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2002 - Strategic and Economic Dialogue (S&ED)

Relations gradually improved and President George W. Bush visited China in February 2002 and met with President Jiang Zemin in Crawford, Texas in October. President Bush hosted Premier Wen Jiabao in Washington in December 2003. President Bush first met Hu Jintao in his new capacity as P.R.C. President on the margins of the G-8 Summit in Evian in June 2003. President Obama and President Hu have met nine times, most recently during President Hu’s January 2011 visit--the first state visit of a Chinese leader to the United States since 1997. President Obama first met with President Hu during the London G20 Summit in April 2009.

U.S. China policy has been consistent. For eight consecutive administrations, Democratic and Republican, U.S. policy has been to encourage China's opening and integration into the global system. As a result, China has moved from being a relatively isolated and poor country to a key participant in international institutions and a major trading nation. The United States encourages China to play an active role as a responsible stakeholder in the international community, working with the United States and other countries to support and strengthen the international system that has enabled China's success. In the words of Secretary Hillary Clinton, the U.S. wants to “develop a positive, cooperative, and comprehensive relationship with China.” Senior State Department officials engage in regular and intensive discussions with their P.R.C. counterparts through the U.S.-China Strategic and Economic Dialogue.

The United States seeks to build a positive, cooperative, and comprehensive relationship with China by expanding areas of cooperation and addressing areas of disagreement, such as human rights. The United States welcomes a strong, peaceful, and prosperous China playing a greater role in world affairs and seeks to advance practical cooperation with China in order to build a partnership based on mutual benefit and mutual respect. The annual Strategic and Economic Dialogue (S&ED) has served as a unique platform to promote bilateral understanding, expand consensus, discuss differences, improve mutual trust, and increase cooperation.

The strategic track of the S&ED has produced benefits for both countries through a wide range of joint projects and initiatives and expanded avenues for addressing common regional and global challenges such as proliferation concerns in Iran and North Korea, tensions between Sudan and South Sudan, climate change, environmental protection, and energy security. The United States has emphasized the need to enhance bilateral trust through increased high-level exchanges, formal dialogues, and expanded people-to-people ties. The U.S. approach to China is an integral part of reinvigorated U.S. engagement with the Asia-Pacific region.

U.S. assistance programs in China focus on four principal areas: supporting efforts on environmental protection and climate-change mitigation, advancing the rule of law and human rights, assisting Tibetan communities, and addressing the threat of pandemic diseases. U.S. support for transparency and governance crosses these sectors, supporting the development of environmental law, as well as a free, fair, and accessible justice system. Programs in each of these areas are targeted, can be expanded with the addition of local Chinese resources, and directly address U.S. interests such as limiting the transmission of avian influenza, HIV/AIDS, and other diseases that pose threats to global security. Programs in Tibetan areas of China support activities that preserve the distinct Tibetan culture and promote sustainable development and environmental conservation.

The U.S. approach to its economic relations with China has two main elements: the United States seeks to fully integrate China into the global, rules-based economic and trading system and seeks to expand U.S. exporters' and investors' access to the Chinese market. Two-way trade between China and the United States has grown from $33 billion in 1992 to over $536 billion in goods in 2012. China is currently the third largest export market for U.S. goods (after Canada and Mexico), and the United States is China’s largest export market. The stock of U.S. foreign direct investment (FDI) in China was $54.2 billion in 2011, down from $58.5 billion in 2010, and remained primarily in the manufacturing sector. During the economic track of the July 2013 S&ED, the two countries announced measures to strengthen macroeconomic cooperation, promote open trade and investment, enhance global cooperation and international rules, and foster financial stability and reform.

When the Obama administration announced its pivot to Asia in late 2011 and early 2012, there was much consternation over the choice of words. The preferred term soon became ‘rebalance’. But this only partially described the policy mix adopted by Washington. A more accurate phrase would have been a ‘rebalance of burdens in Asia’. Chinese officials and analysts regard the US pivot towards the Asia-Pacific as a strategy to contain China, despite Washington’s claim that it does not focus on a particular country.

As economic success increases China's confidence that China can develop without Western-style democracy, resistance to U.S. promotion of human rights may intensify. At the same time, Chinese leaders see the utility of a limited expansion of civil society, including improvements in the rule of law and a stronger role for approved religions, NGOs, charities and other actors in areas that contribute to social stability and do not challenge Communist Party rule. China is open to U.S. experience in these areas, though Chinese leaders will tolerate only slow and limited change.

China's rise and emergence as a global power is a powerful and popular theme in Chinese contemporary culture, with hundreds of books, major TV series, countless media articles and academic studies devoted to it. Official public statements on foreign policy stress "democratization of international relations" and a more "multi-polar" world, contrasted with U.S. "unilateralism." Many scholars, officials and ordinary citizens believe China's past weakness has forced it to endure "injustices" from the United States, like the Taiwan Relations Act and U.S. arms sales to Taiwan, and Chinese have no trouble linking these injustices to a centuries-long string of humiliations China perceives itself as having suffered at the hands of foreign powers.

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Page last modified: 14-02-2014 18:12:02 ZULU