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American grievances focussed on the huge US trade deficit as a result of the impenetrability of the Chinese market, its intellectual property infringements and deceptive foreign labelling, as well as the PRC’s sales of ballistic missiles to Syria, Pakistan and Iran. President Bill Clinton decided to “delink” the renewal of China’s Most Favoured Nation (MFN) status from human rights, as part of his administration’s mid-term adoption of the “Comprehensive Engagement” policy. These “engagement” accomplishments and concessions towards the PRC, however, remain in the shadow of the 1995-1996 Taiwan Strait crisis, as well as the initial hard-line policy that Clinton campaigned under with regards to confronting China.
Recognising the need for China’s cooperation in combating international terrorism and the nuclear threat in North Korea, the Bush administration rapidly resumed a cooperative tone and frequent visits in order to emphasise the two nations’ common ground.
The resulting China policy over the ensuing seven years followed, as a result, from this sentiment and from prior administrations’ approach.
One year later, he announced his momentous decision to issue an ultimatum for the PRC to change its human rights practise in 12 months or face suspension of its MFN status.
Yet, in 1994, Clinton reversed course, preaching instead a revised policy of “comprehensive engagement,” to the bafflement and suspicion of both American and Chinese onlookers.
The Bush administration complemented its aggressive military tone with various diplomatic affronts, including an invitation to the Dalai Lama. Bush and China, reveals that “apart from being confrontational, Bush’s China policy also appeared contradictory” – for instance, by announcing major shifts in China policy only to retract the statements, on several occasions.
The contradictory nature of President Bush’s foreign policy serves to underscore the naivety of a new administration as yet unfamiliar with the history of the bilateral relationship.As previously mentioned, these advancements accompanied Clinton’s abandonment of the annual renewal of China’s MFN status as a contingency of China’s human rights record, which had been a strong coercive incentive for reform within the PRC. The 1995-1996 Taiwan Strait crisis, which escalated dangerously to a show of arms between the two powers after the U. granted then-Taiwanese President Lee Teng-Hui an entry visa, stands as the most confrontational moment in Sino-Soviet relations since the Cold War. Even more important, however, is the response that the crisis elicited from Clinton’s administration.Although economists and businesses were pleased, the policy infuriated a portion of the U. Notably, the conflict occurred over Taiwan, where U. Although Ross makes clear that Clinton’s bold move to “allow Taiwan’s most senior leader to enter the United States reversed more than twentyfive years of U. diplomatic precedent,” the president’s subsequent actions convey an urgent desire to mend relations, much as President Bush had displayed in the aftermath of the Tiananmen Square protests.The problem arises from the framing of the post-Cold War relationship as one in which the United States could finally pursue a policy guided by the full scope of its national interest. However, beneath much of the rhetoric and public policy debates, U. presidents since the Cold War have rarely acted as suggested by their aggressive policy outlines.In this sense, it tends to see negotiation with China not as part of a pattern of rational strategy implementation, but rather as periodic concessions eroding what would otherwise promote U. Patient and calculated negotiation with the PRC has, in fact, been the norm.By that time, after the discovery of Soviet troops in Cuba and the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, U. – Soviet détente had ended and Washington was ever less sanguine about it reemerging. The issue of human rights was likewise intertwined with strategic objectives, agrees Ming Wan, a Chinese historian: “Human rights in China was rarely mentioned by the government, the media or human rights NGOs in the United States throughout the 1970s and only incrementally in the 1980s…China was a ‘human rights exception’ even when the United States pursued an articulated global human rights policy.” From the perspective of U. foreign policy, the evidence amply supports this characterisation. But since the end of the Cold War, Sino-American relations have operated within a drastically altered international context requiring an equally distinct bilateral relationship.As the Soviet Union came to appear more ominous, China grew more valuable to the United States as a strategic ally. Ross, “that the United States now sought a ‘stable marriage’ so as to better contend with Soviet U. In the pivotal year of 1989, the collapse of communism in Eastern Europe and the brutal suppression of the Tiananmen protests dealt a dual blow to the U. Throughout the Cold War, the Chinese had stood, for America, at the forefront of reform in the communist world – “daring, innovative, and increasingly capitalist.” That it now stood at the turn of the decade as a lingering bastion of communism seen anew as corrupt and backwards in the wake of the Tiananmen massacre led to a profound disillusionment as the public turned away from China.During a tour in China in 1998, Clinton not only coined China a “strategic partner,” but also stated the “Three No’s” to Taiwan: that America would not support Taiwanese independence, two Chinas, or Taiwanese membership in the United Nations.Moreover, it appears that all subsequent Taiwanese presidents have been only been issued visas for layovers as they are passing through the United States on their way to Latin America.As Wang makes clear in her investigative work, one explanation is that the Bush administration contained “no senior-level officials with any significant amount of China experience.” Although it is difficult to tell at what point in the Bush presidency the administration would have softened its tone towards the PRC, the terrorist attacks of September eleventh, 2001 provided a premature impetus for a complete reorientation of China policy.Vice President Cheney, Defense Minister Donald Rumsfeld and their departments believed that a policy..least of active constraint, should be carried out regarding China, which presumed...treating China as a potential strategic adversary.