The Two Futures of U.S. China Policy

Mitchell, Lincoln A.

While in Asia, President Obama focused quite a bit on the U.S. relationship with China. This was wise and reflects the increasingly obvious reality that the U.S.-China relationship is, and almost certainly will remain for many years, our country’s most important bilateral relationship. Moreover, Obama’s Tokyo speech reflected the need for cooperation between the U.S. and China. “it is important to pursue pragmatic cooperation with China on issues of mutual concern – because no one nation can meet the challenges of the 21st century alone…That is why we welcome China’s efforts to play a greater role on the world stage – a role in which their growing economy is joined by growing responsibility.” The Chinese and U.S. economies are deeply linked in a relationship that is the trade equivalent of being too big to fail. Similarly, nascent rivalries for influence and power around the world cannot be allowed to grow out of control. All of this occurs in the obvious, if downplayed by the administration, context of China as a country with very little political freedom and a record of widespread human rights abuses.

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Harriman Institute
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September 29, 2011