With the signing of the Shanghai Communique;
in 1972, U.S.-China relations were suddenly and drastically altered. The U.S.-China
Policy Foundation hosted a discussion and luncheon at the National Press Club
on February 27, 2002, to commemorate the 30th anniversary of this historic
occasion. Speakers addressed the events surrounding the signing of the communiqué,
the effects it had on the Sino-American relationship and the world, and its
implications for today. Some speakers also chose to discuss the general state
of U.S.-China relations.
In his remarks, Dr. Richard Solomon maintained
that the Shanghai Communiqué served to "transform the strategic
landscape" of the Cold War. He explained that in the communique;,
the United States outlined its one-China policy, and China expressed its desire
to maintain friendly relations with the United States. Although there was
dissention with regard to Taiwan in the document, the communiqué left
the island more secure, he argued.
Solomon also commented that the Shanghai
Communiqué and the other two U.S.-China joint communiqués "provide
a principled framework for a normal and troubled U.S.-PRC relationship."
He went on to suggest that although the Soviet threat is now gone, the events
of September 11 might serve to give the United States and China new common
Pulitzer Prize winning reporter Stanley Karnow
focused his talk on President Nixon's historic visit to China in 1971. As
a Washington Post reporter who accompanied President Nixon on his trip, Karnow
reminisced about this extraordinary experience. Karnow pointed out the significance
of Nixon's visit in terms of the affect it had on the war in Vietnam. He reminded
those in attendance of the long history of conflict between China and Vietnam
and noted that Zhou Enlai had pressured the Vietminh, at the Geneva Conference
in 1954, to agree to the division of Vietnam. Therefore, he declared, improved
Sino-American relations, as indicated by Nixon's visit, certainly had a psychological
affect on the North Vietnamese and was an important factor in bringing the
Vietnam War to a conclusion.
In his speech, Robert Suettinger, the former
National Security Council senior staff for Asian affairs, addressed the topic
of leadership transition in China. The coming fourth generation of leadership
in China has certain distinguishing characteristics, he noted. As a group,
it is well educated, well advised, and pragmatic, but has little military
or foreign affairs experience. Suettinger remained optimistic about the ability
of the new leaders to govern, but cautioned that China has many pressing issues
which leave room for uncertainty.
Lastly, Suettinger noted that in the past, U.S.-China relations have developed
in a positive direction regardless of leadership transitions, concluding that,
although changes in the top leadership do create waves in the bilateral relationship,
these leaders all eventually come to recognize the importance of good relations
with the U.S.
Ambassador Chas W. Freeman, Jr., asserted
that the U.S. does not have a China policy. The events of September 11, he
said, swept aside the troubling issues of the U.S.-China relationship, allowing
the two countries to work together to fight terrorism. But, he stressed, those
issues still need to be worked out. As for the fundamentals of the U.S.-China
relationship, Freeman said, "it is truly remarkable what the last thirty
years have brought in terms of better understanding, greater interaction,
and a wider degree of mutual dependence."
Freeman concluded his talk by noting that
America's opening to China sparked significant changes in China and in China's
international position: "Without trying to change China, we changed it
fundamentally, for the better," Freeman asserted.
Dr. Robert Kapp, president of the U.S.-China
Business Council, addressed enduring themes in U.S.-China relations. Kapp
noted that the Shanghai Communiqué was signed at a time when all people
on both sides of the Taiwan straight were in favor of reunification, but that
the present situation might warrant a different interpretation. Kapp also
identified the World Trade Organization (WTO) as a testing point for the future
of U.S.-China relations. China's joining the WTO and agreeing to a set of
behaviors and precepts should have a profoundly positive affect on the U.S.-China
relationship, he declared.
After the morning discussion, participants
attended a luncheon in which Assistant Secretary of State for East Asia and
the Pacific James Kelly gave the keynote address. He opened by declaring that
China and the United States have a "candid, respectful, [and] mature
relationship." Since President Nixon's opening to China, China has transformed
itself from a state in the midst of the violent Cultural Revolution to one
of the United States' largest trading partners, Kelly remarked. Membership
in the WTO, Kelly asserted, will aid China's economic reforms and help it
implement the rule of law.
Kelly noted the divisions between the United
States and China on the issues of human rights, weapons proliferation, Taiwan,
and agriculture. But he praised China for its support of the war on terrorism
and remarked that China, too, is a victim of terrorism. He lauded China for
advising Pakistan to support the United States against international terrorism,
for participating in a counter-terrorism financial working group, and for
being part of a law enforcement working group that was to start in March.
The Assistant Secretary of State also reported
that military dialogue with China will soon resume, but that the United States
still has concerns because previously such dialogue contained asymmetries
at senior levels. Finally, Kelly also took this opportunity to emphasize that
U.S. policy towards the Taiwan Strait issue will be guided by the three joint
U.S.-China communiqués and the Taiwan Relations Act of 1979; he said
the United States sees no reason to negotiate a fourth communiqué at