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197 Toward a Stable and Constructive China Policy Robert S. Ross Secretary of State Robert Zoellick’s presentation of the Bush administration’s agenda for U.S.-China relations is remarkable both for what it omits as well for what it includes . One of the foreign policy issues that received the least attention by Zoellick is Taiwan. Having previously constituted the most dangerous and intractable dilemma in U.S.-China relations, the Taiwan issue looks increasingly amenable to a peaceful resolution , a goal that serves both U.S. and Chinese interests. Zoellick made clear that the Bush administration is pleased with the current trend in cross-Strait cooperation and the prospect of Taiwan’s continued engagement with the mainland. Equally important, Zoellick’s discussion of the impasse on the Korean peninsula was limited to stressing the U.S. hope that Beijing will continue to maintain a constructive role in the Six-Party talks; Washington now appears content to work through Beijing to manage tensions on the Korean peninsula. The fact that the Taiwan and Korea flashpoints—once sources of considerable tension and heightened preparation for war—now play such a diminished role in U.S.-China relations is cause for considerable satisfaction. Zoellick’s presentation is also noteworthy for the message it sends to the domestic audience. Zoellick affirmed the White House’s unequivocal endorsement of a policy that promotes U.S.-China cooperation and encourages Chinese participation in framRobert S. Ross is Professor of Political Science at Boston College. His research focuses on Chinese foreign and defense policy, with an emphasis on China’s use of force, deterrence strategies, security policies in East Asia, and relations with the United States. He can be reached at . nbr analysis 198 ing the global order. By aligning with the Clinton administration in developing a post– Cold War China policy characterized by engagement rather than confrontation, the Bush administration has laid the basis for a bipartisan consensus on U.S. policy toward China. If achieved, such a bipartisan consensus would marginalize the strident calls from the wings of both political parties for a confrontational approach to security, economic , and political conflicts of interests with China. By challenging the domestic pressures for confrontation, the Bush administration is serving the long-term U.S. interests of maintaining a stable and constructive relationship with China. Now that the prospect of conflict over Korea or Taiwan is declining and the administration is increasingly focused on engagement, Zoellick’s timely presentation has outlined the future agenda of Washington’s China policy. This agenda includes issues central to U.S. security and economic development: enhancement of counterterrorism cooperation, management of potential conflict associated with China’s growing demand for energy resources, promotion of international economic stability in the face of China’s surging economy, and the rise of Chinese defense capabilities. The Bush administration’s approach to these issues is to encourage China to become a “responsible stakeholder” (a term used in Zoellick’s speech) in the international political order, and to pursue its interests within the established world order rather than as a disruptive revisionist state. But this approach suggests a dated view of China’s role in international politics: on many fronts, China has already become just as much a stakeholder in the international order as has the United States. Zoellick suggested that China, as a responsible member of the international community , should pursue resources such as Sudanese oil in tandem with sincere efforts to help resolve that country’s humanitarian crises. China is, however —in contrast to the United States—currently participating in United Nations’ peacekeeping activities in the Sudan, a fact that only underscores China’s emergence as one of the more active contributors to worldwide UN peacekeeping operations. Similarly, ever since China’s admission to the World Trade Organization (WTO) in 2000, Beijing has become one of the more constructive forces in the promotion of free trade. Beijing has frequently aligned with Washington in opposition to other WTO members usually considered to be “responsible stakeholders” (e.g., Japan and the European Union) as well as to China’s reputed revisionist allies “… failure to recognize that China possesses legitimateinterestsofitsown…undermines incentives for Beijing to seek negotiated solutions to bilateral conflicts.” 199 “whither u.s.-china relations?” roundtable in the developing world. And rather than pursue a unilateralist foreign policy, China actively participates in global and regional multilateral institutions and in multilateral confidence-building measures. All of the above observations suggest that the Bush administration’s...


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