Confronting the Influence of China’s ‘Friends’

At Long Last, a U.S. Policy Shift toward China

Taiwan News
Date: 2018/12/11
By: William A. Stanton (Professor, National Taiwan University),Taiwan News

Former US Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, left, meets Xi Jinping at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing on December 2, 2016. (AP)

After more than 40 years, U.S. policy toward China has changed, finally recognizing China as it is, rather than the China we wish it were. A strong and still growing consensus has emerged among U.S. officials, the U.S. Congress, and American elite, media, and public opinion, and even many business people, that the U.S. relationship with China is unbalanced and does not serve U.S. interests.

Although some China experts have been saying this for many years, the public acknowledgment of how badly U.S. policy toward China has failed was perhaps most notably announced in the March/April issue of Foreign Affairs in the essay “The China Reckoning: How Beijing Defied American Expectations” by former U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Kurt Campbell:

“Nearly half a century since Nixon’s first steps toward rapprochement, the record is increasingly clear that Washington … put too much faith in its power to shape China’s trajectory…. All sides of the policy debate erred ….the liberal international order has failed to lure or bind China as powerfully as expected.”

Predictably, some stalwart U.S. defenders of the status quo have sharply objected. Nonetheless, the surprise is not that U.S. policy toward China is finally changing. The wonder is that it took so long.

After all, U.S. policies toward the PRC have repeatedly proven to be wrong, and consistently failed to promote U.S. interests and goals. The original geostrategic justification for U.S. relations with China as a counter to the Soviet Union was simplistic and short-sighted, and died with the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989 and the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991. The concrete benefits of supposed US-PRC cooperation on key issues have been few to none, whether the issues have been ending the Vietnam War sooner, non-proliferation (Pakistan, Iran, or North Korea), UN Security Council votes, the South China Sea, or human rights.    [FULL  STORY]