“The U.S.-China power transition is approaching a critical juncture. The rapid improvement of China’s relative economic influence and naval capabilities in East Asia has challenged the East Asian security order and long-standing U.S. regional security interests. And as the gap in U.S.-China maritime capabilities continues to narrow, the challenge of maintaining regional stability and great power peace will grow. In these rapidly changing strategic circumstances, the demand for moderate and judicious U.S.-Chinese leadership is especially acute.” From Turbulent Waters: (Mis)Managing the Rise of China by Robert S. Ross, professor of Political Science, Boston College. Written for the Carter Center’s symposium to commemorate President Carter’s 1979 decision to normalize relations with China. View or download the paper...Read More
Category: U.S – China Relations
“Post-World War II Asia experienced a transformation of the strategic environment, defined by two changes. For the first time, human beings learned how to grow emerging economies from 7-10 percent annually, a marked change from the industrial revolution’s then-novel 2 percent that fueled creation of the British empire, and from the 3-4 percent that undergirded the emergence of Meiji Japan and of U.S. global dominance. Second, military technology became so destructive that pursuing national greatness in the old way, by seizing neighbors’ territory, usually became at best a path to Pyrrhic victory. This increase in the destructiveness of military technology was not confined to nuclear weapons; conventional air power, sea power, infantry firepower, and even improvised explosive devices are vastly more destructive than in earlier eras. These changes empowered countries whose national strategies deemphasized the traditional way of becoming an important power, namely using the military to seize large amounts of territory from neighbors, and empowered countries whose national strategies gave priority to economic competition. This shift did not mean that the military ever became unimportant; successful defense remained vital. But countries like North Korea and the Soviet Union, which gave overwhelming priority to the military, lost to countries like the U.S., Japan, South Korea, Indonesia and China, which gave priority to building their economies and assigned the military the role of protecting an economics-priority national strategy.” From China and America:...Read More
“There cannot be order in the world without an orderly and minimally productive U.S.-China relationship. Neither country will be able to realize its potential if the other’s opposition impedes progress. The four decades of increasingly comprehensive engagement (1978-2018) brought both countries enormous benefits. Those who contributed need not apologize for the balance sheet from those four decades of policy. Indeed, there is much to celebrate in both nations. All this notwithstanding, there are big problems that both must address. In America, it is wrong to attribute today’s challenges to the presumed naiveté of those wrongly alleged to have argued that China would become “just like us,” or democratic. For most of those involved in the growing relationship, peace and rising welfare in both societies, along with more humane governance in the PRC, were admirable and fully supportable gains. In China, it is wrong for some to say that the last four decades of engagement were just the velvet glove hiding the iron fist of an underlying U.S. containment policy.” From U.S.-China Relations: Revisionist History by David M. Lampton, Oksenberg–Rohlen Fellow at Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies, Stanford University; Hyman Professor, Director of SAIS-China and China Studies at the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies; and Chairman of the Asia Foundation. Written for the Carter Center’s symposium to commemorate President Carter’s 1979 decision to normalize relations with China. View or download...Read More
“In the phrase of Council on Foreign Relations scholar Elizabeth Economy, “China is an illiberal state seeking leadership in a liberal world order.” This is an unpleasant fact for analysts and policy makers who believed for years that China’s general trajectory under “reform and opening” was towards a less statist economy and a more liberal state whose values and interests were increasingly consistent with those of the global economic system. The central question today therefore is whether, as it gains global influence, China will be generally supportive of the existing global economic system, cause that system to change in significant ways, or result in a dissolution of the present order and its replacement by something else. The answer to this question depends to a great degree on the time frame one uses to describe China’s trajectory. Here we will consider three: the 40 years since the launch of Reform and Opening in 1978, the two decades since the Asian financial crisis of 1997-98, and the decade since the American financial crisis of 2008.” From China’s Economic Transformation: A Threat to the Liberal Global Order? by Arthur R. Kroeber, nonresident Senior Fellow, Brookings-Tsinghua Center and adjunct professor at Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs. Written for the Carter Center’s symposium to commemorate President Carter’s 1979 decision to normalize relations with China. View or download the paper...Read More
The Role of American NGOs and Civil Society Actors in an Evolving U.S.-China Relationship by Elizabeth Knup
“When we think about the US-China bilateral relationship we often think about economics, trade, politics and strategic security. Less prominent in our discussion is the dimension of our relationship uniquely driven by American NGOs and civil society actors. And yet, American NGOs and civil society actors were instrumental in preparing the groundwork in the United States for the normalization of US-China relations in 1979. Their nimble, innovative, and independent nature meant that after 1979 they could move quickly to lead early and direct engagement with China and could respond to challenges and opportunities with agility. Their diversity created a rich network of organizations and individuals that expanded as China developed. That network of non-governmental actors facilitated communication, knowledge generation, and trust-building between the United States and China at all levels of society, from Track 2 dialogues to grassroots people-to-people exchanges (including then-Vice President Xi Jinping’s visit to Iowa where he met average citizens and built relationships that are now manifest in formal US-China relations), often keeping channels of communication open when formal channels were constrained. The nature of NGOs – independent from government and commercial imperatives, flexible in the face of change or opportunity – gives these organizations unique agency in framing and shaping the contours of the Sino-US relationship.” From The Role of American NGOs and Civil Society Actors in an Evolving U.S.-China Relationship by Elizabeth Knup, Ford Foundation. Written...Read More
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SR: The Week’s China Reads
Every week, China Program’s Senior Advisor Dr. Robert A. Kapp compiles a reading list and provides commentary, for you to better understand China.
Robert A. Kapp is senior advisor to the China Program at the Carter Center. He has been principal of Robert A. Kapp and Associates, a business consulting firm, since 2004. From 1994 through 2004 he served as President of the United States-China Business Council…