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Scholar on Recent Sino-US Relations

Sino-US relations have undergone great changes since US President George W. Bush assumed office. Clashes between the two countries over NMD, the air collision, arms sales to Taiwan, Lee Teng-hui's visit to US and the stopover in New York of Chen Shui-bian happened one after another. How to evaluate the current situation, and where are China-US relations going? There are many different viewpoints inside and outside China. Recently, Professor Wang Jisi, a well-known scholar on Sino-US relations and director of the Institute of American Studies of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, spelt out his opinions in an exclusive interview by China.org.cn.

Professor Wang argued that Sino-US relations are experiencing a hard time. He said that Sino-US ties are moving towards a negative tendency after the mid-air collision on April 1, citing such facts as the proposed arms sales to Taiwan, the US side allowing Chen Shui-bian of Taiwan to make transit visits to the United States, some officials changing the view of a "constructive strategic partnership" in Sino-US relations into an "adversary relationship" and the recent US policy report claiming a southward shift of focus in US military deployment in East Asia.

In Wang's opinion, the US should bear major responsibility for the standoff. Leading officials of the Bush administration, including Vice-President Richard Cheney, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld are hawkish towards China. National Security Advisor Condoleeza Rice intends to handle policy on China as they did towards the former Soviet Union. Actually, few high officials of the White House understand China well.

Given the permeating pessimism among the Chinese public about the relations, Wang said, “It is still too early to come to the conclusion that the Sino-US is rapidly deteriorating.”

According to Wang, first, diplomatic channels between the two countries are accessible normally. The dispute over the military plane collision has been solved in a diplomatic way instead of by saber rattling. Both sides have shown great restraint on this issue. What is worth mentioning is that President Bush did not change his plan to visit China during the APEC SOM to be held in Shanghai in October.

Secondly, trade relations between the two countries have not suffered severely from the political troubles. Trade relations have been the motive force of keeping normal political relations for more than 10 years, and have provided a cushion to deal with collisions between the two countries.

Looking back to history, Wang mentioned three crisis in the Sino-US ties after the cold war ended--the Tiananmen Incident in 1989, Lee Teng-hui's visit to US in 1995 and NATO's bombing of Chinese Embassy in Yugoslavia in 1999. But he said that the three crises were all overcome in the end.

According to Wang’s interpretation, the background of the US hawkish policy towards China is that, as the sole superpower in the world after the cold war, the US has not met any challenges from other countries. Sustained economic growth and military strengthening with hi-tech have led the Bush administration to overestimate itself.

Professor Wang observed that the US policy toward China is leading to an adversary relationship while China's policy toward US is keeping stable.

(China.org.cn 05/30/2001)

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