First of all, our relations with China have been, and will remain for the
foreseeable future to be mixed, to be a complex combination of cooperation and
contention. So the first thing is, don't ever expect a kind of nirvana of
peaceful, cooperative productive U.S.-China relations. I can't see that.
We're always going to have a complex mix of compatible interests and
conflictional interests. And really, if you think about it, how could it be
different? We have a far different history, far different political system. The
Chinese have an aggrieved experience with the West and the United States --
lots of resentment. And China is still a very poor country.
It certainly depends on how the Chinese respond.... If they're seen to be
basically positive, this represents a chance to improve U.S.-China relations
that hasn't existed since the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991, and indeed
since 1989, with the Tianamen massacre.
Since 1991 and 1989, China and the United States have not really been able to
cooperate very significantly in the security area. If we are cooperating in the
security area, this tends to be an area of cooperation that is so important to
the United States that we tend to not clutter the agenda of bilateral relations
with lots of other secondary issues; issues that are very important in this
country, but nonetheless are not of the same magnitude and urgency of the
security concerns. If the Chinese play their cards right and are cooperative,
we could see better relations.
It's potentially very important. First of all, China, unknown to many
Americans, is our fourth-largest trade partner. There are certainly probably
300,000, 400,000, 500,000 American jobs that are directly dependent to exports
to China, and there are some of our most competitive high tech sector.
Obviously, given the state of our own economy, we don't need more unemployment.
But China's economic importance -- particularly to the United States, but the
global economy -- hasn't been recognized in another way, and that is
inter-dependence. Let me just give you a fact that I think is just
demonstrative of a larger reality. Eighty-seven percent of the motherboards of
computers in the world are made in Taiwan. And of that 87 percent of the brains
of a computer, the motherboards made in Taiwan, 50 percent are now made in the
PRC, and that industry is even moving more rapidly towards the PRC. So in
certain key areas, China's component manufacturing is absolutely key to a
strategic global industry.
So whether you look at it narrowly, or in terms of jobs, China is essential.
Also, China is the most rapidly growing major economy in the world today. And
heaven knows, with Japan lagging and Europe's economy stagnating and the
Americans hovering near a recession, the world needs all the center of growth
that it can get. So I think we are going to recognize that we have a very great
interest in China's prosperity.
I think the president now has both strategic military reasons to try to have a
decent, productive relationship with China. He has economic reasons and,
frankly, we have great cultural reasons. Some of the most innovative
intelligent students in American universities today come from abroad, and many
of those come from China. So we have cultural reasons, economic reasons and
You can't predict how China is going to behave in the future. But I think
what we can say for now, and for the next ten years is, all Chinese I'm
familiar with -- except a few modest interest groups -- are devoted to the
proposition that the Chinese first need to economically modernize. The
challenge to America is to make it clear to the Chinese people that the world
is supportive of them becoming more prosperous and having a more dignified
place in the world; that the United States does not stand in the way of that;
and create an environment that's going to create the incentives where the
Chinese want to play by the rules, where they feel like they're a member of the
The odds are very great that, if China is able to continue to move in the
direction it's going and that we are basically receptive to the aspirations of
the Chinese people... I think we'll always have difficulty in dealing with
China. But it need not be the kind of experience we faced with the rise of
Japan or Germany.
The way I would put it, there's a deep ambivalence about Americans. Chinese
leaders send their sons and daughters in great numbers here to study. Many of
their sons and daughters are living long term in the United States, opening
businesses. I think there's great respect for American technological and
financial wizardry, great admiration. The Chinese characters for the United
States are the "Beautiful Country." The traditional name for San Francisco is
"Old Gold Mountain." There's this image of the United States as a beautiful,
powerful, clever nation and I think that's the dominant sentiment -- for the
United States, in a sense, to be a role model for China.
But when the Chinese define you as a teacher or a role model, they expect the
teacher to be deferential and considerate of the student. And so, often,
Chinese people see the United States acting in what they believe is an
arrogant, thoughtless way that basically is designed to keep China down. So
there's this admiration that competes with this sense of victimhood, this sense
of "You don't respect us," sort of what we call the Rodney
Dangerfield-"I-don't-get-no-respect" kind of view of the United States. So I
think it's deeply ambivalent. But, on balance, the prevailing sentiment is very
positive.t is critical commercially. It is the only strong economy in Asia today, in
fact, its one of the only growing economies in the world today. ...
Also...there is a worry that if China used its military power or its growing
political influence to undermine U.S. national interests, we could have a very
significant problem in Asia over the horizon.
China and the United States are engaged in a major gamble with each other. The
United States is gambling that, with increased engagement and especially with
increased trade, it'll become a more liberal society and more open society.
China, on the other hand, is betting that they can open up to the extent
necessary to promote their economic prosperity. They're smart enough to know
that a certain amount of capitalism is a good thing and they've got to go in
that direction to feed 1.3 billion people. But that they can open up to that
extent, but not to the extent they lose control -- and control is the name of
It's not communism in the sense of the Soviet Union, where they're trying to
convince the world, as it were, of a doctrine. It's more a matter of they're
keeping control, and they will do what is necessary to keep the communist
regime there in control. So they're betting that they can keep that control.
It's going to be some years, probably, before we see who's right. In the
meantime, the name of the game in terms of diplomacy and national security is
to try to keep incidents from happening until we reach that point that throw us
off-kilter and get us into trouble with one another and make the world more
dangerous. ... I'm willing to take that gamble. I think we've got a fair chance
of winning that gamble.
But it's not at all clear that that's the way that it's going to turn out ...It
very well could be, if they can open up somewhat, do better than they've done
in the past but still arrest American citizens at will, proliferate weapons of
mass destruction and be an imminent threat to our friend across the Taiwan
We think that China-American relationship should move forward in the
interests of both sides. But China is a country which suffered a lot in the
past. China country, like the United States, jealously guards its own
sovereignty and territory, integrity and dignity. And if people understand
these principles that they apply not only to the United States, but to China
and to other countries, then they can understand the emotions of the Chinese
people on this issue.I think we should recognize that China and the United States both want to
improve and develop their relationship, but there are some sensitive elements
in the Sino-U.S. relationship, which will sometimes lead to certain
disturbances. Over recent years, you know that both parties in the U.S., the
Republicans and the Democrats, have both had the same policy towards developing
and improving Sino-U.S. relations.
On the other hand, frankly speaking, there are also differences of opinion
between the two countries. The important question is how to handle these
differences. No one should take a tough attitude just because these differences
create problems. That will not contribute to the solution of the problems.
Basically, I think what we should focus on are the major common interests
between the two countries, which are important and wide-ranging, for instance,
to safeguard peace and stability in the Asian Pacific region and to improve
world economic development and prosperity. Also, we both want a better
environment and less pollution. We both want to fight against transnational
crimes, etc. In those areas, we have important common interests, and we should
cooperate further in those fields. ...
Relations in trade and other areas are improving. We have also had much more
consultation on international issues.