Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Week 1 Reading Responses

First, thanks to everyone who was able to make the first meeting of the class last night. The discussion was great and we're looking forward to next week.

For this week's reading response, write at least one paragraph in response to at least one of the following articles. You may choose to synthesize the pieces and write a response to multiple pieces. And feel free to reference points that came up in class and content from Secretary Clinton's speech.

Here are some questions to get you started:
- In 1997, the Economist asked whether China was a friend or foe to the U.S. Almost a decade and a half later, are we still asking that question?
- What were the concerns surrounding the U.S.-China relationship 5 years ago, 10 years ago? Are they the same today, or have they changed?
- How does President Hu's portrayal of the bilateral relationship compare to Secretary Clinton's?
- How does the actual bilateral relationship compare to the portrayal of the relationship by officials on either side of the relationship?

"Friend or Foe?" (Economist) October 23, 1997.

Kessler, Glenn. "U.S., China Stand Together but Are Not Equal," (Washington Post) April 21 2006.


  1. I think it is very interesting to see how Secretary Clinton and Hu speak about controversial issues in the relation of US-China in such a different manner. While Clinton pointed out all the parts that US-China have disagreement on precisely, Hu was speaking in a very moderate and diplomatic way without committing to any reformation in the system. Looking back at the question "Friend or Foe" from 1997, I would say the tension between US and China still exist here, and at the same time, it is hard for both countries to really reveal the conflict, because in many ways these two are inevitably dependent on each other.

    Still, from what I understand about the government in China, the priority should not be to get involved into any sensitive issues but keep the country armed and protected in both economic and military. There are so many domestic problems in China right now, and even if the dictatorship of CCP is not really putting much attention on people's life here, to raise a war or any real action towards Iran or North Korea might trigger some conflicts inside the government and also might affect the authority of Hu and his clique, because we never know the connection between Communist party here in China and in North Korea.

  2. One book that might be good for understanding the foundation of Chinese government is "1587: A Year of No Significance". It is the history of Ming dynasty, but as far as I am concerned, there is still not much change because the government is not just ruled by one person, but by a solid political group.

  3. This comment has been removed by the author.

  4. Attached the link of that book:

  5. The shift in the U.S.’s treatment of China between 1997 and today emerges from these articles. In 1997, before President’s Jiang Zemin’s visit to the U.S., numerous bills appeared in congress aimed against the Chinese, such as trade sanctions (“Friend or Foe?”). While the article proposes that President Clinton should support a geopolitical strategy with China, it simultaneously portrays the anti-Chinese fervor of activists who are unhappy with China for a variety of reasons including persecution of Christians, surplus of trade, and treatment of Tibet. Today, these same complaints exist, but it would be unlikely for the U.S. Congress to consider trade sanctions against China in the current situation. Instead, the U.S., while disagreeing with some of China’s policies, recognizes the necessity to work with China as it emerges as a world superpower. One manifestation of this view occurred during President Hu Jintao’s visit with President Bush in 2006 when Bush refused to host a state dinner for Hu and thus revealed his hesitation to treat Hu with complete equality ("U.S., China Stand Together but Are Not Equal”). The shift in how the U.S. regards China is critical for not only U.S. foreign policy but also the security of the world. While the U.S. slips into decline, China is emerging as a global leader, and if the U.S. were to argue with China over a petty issue, the result could be disastrous. The U.S. must carefully balance the need to ally with China and our dislike of some Chinese policiies. Hilary Clinton’s speech presents it perfectly: “This is not a relationship that fits neatly into the black and white categories.... We are two complex nations with very different histories, with profoundly different political systems and outlooks. But there is a lot about our people that reminds us of each other…. We are both deeply invested in the current order and we both have much more to gain from cooperation than from conflict.” Hopefully, China and the U.S. can work cooperatively together for years to come.

  6. I wrote a relevant article called "The Rise of Innovation Hawks" after President Obama's State of the Union this year which reflected on the rise of China and the significance for U.S. politics. I thought it might be useful to throw parts of that into the mix here:

    Last night, President Obama crystallized a new moment in U.S. political and economic history. The president is declaring it the “new Sputnik moment,” but whatever the label, it represents a major development in U.S. politics.

    The catalyzing force behind this trend is the rise of China and the aftermath of the Great Recession, which is quickly producing new political fault lines. Just as the rise of the Soviet Union caused a fundamental political realignment in the United States, so the rapid rise of China is causing another today.

    This realignment is just beginning, but one of the clearest implications is the rise of a new national economic strategy based on “innovation economics.” Instead of emphasizing spending cuts, even in the face of the Tea Party and new Republican House, Obama strongly promoted an active, innovation-centric federal strategy at the front and center of his agenda – a first for any modern president.

    The key to American leadership in the face of China, Obama argued, is to make large-scale federal investments in the three pillars of economic competitiveness: innovation, education, and infrastructure. “We need to out-innovate, out-educate, and out-build the rest of the world,” he declared. “That’s how we’ll win the future.”

    By embracing an investment-centric strategy, Obama adopted a growing expert consensus: modern economic growth primarily emerges from technological innovation, and the federal government plays a central role in innovation. The information technology revolution was grounded in federal investments in microchips and the Internet – especially by the Department of Defense – and so were major growth sectors like aviation, biotech, and others.


    The rise and fall of the Soviet Union, the twilight of American unipolarity, the foreign terrorist threat – each of these foreign policy events caused realignment in the U.S. polity. But Fukuyama and Krauthammer were wrong: history didn’t end, and unipolarity only lasted a brief moment, if it ever existed at all. Today, in the aftermath of the Great Recession, we are witnessing another realignment with the rise of the next great power – one which may have far greater implications than Sputnik.

    Obama believes that with the rise of China, America’s future belongs to leaders who can convince the public of a strategy for national greatness... If he’s correct, and if China produces the same type of public investment imperative as the Soviet Union once did, then the current Tea Party and Republican resurgence is doomed. Either the party itself will collapse under its own weight, or more hopefully, a new brand of “innovation conservatives” will rise within the party and take over the reins....

    If he’s wrong, and the current political polarization and anti-government sentiment reflects a deeper trend, then the United States is most likely destined for slow but steady decline. This would imply an inability to confront the grand challenges of the century, including global energy transformation and continued role as the underwriter of international security, among others.

    Either way, the rise of China is transforming the U.S. political landscape as we know it. The fault lines are still emerging, but Obama’s second State of the Union was one of the first major attempts to draw a clear battle line in the sand. Those committed to America’s global leadership have little choice but to get behind the president and fight for the next innovation agenda. As Obama put it, “Our destiny remains our choice.”

  7. I must say, I'm a little curious how our relationship with China has changed over the last 15 years. Clearly there were and are periods of time where cooperation is either more or less necessary, but it seems like our main concerns have not changed much since 1997 when the economist article was written. To me, it seems the US is out to play world police. Meanwhile, China takes an "only if it affects us" stance, and does predominantly what is in the interest of itself. Things like heeding international copyright law would not help China domestically, and so they choose to mostly ignore it. Because China benefits from trade with Iran, the trade continues. It seems to me we need to stop trying to convince them that they should do what is in the worlds interest because they are a power, but rather that what is in the worlds interest well most positively affect them domestically as well. This may or may not even be possible. Because every country sees China as a rising power, no one wants to play dirty or impose an embargo and so China has some freedom in what they choose to do. It seems to me like we need to completely rethink our strategy, as it seems to have accomplished almost nothing when aggregated over the last 15 years.

  8. In the Economist article "Friend or Foe," there is a stark division between 'experts' and 'activists.' The experts are described as those who advocate free trade and engagement with China. The activists are those who focus mainly on negative portrayals of China in order to create public fervor. The article was written in 1997 but there is still evidence of these two camps even today. The difference between the two time periods is that China has definitely 'grown up' over the past 15 years. While there are still human rights, intellectual property, and transparency concerns, China has become more a responsible player economically and politically. However, this development has only perpetuated negative activist views towards China. It seems like the criticism today is now based on fear of China's growing power rather than on China's obvious faults in 1997. If public opinion continues to let fear replace recognition of improvement, it is unlikely China will continue to conform to international standards.