Category: U.S – China Relations

China’s Economic Transformation: A Threat to the Liberal Global Order? by Arthur R. Kroeber

“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...

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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...

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A Crisis is a Terrible Thing to Waste by Ryan Hass

“The U.S.-China relationship has now reached what respected China scholar David M. Lampton describes as a “tipping point.i” The basic assumptions and expectations that guided the development of U.S.-China relations over the past 40 years no longer hold and, so far, no consensus has formed in either country about what should replace them. This paper seeks to contribute a perspective on the future trajectory of U.S.-China relations by addressing how the relationship reached its current inflection point, why this moment may differ from previous periods of bilateral friction, and what key questions the United States needs to answer about the type of relationship it seeks with China going forward.” From A Crisis is a Terrible Thing to Waste by Ryan Hass, David M. Rubenstein Fellow, John L. Thornton China Center and the Center for East Asia Policy Studies, Brookings Institution. Written for the Carter Center’s symposium to commemorate President Carter’s 1979 decision to normalize relations with China. View or download the paper...

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The United States and China from Partners to Competitors by Harry Harding

“Although the collapse of the Soviet Union had eliminated the common threat that had brought China and the U.S. together in the 1960s and 1970s, there were other reasons to prevent a return to continued confrontation. For the U.S, the economic growth being generated by China’s policy of reform and opening meant that China would play an increasingly important role in Asia and even globally. For China, positive ties with the United States were essential to the success of that policy, given the importance of American capital and American markets. For both governments, therefore, the Sino-American relationship was too important to fail.” From The United States and China from Partners to Competitors by Harry Harding, professor of Public Policy at University of Virginia; visiting professor of Social Science at the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology. Written for the Carter Center’s symposium to commemorate President Carter’s 1979 decision to normalize relations with China. View or download the paper...

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Sino-American Interactions, Past and Future by Amb. Chas W. Freeman, Jr. (USFS, Ret.)

“December 15, 2018 will mark the fortieth anniversary of Jimmy Carter’s and Deng Xiaoping’s politically courageous agreement to “normalize” the relationship between Washington and Beijing. This resulted in the replacement of China’s demand for revolutionary overthrow of the world order with pragmatic accommodation of it. Two days later, at the 3rd Plenum of the 11th Central Committee of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), Deng launched China on a path of eclectic borrowing of foreign ideas, policies, and practices called “reform and opening” [改革开放]. This liberated the Chinese people – who were then almost a fourth of humanity – from the most suffocating aspects of Soviet Marxist-Leninist dogma and released their formidable entrepreneurial imaginations and energies. The consequences of Deng’s twin decisions for both China and the world have been immense. He saw US-China normalization and “reform and opening” as parts of a single bold gamble with his country’s future. His vision enabled China to risk a search for inspiration in America and other capitalist democracies, to which the Chinese elite promptly entrusted its sons and daughters for education.” From Sino-American Interactions, Past and Future by Amb. Chas W. Freeman, Jr. (USFS, Ret.), Senior Fellow, Watson Institute for International and Public Affairs, Brown University. Written for the Carter Center’s symposium to commemorate President Carter’s 1979 decision to normalize relations with China. View or download the...

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SR: The Week’s China Reads

Robert A. Kapp Bio picture

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…