Thursday, May 20, 2010

US Engagement Policy on China

If East Asian countries recognize the existence of the United States in East Asia; or to use the expression of realism, if East Asian countries do not have the ability to exclude the United States from the East Asian region, East Asian countries would have to consider the issue of how they can 'digest' the United States. It is similar to the US engagement policy on China. Its main purpose is to 'digest' the emergence of China.

Diplomatic Strategy
During the Clinton presidency, the US Government introduced this concept known as the 'engagement' diplomatic strategy on China. During that period, China's power was not as strong as it is today. China was still in what the West perceived as 'emerging' stage then. This 'engagement' diplomatic strategy on China has played a significant role in the US diplomatic dealing with China then. Before the United States came out with this 'engagement' strategy, the United States also has the choice to use strategies such as 'containment' and 'repressive' policy on China.
Nevertheless, even the United States came out with its 'engagement policy' on China, the choice of the US strategies, including the use of 'containment' and 'repressive' policy on China have never disappeared. In any case, we can say that in whatever strategies the United States uses on China, it will still unfold circling around the 'engagement' theme. Yet, in the actual operation process, many US policies toward China have reflected the characteristic of 'repressive engagement' nature.

Needs of Economic Globalization
The US engagement policy on China can be rated as very successful. It meets the needs of economic globalization and regionalization. It is also in line with China's own policy choices. Since China began to open up and carried gradual economic reform, China has chosen to accept the existing world system and adapt to the concept of peaceful emergence. The US engagement policy on China and China's open-door policy meet each other's need. This has allowed China to quickly enter the international community and become one of the important members.

From a more macro perspective, the inter-reaction of the US and China policies has effectively prevented the type of Cold War that happened between the United States and the former Soviet Union. During the Cold War period the reaction between the United States and the former Soviet Union has turned the United States and the former Soviet Union into two confrontational international groupings. But today, the relationship between China and the United States has in fact reflected the reality that the two countries are indeed a de facto G2 group.

Easy To Confront, Difficult To Cooperate
However, recent development in China-US relations has the tendency to reflect the reality that China can no longer continue to be 'engaged,' but instead it has taken the initiative to 'engage' the United States. While on one hand, the United States is still unprepared to take the initiative to, based on the interest of China, make suitable adjustment especially in making appropriate policy adjustment to China's core interest, China's solid strength has, on the other hand, already developed into the stage of demanding the United States to make such adjustment to China's core interest. For a long period of time in the future, the interaction between China and the United States, as well as the development direction in China-US bilateral relationship is critical to the international community.

Although the coexistence between the China and the United States is still under one framework, which is what many referred to as the G2 group, but the structure of this G2 framework is not solid. This is because the essence of international politics is such that it is easy for two countries to confront but it is difficult for two countries to cooperate. Moreover, when two countries have conflicting national interest areas, it will even be more difficult for these two countries to seek mutual cooperation. However, in the event of any form of confrontation between China and the United States, whether it is 'cold war' or 'hot war,' such development will not do any good to the two countries as well as to the international community.

Factors Leading to China-US Conflicts
The initiative of China to engage the United States is to avoid confrontation. Factors leading to China-US conflicts include objective interest factor as well as psychological factor. China's engagement with the United States is a desire to establish mutual trust between the two countries. China hopes to redefine both nations' interest on the basis of mutual trust.
However, whether it is in China or in the United States, for many years, the academia and political circles have all been talking about the competitive strength between the United States and China, on who among the two is on lead. They talk about the theory that 'China wants to overtake the United States in power, but the United States will not want to be overtaken by China.' They also make it sounds like 'if China does not overtake the United States in power, then China will be bullied by the United States.' These are but the typical traditional international relations thinking. In theory when two countries with compatible strength cannot get along with each other, they might seek it out with war. But there are many cases for confronting nations to sort out their difference with peaceful cooperation measure.

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