Chinese and American Foreign Relations Essay

Chinese and American Foreign Relations Essay

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Chinese and American Foreign Relations

China seems very pleased with the outcome of the George W. Bush - Jiang Zemin presidential summit meeting in Shanghai on October 19 along the sidelines of the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Leaders' Meeting.

This was not because a great deal was accomplished, but because of Jiang's extremely modest definition of what constituted a "successful" meeting. All Beijing apparently sought was a photo opportunity and a new slogan. Success was achieved on both accounts, with the Chinese press touting the willingness by both sides to seek a new ``constructive relationship of cooperation.''

This is not insignificant. Both Washington and Beijing were eager to show that relations were on a positive trajectory after the rocky start brought about by the April 1 collision between a Chinese fighter and American reconnaissance plane and a variety of other contentious issues, including continuing American arms sales to Taiwan. The mere fact that President Bush took time out from commanding his war on terrorism to travel to China was seen as an important signal, even if accumulating international support for his anti-terrorism campaign remained a key Bush agenda item during the abbreviated visit.

And, slogans are important to China. The operative slogan prior to the APEC visit was candidate Bush's ``strategic competitor'' label; a phrase generally avoided by administration spokesmen after January 20th, but still featured prominently in the press when describing Sino-U.S. relations. As long as Bush was willing to state in Shanghai that he sought a ``constructive, and cooperative'' relationship with China _ which he did (although he added the word ``candid'') _ Beijing was prepared to decl...

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... Bush had a caveat of his own: ``The war on terrorism,'' Bush asserted in Shanghai, ``must never be an excuse to persecute minorities.'' (This is a message Bush has also delivered at home, aimed at preventing a backlash against America's Muslim community.)

Secretary of State Colin Powell (nicely echoing a sentiment expressed previously in this column) noted in Shanghai that, as far as U.S.-Russian relations were concerned, ``not only is the Cold War over, the post-Cold War period is also over.'' Meanwhile, Sino-U.S. relations still seem largely mired in what the Chinese have described in another context as a ``Cold War mentality,'' with both sides apparently willing to settle for considerably less. As Presidents Bush and Putin start working toward the establishment of a post post-Cold War new world order, Beijing increasingly runs the risk of being left behind.

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