in makes social welfare a responsibility of the government, this leaves no room for civil societies; this was the case with China till 1978.The USA took issue with this setup and encouraged the ruling communist party to introduce open policy and social reforms. There are numerous civil societies that operate in China today. To escape the restrictive registration framework by the Ministry of Civil affairs, many civil societies in form of NGOs register as commercial enterprise under the bureau of Industry and Commerce. Centre for strategic and International Studies (CSIS) highlights that the stringent rules of operation laid by the China government forces many US civil societies operating there to focus on passive advocacy. There are numerous foundations that focus on social welfare of the Chinese people. Rockefeller foundation and The Ford Foundation have been involved in philanthropy work in China, The Human Rights watch, Amnesty International and Transparency International have been actively involved in promoting human rights while calling for more open space for the media. Human rights watch has openly opposed internet censoring. This is an area that the US government has focused on as it strengthens relations with China. The 2010 president Obama’s China focused on this and even formed part of the president’s speech. The US Secretary of State has supported this civil society’s call for uncensored internet and has openly pleaded with the IT sector investors not to support the move.


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The Study of the Relationship of China and USA, Via Exploring the Development of Global Civil Society in China
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Joseph Katie (Author), 2011, The Study of the Relationship of China and USA, Via Exploring the Development of Global Civil Society in China, Munich, GRIN Verlag,


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