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This article in American Diplomacy by Avery Goldman is not going to raise any eyebrows among regular China watchers ( I also suggest you skip over the tedious introduction) but it does summarize the current strategic situation fairly well. It is also noteworthy in that AD reflects general thinking at State, they seem to be buying in to Dr. Barnett’s call in Blueprint for Action for America to ” lock in tomorrow’s China at today’s prices”. An excerpt from the Avery piece:

” The key to sensible policy in dealing with China is to recognize that we are in the midst of what the Chinese sometimes refer to as a “period of strategic opportunity.” For at least the next couple of decades, the areas of conflict between the U.S. and China (especially difficult economic problems and even the potentially dangerous disagreement about Taiwan) are in fact manageable, not intractable, problems. And both China and the U.S. have important common interests (fighting terrorism, dealing with proliferation, coping with environmental degradation, and addressing public health crises in a globalized setting) that provide strong incen-tives for both Beijing and Washington to work hard to manage and contain bilateral conflicts. Because conflicting interests do not yet swamp common interests in U.S.-China relations, there is time, most likely a couple of decades, to learn whether a longer-term modus vivendi is possible. Each side will be drawing con-clusions along the way. Time will provide the Chinese with the opportunity to learn whether the U.S. is willing to accept a larger international role for a more powerful China. Time will also provide the U.S. with the opportunity to learn whether China is in fact emerging as a responsible great power with which the U.S. can coexist without sacrificing American vital interests. A sensible policy is not only one under which the U.S. seizes this “period of strategic opportunity” to monitor what China does, but also one which encourages China’s responsible behavior whenever possible.”

8 Responses to “”

  1. Dan tdaxp Says:

    Very useful post. Thank you.

    there is time, most likely a couple of decades, to learn whether a longer-term modus vivendi is possible

    The key word is “learn”

    There are three ways to teach anybody:

    1. Behavioralism (reward virtue, punish vice)
    2. Cognition (teach stories and get the learner to think in patterns)
    3. Social Cognition (learning through imitation — basically vicarious behavioralism).

    During this “period of strategic opportunity” — this “teachable decades” — we should use all three avenues to educate China to raise a “well-developed” nation

    Dan tdaxp

  2. Curtis Gale Weeks Says:

    Oh, I think that education of the American public is also necessary.

    We tend to think that politicians and bureaucrats make all the decisions which will lead to foreign cooperation or conflict, but cultural paths as well as economic paths begin with the people. Today’s local paper featured a story on how China’s economy is increasingly tied to the local economy, and I believe that one or a few “sister city” paradigms are in operation for cities here in the Ozarks with corresponding Chinese cities. If you travel to Springfield, MO, you’ll find many, many Chinese restaurants: there is a strong belief that certain “Chinese” dishes originated here, including cashew chicken, etc.

    On the other hand, bigotries are still given voice. (I will not repeat them here.) Sinophobia could spread, or be spread, by bureaucrats; but the influence of Sinophobic bureaucrats could be limited by stronger cultural and economic ties throughout our society.

    The problem is perhaps on the other side, because American culture is actually derided publicly moreso in China than Chinese culture is derided here.

  3. vonny Says:

    Another aspect of all this I am interested in getting feedback on is the development of the SCO in 2001 and the rise of it towards a possible larger miltary alliance with China, Russia, India, Pakistan, Iran, and others looking to join in. Mark (and others), if you get a chance check out my entry from Thursday at vonscience.blogspot.com. I’d be really interested in your thoughts.


  4. Curtis Gale Weeks Says:


    I wrote about it also, and linked an alternate P.o.V.: SCO.

    China’s aware that U.S. retail sales and industrial investment in China help China’s economy; I wonder, though, how far China will diversify, and whether many decades from now SCO cooperation could fulfill China’s economic needs. (Oil from Russia and Iran is a given; but sales to those nations are going to be retarded until they themselves improve their own economy. Same with India.)

  5. mark Says:

    Hi Dan, Curtis & Doc Von

    Hmmmm….SCO…the CIS on steroids ? ;o)

    Ok – a less flippant response.

    we have some diverse interests here in Central Asia going on in regards to the SCO.

    1. The ruling tyrants in the Stans want to stay in power which means not being overhrown in a popular uprising, not being overhrown by Islamist guerillas and not becoming a satellite of Russia.

    2. China seeks to secure its future energy supply on its own terms by preventing CA oil & gas from being controlled by either American or Russian energy companies. They would also like to have friendly and not Islamist or liberal democratic regimes on the Xinjiang border.

    3. Russia would like to have American bases out of he region and reduce the Stans to the status of near abroad satellites. Ideally, they want the Chinese out of there as well but beggars can’t be choosers and the Stans are wary of the Russians and are more willing to be involved with SCO with Chinese participation

    The rulers of the Stans don’t like the new American-EU emphasis on democracy and human rights but they need outside support. They fear Russia and know China will not send armies to save them if they are in trouble. SCO lets them try to pull off a balancing act – for a time. These rulers are deeply unpopular, corrupt and a little nuts but not so nuts as to throw in their lot entirely with Putin, unless they have no other choices.

  6. Anonymous Says:

    I don’t buy the concept of “lock(ing) in tomorrow’s China at today’s prices.” You can’t freeze any strategic relationship in time. Ultimately it will reflect the realities of economic, military and cultural strength on each side.
    I don’t see the need for any strategic partnership. We have very little in common with them. They seek to limit and even counter American interests whenever they can and steal our technology, software, DVD’s, etc.
    As I’ve said here before, China has not decided that it sees a future close relationship with the United States. This is obvious since they have not used their huge surplus of dollars to buy hard assets in the U.S. such as real estate or companies. Until such time, we should be very wary of China’s intentions.


  7. Sun Bin Says:


    they did, but was blocked. remember Unocal? 🙂
    They have to very stupid to buy into the property bubble like the Japanese did on Rockefeller.

    Anyway, there will be more deals, like Lenovo/IBM, perhaps in a few more years. China is still a poor country. It is the businesses that should determine what to buy, not the central bank, so the deposit on the central bank is just going to yield low return for a while.

    Re: SCO

    i think the first priority of SCO was to cope with the separatist and islamist extremist in Xinjiang, with the Stans shares.
    Oil is only a bonus, but it is business.

  8. Anonymous Says:


    With regards to the Unocal story, that is more evidence on my side. China only wanted to own the oil reserves of Unocal in Asia. They said that they would have sold off the U.S. assets of Unocal if the deal had gone through. You say that they would be foolish to do a “Rockefeller” type deal. Yes, when you phrase it that way, of course. I didn’t say that they had to buy large quantities of U.S. real estate right now. Many U.S. companies are priced reasonably and, for example, the P/E on the SP-500 is at 14 times next years earnings.
    For me, the purchase of hard assets in the U.S. by the Chinese will be the best “tell” as to Chinese long term intentions. Only then will we know that they see their future tied to ours.


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